E Company, 506th Infantry Regiment (United States)

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E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne
506InfRegtCOA.svg
Easy506pir.jpg
Easy Company
Active
  • 1942–1945
  • 1954–present
Country United States of America
Branch United States Army
TypeInfantry company
RoleAirborne
Size140 soldiers listed, but "162 soldiers and officers" is said in part 7 of Band of Brothers because of replacements
Nickname"Easy Company"
Motto"Currahee" (We Stand Alone)
MarchBlood on the Risers
EngagementsWorld War II:
* Battle of Normandy
* Battle of Carentan
* Operation Market Garden
* Battle of the Bulge
Commanders
Colonel of
the Regiment
US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel Robert Sink
Notable
commanders
US-O3 insignia.svg Capt Herbert Sobel
US-O3 insignia.svg Capt Richard Winters
US-O3 insignia.svg Capt Ronald Speirs
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lt. Norman Dike
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lt. Frederick Heyliger
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lt. Thomas Meehan 
 
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"Easy Company" redirects here. For the DC Comics fictional unit, see Easy Company (comics).
E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne
506InfRegtCOA.svg
Easy506pir.jpg
Easy Company
Active
  • 1942–1945
  • 1954–present
Country United States of America
Branch United States Army
TypeInfantry company
RoleAirborne
Size140 soldiers listed, but "162 soldiers and officers" is said in part 7 of Band of Brothers because of replacements
Nickname"Easy Company"
Motto"Currahee" (We Stand Alone)
MarchBlood on the Risers
EngagementsWorld War II:
* Battle of Normandy
* Battle of Carentan
* Operation Market Garden
* Battle of the Bulge
Commanders
Colonel of
the Regiment
US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel Robert Sink
Notable
commanders
US-O3 insignia.svg Capt Herbert Sobel
US-O3 insignia.svg Capt Richard Winters
US-O3 insignia.svg Capt Ronald Speirs
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lt. Norman Dike
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lt. Frederick Heyliger
US-O2 insignia.svg First Lt. Thomas Meehan 

Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, the "Screaming Eagles", is one of the best-known companies in the United States Army. Their experiences in World War II are the subject of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers based on the book of the same name by historian Stephen Ambrose. In 2009, twenty of the last few remaining survivors from Easy Company recounted their stories in the oral-history book project We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories From the Band of Brothers.

History[edit]

The 506th PIR was an experimental airborne regiment created in 1942 at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. Easy Company missions were to involve being parachuted from C-47 transport airplanes over hostile territory.

Major Richard Winters described the original organization of Easy company as follows:

"[Easy] company included three rifle platoons and a headquarters section. Each platoon contained three twelve-man rifle squads and a six-man mortar team squad. Easy also had one machine gun attached to each of its rifle squads, and a 60mm mortar in each mortar team."[1]

The training was not easy. Besides attending the standard airborne school, the unit had to perform battle drills and excruciating amounts of physical training. One of the more famous exercises was the regular running of Currahee, a large, steep hill. The phrase "3 miles up, 3 miles down" was derived from this run. Easy Company, while training at Toccoa, was under the command of Herbert Sobel, who was known for his extreme strictness.

Also as part of their physical training, the members of Easy Company performed formation runs in three-four column running groups. The purpose of this training was to push the soldiers to their limits, and to teach them how to work together as a team.

Missions[edit]

Operation Overlord (D-Day)[edit]

For Operation Overlord, Easy Company's mission was to capture the entrances to and clear any obstacles around "Causeway 2", a pre-selected route off Utah Beach for the troops' landing from the sea a few hours later. The company departed from Upottery airbase in Devon, England, and dropped over the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy, France in the early hours of the morning of 6 June 1944. After assembling on the ground, the men of Easy Company disabled a battery of four German heavy guns on D-Day that threatened forces coming along Causeway 2.

Eindhoven, the Netherlands[edit]

Easy Company was assigned to support the British forces around Eindhoven, by defending the roads and bridges, so that the British armored divisions could advance into Arnhem and force a crossing over the major bridge across the Rhine River in September 1944. The story of the ill-fated Operation Market Garden is told in the book A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan.

Easy Company landed on its designated drop zone in the Sonsche Forest, north west of Son and marched down the road into Son behind the 2nd Battalion's other two companies. When the 2nd Battalion reached the Son Bridge they were met by enemy harassing fire whilst the bridge was destroyed by the Germans. After the Regiment's engineers constructed a makeshift crossing, Easy and the rest of the 506th moved out for Eindhoven. These events were omitted from Band of Brothers, with Easy having been portrayed as landing in the Netherlands and then marching into Eindhoven to join up with the British Army advancing from the south.

On 19 September, Easy departed for Helmond accompanied by six Cromwell tanks of the British 11th Armoured Division.[2] Their advance was halted by the German 107th Panzer Brigade outside Nuenen and they were forced to retreat to Tongelre.[2] During the days following the link up, Easy successfully defended the towns of Veghel and Uden until XXX Corps infantry took up the task of defending the area. As Market Garden progressed, Easy and the rest of the 101st joined the 82nd Airborne on "the island" north of Nijmegen.

At the conclusion of Market Garden, the company relieved the British 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division in Zetten.[3] On 5 October 1944, 1st platoon fought in the battle of "the island" that lay between the Lower Rhine and the Waal river. Along with a platoon from Fox Company and support from the Royal Artillery, they routed two Waffen-SS companies on 5 October 1944.[4] Colonel Sink issued a general order citing 1st platoon of Easy for gallantry in action, describing their attack a "daring act and skillful maneuver against a numerically superior force".[5]

Easy Company was involved in the rescue of over 100 British troops trapped outside Arnhem. Operation Pegasus was a military operation carried out on the Lower Rhine near the village of Renkum, close to Arnhem in the Netherlands. Overnight on the 22–23 October 1944, the Allies evacuated a large group of men trapped in German occupied territory who had been in hiding since the Battle of Arnhem. On the south bank of a Dutch river, Canadian engineers and a patrol of E Company observed the signal and immediately launched their boats, but the British were some 500-800m upriver of the crossing point. Upon reaching the north bank E Company established a small perimeter while men headed east to locate the evaders.[6][7] The men quickly moved downstream and in the next 90 minutes all of them were evacuated,[7] with the exception of a Russian who was captured by the Germans.[8] The Germans opened fire sporadically and some mortar rounds fell near the crossing, but the fire was inaccurate.[9] Once on the other side the escapees were led to a farmhouse for refreshments, before being driven to Nijmegen where Dobie had arranged a party and champagne.[10] The men were later flown back to the UK, rejoining the men who had escaped in Operation Berlin.

Battle of the Bulge[edit]

Names of E Company fallen on the monument in Foy, Belgium

During December 1944 and January 1945, Easy Company and the rest of the 101st Airborne Division fought in Belgium in the Battle of the Bulge. The 101st was in France in December when the Germans launched their offensive in the Ardennes. They were told to hold the vital cross-roads at Bastogne and were soon encircled by the Germans. Easy Company fought in cold weather under German artillery fire without winter clothing and with limited rations and ammunition. The Allies defeated the German offensive. Afterward, Easy Company and the rest of the 506th PIR moved into Germany. The 101st Airborne Division was awarded a unit citation for holding the line at Bastogne.[11]

Occupation duties[edit]

Toward the end of the war, Easy Company was assigned to occupation duty in Germany, specifically to Berchtesgaden, which was home to Adolf Hitler’s famous Eagle's Nest. Following Berchtesgaden, Easy Company moved into Austria for further occupation duty. The company mostly attended to various patrols, awaiting the end of the war.

Post-war[edit]

Easy Company and the rest of the 506th PIR was disbanded in November 1945 and reactivated in 1954 as a training unit.

Personnel[edit]

140 men formed the original Easy Company in Camp Toccoa, Georgia. 366 men are listed as belonging to Easy Company by war's end, due to transfers and replacement. 49 men of Easy Company were killed in action.[12]

Higher authorities[edit]

Commanding officers[edit]

Richard Winters in 2004.
  1. Captain Herbert M. Sobel (26 January 1912 – 30 September 1987)
  2. First Lieutenant Thomas Meehan III (8 July 1921 – 6 June 1944)
  3. Major Richard D. Winters (21 January 1918 – 2 January 2011)
  4. Unnamed officer [13]
  5. First Lieutenant Frederick Theodore Heyliger (23 June 1916 – 3 November 2001[14])
  6. First Lieutenant Norman Staunton Dike, Jr. (19 May 1918 – 23 June 1989)
  7. Captain Ronald C. Speirs (20 April 1920 – 11 April 2007)

Other officers[edit]

Enlisted men[edit]

Don Malarkey with US soldiers in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait (September 2008).
Forrest Guth, Clancy Lyall and Amos Taylor in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait (September 2008).
In order of rank, then alphabetically by last name.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beyond Band of Brothers, pages 16–17. ISBN 978-0-425-21375-9
  2. ^ a b Ambrose, Stephen. page 127.
  3. ^ Ambrose, Stephen. page 143.
  4. ^ Ambrose, Stephen. page 149.
  5. ^ Ambrose, Stephen. page 153.
  6. ^ Ambrose, p159
  7. ^ a b Waddy, p187
  8. ^ Van der Zee, p 135
  9. ^ Digby Tatham-Warter
  10. ^ Waddy, p188
  11. ^ "Easy Company, 1942-1945" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhd4J2kbxG8
  12. ^ perspective, We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from Band of Brothers
  13. ^ Ambrose, Stephen (1992). Band of Brothers. 
  14. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Heyliger&GSfn=Fred&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=19080521&df=all&

External links[edit]