Band of Brothers: Episode 10, Chpts. 17-19

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HBO Synopsis: Points

Once home to the top officers of the Third Reich, Easy Co. enters the Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden, and captures “Eagle’s Nest,” Hitler’s mountaintop fortress. Facing imminent deployment to the Pacific Theater, the men compare their “points” to see who has earned enough to go home. However, the Japanese surrender ends the war. A closing vignette tells what happened to the men of Easy Company after they returned home.

This episode is a great close to the miniseries. The actual soldiers of Easy, who give introductory commentary prior to each episode are revealed, we get to see their joy at being off the front, their frustration at not being able to go home, their fatigue and resentment at waiting to deploy to the Pacific, and the effects of no one to fight and endless supplies of alcohol, ammo, and vehicles.

One aspect I really appreciated about these last chapters though, is the level of soldierly respect between the German and American soldiers. Besides the Nazis, who were tracked down and sent to prisons, the average German soldier and American soldier had a common bond through war and were able to show each other mutual respect and solidarity.

And the reason for Ambrose’s focus on Easy, the rare bond that these men forged, was brought home one more time. After talking about how much the men hated the Army, how much they hated the war, it all came back to this: “They also found in combat the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They found selflessness. They found they could love the other guy in their foxhole more than themselves. They found that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.” (289)

The majority of the men went on to lead very successful lives, some finding wealth, but most finding a niche of the world to call their own and carve out a good life. Many went into teaching or building, though some also fought issues of PTSD and an inability to figure out where they belonged outside of combat.

The ending of the book though, which was also the ending of the show, is an amazing quote that I think sums up how all of these men felt about each other (and that always make me misty eyed):

“Mike Ranney wrote: In thinking back on the days of Easy Company, I’m treasuring my remark to a grandson who asked, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ ‘No,’ I answered, ‘but I served in a company of heroes’.” (307)

Ok, now I need to go watch the show all over again.

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