The “Greatest Generation” included over 16 million Americans who served during WWII in uniform. Today, the VA estimates that barely 300,000 of these Vets remain, a number that is growing smaller literally every day.
Case in point, over the weekend we lost esteemed Kansas lawmaker, and the man who charged at the windmill that was an incumbent Bill Clinton in 1996 at a time when the economy was peaking, Robert “Bob” Dole.
Dole, born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, interrupted his college studies at the University of Kansas to enlist in the Army, serving with the famed 10th Mountain Division in Italy where he was gravely wounded and initially left for dead on the battlefield. In postwar rehabilitation, he had to learn to write with his left hand after his right was left with limited mobility. He was medically discharged as a captain in 1947 and returned to his studies, eventually becoming a lawyer.
He was the last WWII Veteran to be nominated by any party for President. With that, check out his 2008 interview with the National WWII Museum about his service.
The last surviving officer of the “Band of Brothers,” Edward D. Shames, died at age 99 on Friday. Participating in some of the most critical WWII battles, Shames parachuted into Normandy during the Overlord as Operations Sergeant with I Company, 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 101st Airborne. Earning a battlefield commission for his actions on D-Day, he transferred shortly thereafter to Easy Company as leader of 3rd platoon and fought in Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge.
Notably, Shames, who was Jewish, was credited as being one of the first in Easy Company to enter Dachau to liberate the death camp in 1945.
As noted in his obit, “When Germany surrendered, Ed and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, a label indicating they were ‘for the Fuhrer’s use only.’ Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.”
Postwar, he remained in the military and retired as a full colonel in the reserves in 1973, and worked for “No Such Agency” at Fort Meade until 1982.
Shames is survived by his sons Douglas and Steven, four grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
A graveside service will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at 11 a.m. with Cantor David Proser officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in his honor (memory) may be sent to Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758516, Topeka, Kansas 66675-8516 and the American Veterans Center, 1100 N. Glebe Rd., Suite 910, Arlington, VA 22201. Online condolences may be offered here.