Band of Brothers Still Remembered

The television miniseries Band of Brothers depicted a brazen unit of the United States military, a shining example of courage and camaraderie. This miniseries was actually based on the efforts of a real group of people, a unit of the 101st Airborne during the Second World War. The formal name of the unit was the Easy Company, their regiment was that of the 506th Parachute Infantry. Due to their service, they will always be more fondly known as the Band of Brothers.

The unit consisted of heroic men such as “Wild Bill” Guarnerre, a sergeant who was known for his temper and his somewhat loose moral beliefs, though those who served with him still sang his praises. Also included in the Band of Brothers were Ronald Spiers, a tough but amiable captain, and Frank Sobeleski, a former background actor in American Western films. On paper, they sounded like an oddball bunch, but in actuality they were hard-working and earnest soldiers.

Sobeleski, who still survives to this day, had originally wanted to be a jet pilot. He was unable to make the cut due to issues with his vision, but he was still able to become a solid paratrooper. He entered the fray as a member of the fabled Band of Brothers in 1944, when they were fighting their way from Holland to Italy and all over the European continent. Interestingly enough, when HBO was working on their special, Sobeleski’s character was overlooked. Nevertheless, he had some interesting stories.

One of Sobeleski’s more intriguing stories involved swimming half-naked across a river to take three Germans captive. According to one of the captives, he could have easily died. Even though Sobeleski himself is not present in the scene, the ordeal does show up in Band of Brothers with some alterations. Sobeleski actually was offered to be made into one of the HBO special’s main characters, but he would not sign off on it. Following the war, he dealt with a great deal of PTSD and did not want his name included in the script, the Northland’s News Center reports.

Still, when Band of Brothers premiered, Sobeleski had a bit of a reunion with his surviving comrades. He still very much admires their efforts in the war and appears honored to call them friends. Sobeleski does not need to be made into a character on a TV show to feel that he took part in something epic. He was in the real Band of Brothers, and he knows them better than television audiences ever will.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE