This week marks the 78th anniversary of the Siege at Bastogne, a pivotal confrontation in Battle of the Bulge, which saw the Allied forces assert their most courageous and bloody defense against the last big push by Nazi forces in WWII.
The Bastogne episode of Band of Brothers was arguably the most emotionally intense and beautifully filmed of the series. It was like watching a dream sequence through a filter of constant snow, a bitter cold that you could almost feel in your bones as you’re watching. Like an opera of bodies, bent over, running for cover, crouching near trees, or frozen solid to the ground. You could watch all the action without sound and still feel it viscerally.
Did anyone see the new Star Wars? The sight of the salt planet with the blood red soil under the thin layer of salt brought immediately to this viewer’s mind the red against white of the smoke grenades the soldiers in Band of Brothers set off to obscure their positions from the Germans. Such a visually poignant and memorable cinematic effect.
Today is Veterans Day – a day of honoring all men and women that served in the United States armed forces. And it gives us a great opportunity to salute all war heroes, and in particular Major Dick Winters and Easy Company.
I know a thing or two about war. My day job is to study and understand war. I have written academic articles on war, I have taught on war… and even though I can write about war for pages and talk about it for hours as a scholar, the human cost of war is still incomprehensible to me.
Let me take a moment and look at my own family. My maternal grandmother never knew her father because he was a soldier in WWI in the Eastern Front in Turkey, and he literally froze because of the cold as he fought against the Russians. My paternal grandmother never knew her father, either; because he was also a soldier in WWI and was killed by a shrapnel in Gallipoli as he fought against the Anzacs. Continue reading “It’s Veterans Day! We Salute Major Dick Winters – The Rank and The Man”
When Damian attended the ceremonies for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day on Utah Beach back in 2014, he met the WWII veteran Jim “Pee Wee” Martin. A member of the 101st Airborne Division, Martin got his nickname because he was the lightest man in his regiment. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and was also a part of the ill-fated “Operation Market Garden” and the Ardenne Forest Offensive aka “Battle of the Bulge” during the WWII. He was 93 years old on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day but this did not hold him back from parachuting into Normandy to re-live that day all over again! And he did it again, in Holland this time, on the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden. He was 98. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday to D-Day’s 70th Anniversary on Utah Beach: In Memory of Jim “Pee Wee” Martin”
As one of the most iconic mini-series of all times, Band of Brothers may have turned 21 but it has never got old. People are still in love with Damian Lewis’ Major Winters and his Easy Company and thousands of families and friends enjoy a Band of Brothers marathon (multiple times!) every year.
To celebrate the 21th anniversary of the mini-series, HBO had Roger Bennett host an official Band of Brothers 12-episode podcast that followed the Easy Company’s footsteps from Normandy to the Eagle’s Nest, episode by episode, with insight from Tom Hanks as well as actors who brought the members of Easy Company to life – including Ron Livingston, Donny Wahlberg, Matthews Settle, Scott Grimes and our beloved Damian Lewis. Continue reading “Band of Brothers at 21: Revisiting Dick Winters”