Ed Mauser (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Digital Magic Photography)
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A member of the "Band of Brothers" who fought in some of World War II's fiercest European battles, Ed Mauser shunned the limelight and kept his service with the Army unit a secret, even from some of his family.
His role came to light only after a friend loaned him a copy of the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," said his daughter, Laurie Fowler of Omaha. Mauser, who died Friday, told his family that some of the things in the miniseries, like the locations of buildings, weren't quite what he remembered from being there in person.
"He said, 'I know all those places,'" Fowler said.
But before that, "he never talked about it for years and years and years," said Terry Zahn, president of the Midwest chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association. He met Mauser during a 2009 Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial.
Mauser, 94, was the oldest living member of Easy Company, which is often better known now as the "Band of Brothers."
Born Dec. 18, 1916 in LaSalle, Ill., he was drafted in 1942 and volunteered for the 101st Airborne Division. He was assigned to Company E, 506th Regiment — Easy Company — which participated in the D-Day invasion of France and the follow-up Operation Market Garden. The 101st also helped defend Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Easy Company leader Dick Winters for the 1992 book "Band of Brothers," upon which the HBO miniseries that began airing in September 2001 was based. Winters, of Hershey, Pa., died earlier this month at age 92.
The miniseries followed Easy Company from its training in Georgia to the war's end in 1945. Its producers included actor Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg.
Mauser was not among the soldiers portrayed in the miniseries.
Zahn said Mauser kept his service a secret, even from his relatives. Besides being "extremely humble," Fowler said, her father was also sensitive about talking about the war in front of his wife, who had relatives injured in the conflict.
Mauser, who was a watch repairman, worked hard and "prided himself on providing for his family," Fowler said.
"He enjoyed movies, and he absolutely loved 'Band of Brothers,'" she said, adding that her father put the DVD on often.
After his actions became known, Mauser reunited with some of his Army buddies and made a few public appearances. He preferred to stay out of the limelight.
"Don't call me a hero," Mauser told the Lincoln Journal Star in a 2009 interview. "I was just one of the boys. I did what I was told, and let's leave it at that."
Mauser had been fighting pancreatic cancer, Zahn said.
Mauser was preceded in death by his wife, Irene.
A funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday in Omaha. He will be given a military burial at Calvary Cemetery.
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