Bradford Freeman, the last remaining member of the legendary Easy Company, 101st Airborne Division — immortalized in the miniseries “Band of Brothers” — has died at the age of 97.
Freeman passed away on Sunday at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, in Caledonia, MS, according to a report from Stars and Stripes.
Profound sadness to learn of the passing of the last surviving member of easy company Mr.Brad Freeman, to my freinds that knew him and to Mr.Freemans family, my deepest sympathy and best wishes.
Gods speed Sir.❤ pic.twitter.com/xyxQpxDARp
— Band of Brothers Behind the Scenes (@BandBehind) July 4, 2022
“Our dad was always astounded that a country boy from Mississippi was able to see so many places and meet so many interesting people,” Freeman’s daughter’s wrote in his obituary.
Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum responded to the news that the famous MSU alumnus had passed, saying, “Mr. Freeman was a true hero. He and so many of his generation stepped up during our nation’s time of need. I am so thankful for the legacy of the men and women of this ‘greatest generation’ who sacrificed so much for all the freedoms and liberties we tend to take for granted. I’m also proud that Mr. Freeman was a Bulldog.”
Trained as a paratrooper with with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Freeman was a 19-year-old private first class (PFC) when he parachuted into Normandy on June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Overlord. Because he was a mortarman, he jumped with a base plate attached to his chest.
Freeman was part of every major engagement in Europe, parachuting into Normandy and then fighting in Operation Market-Garden. He was later wounded during the German siege of Bastogne — better known as the Battle of the Bulge. Once he recovered from his injuries, he returned to his unit — where he participated in the occupations of Berchtesgaden in Germany and Austria.
“He was in every major engagement in Europe during World War II,” local historian Rufus Ward said during an event for Freeman’s 96th birthday. “He’s a true American hero and we need to honor those people … we owe them more than we could ever repay them.”
He returned to his hometown after the war, where he married Willie Louise Gurley in 1947. He worked as a mail carrier for 32 years.
Freeman was portrayed in HBO’s “Band of Brothers” by actor James Farmer.
The last remaining officer from the legendary unit, Edward Shames, passed away on Dec. 3, 2021. Shames was the first member of the 101st Airborne to walk into Dachau, the Nazi regime’s longest-operating concentration camp, and he famously toasted at his son’s bar mitzvah with cognac — labeled “for the Fuhrer’s use only” — that he stole from Adolf Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.