Episode three is titled “Carentan,” after the town that was Easy’s objective.
The episode chronicles Easy’s first major objective since D-Day. Then men were all sleep deprived and adjusting to being in a war zone. As they moved to take Carentan many of them also fully experienced the terror of war.
This episode follows a Private Blithe, who in the book is actually only mentioned twice. The choice to follow Blithe though was I think a good call by Hanks and Spielberg – he illustrated an extreme version of the fear these men were dealing with. Blithe goes blind from fear as they take Carentan, later gaining it back when Winters talked to him and calmed him down. (page 98)
This episode not only shows fear though, but the incredible bravery of the men. The chaplain who walked through the street giving soldiers the last rights as explosions go off and bullets fly past him. Of Winters and the other leading officers who did just that, and lead the men by example. And also, of the resilience of the human body. It’s amazing what many of the men were able to withstand while wounded, determined to achieve their mission and keep their buddies safe.
To the book: One thing I think needs a bigger presence in popular history (someone make a movie out of this!) is the glider infantry regiments. No one hears anything about them! Ambrose has mentioned them twice up to this point, but I mean, who wants to be flying gliders in this war!?
Another thing Ambrose points out, the failings (probably a tougher word than necessary) of the senior officers. Moving into position to take Carentan took all night, and by the time the assault came the men were exhausted. Basically it goes to show how little the Army changes. Winters was furious though at the state of the operation up to that point. And it didn’t help for when the time to move came. As the men moved into the town a machine gunner targeted them, Lt. Welsh and seven men made it in before the rest of the company dove into the ditches on the sides of the road and froze. it took Winters running around, drawing the machine gun fire, kicking and screaming at them to get them moving again (because they had never seen that side of Winters, he basically snapped them out of their fear). It was an incredible scene in the show and in the book – emphasizing the various reactions of men in war and how much a good leader influences his men. (pages 94-6)
After taking Carentan the company held it, and when they were relieved on June 29, 1944 they had been in the field for 23 days. The 506th had suffered about 50% casualties, the most of any regiment in the campaign. (page 105)