The oldest member of the “Band of Brothers” who fought in some of the Second World War’s fiercest European battles has died at 94.
Ed Mauser had shunned the limelight and kept his service with the US Army unit a secret, even from some of his family.
He was the oldest living member of Easy Company, better known now as the Band of Brothers.
But his role came to light only after his brother-in-law got him a copy of the HBO mini-series Band Of Brothers, said Terry Zahn, who met Mr Mauser during a 2009 Honour Flight trip to Washington DC to see the wartime memorial.
Mr Mauser, who died in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, told his family that some of the things in the mini-series, like the locations of buildings, were not quite what he remembered from being there in person. But before that, “he never talked about it for years and years and years”, said Mr Zahn, president of the Midwest chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association.
Born in 1916 in LaSalle, Illinois, Mr Mauser was drafted in 1942 and volunteered for the 101st Airborne Division. He was assigned to Company E, 506th Regiment – Easy Company – which took part in the D-Day invasion of France and the follow-up Operation Market Garden. The 101st also helped defend Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
The mini-series followed Easy Company from its training in Georgia to the war’s end in 1945. Its producers included actor Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg. Mr Mauser was not among the soldiers portrayed.
Mr Zahn said he kept his service a secret, even from his relatives. After it became known, he reunited with some of his army buddies and made a few public appearances, but preferred to stay out of the limelight.
“Don’t call me a hero,” Mr Mauser told the Lincoln Journal Star in a 2009 interview. “I was just one of the boys. I did what I was told, and let’s leave it at that.”
Mr Mauser had been fighting pancreatic cancer when he died, Mr Zahn said. He is survived by a daughter, Laurie Fowler of Omaha.