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Last WWII ‘Band of Brothers’ member dies at 97

WWII veteran Bradford Freeman, stands with members from the 43rd Flying Training Squadron at Freeman’s residency Sept. 3, 2020 in Miss. . (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keith Holcomb)
July 06, 2022

Pfc. Bradford Freeman, the last surviving member of U.S. Army unit E “Easy” Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne — whose World War II exploits were told in the book “Band of Brothers” and the HBO miniseries of the same name — died on Sunday.

According to an obituary from Lowndes Funeral Home, Freeman passed away on Sunday, July 3, 2022, at Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle at the age of 97.

According to Deadline, Freeman was the last remaining member of the unit after Col. Edward Shames died in December at 99 years old.

According to Freeman’s obituary, he was born on September 4, 1924, in Artesia, Miss. He had four brothers and three sisters.

He volunteered for the Army’s paratroopers after the start of World War II. Freeman was trained as a mortarman and participated in the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy and the attempted bridgehead over the Rhine River in “Operation Market Garden” in Holland. Freeman also on to fight in the defense of Bastogne known as the “Battle of the Bulge,” where he was wounded. He was able to recover from his injuries and rejoin his unit and participated in the occupations of Berchtesgaden, Germany, and Austria toward the end of the war.

After the war, Freeman returned home to marry Willie Louise Gurley on June 29, 1947.

Freeman and his wife had two daughters (Beverly Bowles and Becky Clardy), four grandchildren (Brad Gore, Chris Clardy, Kelly Perkins, and Michael Clardy) and 10 grandchildren.

Freeman’s children wrote in the obituary, “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 is also survived by his sister, Claydeen Allen.

After returning home from World War II, Freeman worked as a mail carrier for 32 years.

A graveside funeral service will be held on Friday, June 8, at 10:00 AM in Caledonia, Miss.

Author Stephen E. Ambrose researched and told the stories of the men of E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne for his 1992 book “Band of Brothers.” Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks went on to produce a miniseries based on the book for HBO, which aired in 2001 and received critical acclaim, winning seven primetime Emmy awards, a Golden Globe award for best Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television and numerous other accolades.