The True Story Behind the Spaghetti Run in ‘Band of Brothers’

Photo Credit: jeffw616 / HBO / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: jeffw616 / HBO / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB

Band of Brothers (2001) is often considered a realistic retelling of the bravery of the men of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division during the Second World War. The HBO miniseries has earned itself a cult following, and for good reason. One of the scenes that stuck with viewers involved a rather uncomfortable trip up Currahee – but just how accurate was this spaghetti run in Band of Brothers?

The spaghetti run scene in Band of Brothers (2001)

The first episode of Band of Brothers – titled “Currahee” – presents the basic training the men of Easy Company completed at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. During an unexpected break in their rigorous schedule, they indulge in a spaghetti lunch (or “Army noodles with ketchup”), which they hungrily wolf down.

In the midst of their meal, Herbert Sobel (David Schwimmer) bursts into the mess hall, claiming “orders changed” and telling Easy Company that they’re “running up Currahee.” As can be expected, this was a less-than-welcome surprise, with the men’s stomachs heavy with the carbs they’d just eaten.

While running up the mountain, vomiting their meals in the process, the men are berated by Sobel, who tells one that he doesn’t “deserve to get your wings.” He also informs them that ambulances are following behind, in case anyone needs to tap out. The scene ends with Sobel watching the men run ahead of him, before he rejoins the run without issue, having not partaken in the spaghetti meal.

Did the spaghetti run actually happen?

Damian Lewis and David Schwimmer as Richard Winters and Herbert Sobel in 'Band of Brothers'
Band of Brothers, 2001. (Photo Credit: jeffw616 / HBO / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB)

The question is, did the spaghetti run depicted in Band of Brothers actually happen? The answer: yes, it did.

The book the miniseries is based on includes testimony from a soldier known as “Tipper,” who was among those to take part in the infamous training exercise. As he recounts, “We were told, ‘Relax. No runs today.’ We were taken to the mess hall for a tremendous meal of spaghetti at lunchtime.”

He continues, “We went to the top of Currahee and back with a couple of ambulances following, and men vomiting spaghetti everywhere along the way. Those who dropped out and accepted the medics’ invitation to ride back in the ambulances found themselves shipped out that same day.”

While Herbert Sobel believed tactics like this would make his men combat-ready, they only further sowed the seeds of anger and resentment among the men of Easy Company.

The men of Easy Company despised Herbert Sobel

David Schwimmer as Herbert Sobel in 'Band of Brothers' + Hebert Sobel wearing his military uniform
David Schwimmer as Herbert Sobel in Band of Brothers (2001) + Herbert Sobel during the Second World War. (Photo Credit: 1. mdew / HBO / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB 2. US Army / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The animosity the characters in Band of Brothers feel toward Herbert Sobel mirrors the dislike the real-life men of Easy Company had for their superior. Known as the “Black Swan” by officers, he was known for being petty and domineering, with a tendency to punish his men for the tiniest of infractions. For example, he punished Richard Winters for failing to show up for an inspection of soldiers cleaning the latrines, despite him not informing the then-first lieutenant of the time change.

Sobel initially served as the commanding officer of Easy Company, leading the men during their basic training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of captain, which did little to increase the respect he received from those he commanded. He was incredibly strict and made his troops train harder than those around them.

The lack of respect Sobel received ultimately reached his superiors, as did his inability to read maps or quickly adapt to changing battlefield conditions. This led to his reassignment to an airborne school in Chilton Foliat, United Kingdom. He was replaced by 1st Lt. Thomas Meehan.

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Despite their dislike for Sobel, the men of Easy Company later credited him for their discipline and success in the field. Winters echoed these sentiments, once stating, “One of the reasons that Easy Company excelled was undoubtedly Captain Sobel.”

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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