Wednesday, September 28, 2016 –
CHICAGO – “Color Guard, post the colors.” A deafening silence filled the room; then the whisper of a cadence flowed out between the flag bearers.
“Column left. March. Left, right, left, right…”
All eyes were locked onto the American flag carried by the Army Reserve’s 85th Support Command color guard team; each attendee turned as the nation’s colors made its way through the room to its holding place for the ceremony. There in front of the flag proudly stood two men from Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, for their 70th reunion, Sept. 24, 2016, hosted at the Union League Club in Chicago.
The famed Easy Company became widely known in part due to an HBO mini series called Band of Brothers. The 506th PIR was an experimental airborne regiment created in 1942 in Toccoa, Georgia.
Easy Company played a role in Operation Overlord on D-Day, Operation Pegasus, and the Battle of the Bulge. According to Chris Langlois, founder of the Band of Brothers Foundation, three hundred and sixty men were listed as assigned to Easy Company by the end of WWII, of those men forty-nine were killed.
“It’s great to be here,” said veteran Albert “Al” Mampre. “I try to come to all of these (ceremonies) and talk with others. There’s not many of us left,” Mampre said with a small chuckle.
Mampre was a staff sergeant who worked as a medic with Easy Company from 1942 to 1945.
The 70th reunion was filled with remembrances for those who had served in Easy Company. A slide show presentation there documented how many of the soldiers and their families lived after World War II; messages were also read aloud about people who were grateful for the service of these men to include a message from the former Commander in Chief George W. Bush.
“During World War Two, America’s Armed Forces served with courage and selflessness… Many of your fellow comrades gave their lives in defense of our country during World War Two and we will never forget these warriors,” read an email from Bush. “Your continued commitment to our country is an inspiration.”
The reunion was organized by the Band of Brothers Foundation, a non-for-profit organization dedicated to keeping the history of Easy Company alive.
“I thought that it was important to honor these guys and create a legacy that would continue with us,” said Langlois,
The night continued with presentations and honors to include a reading of a citywide proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, read by three actors from HBO’s Band of Brothers mini series. The proclamation read for September 24, and September 25, 2016 to be ‘Band of Brothers Weekend’ in Chicago.
“It was an honor to be in the presence of two (soldiers) who had to go through World War Two and to hear their stories,” said Army Reserve Spc. Matthew Kelly, 85th Support Command.
At the conclusion of the night, the 85th Support Command marched out to retrieve the colors. The look of patriotic pride filled the room as the soldier’s marching was the only sound heard until it echoed completely out of earshot.