For the second time in as many days I am again saddened to be writing about another Veteran from Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne “Band of Brother’s” passing.
Yesterday I learned of the passing of Earl “One Lung” McClung on the 27th of November, then as I posted that, I was told of the passing of Edward “Babe” Heffron also from the unit. Edward was one of the “Replacements” that came into Easy Company about a month after the first D-Day jump made by the 2/506th.
Heffron was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Robin Laing. Heffron wrote Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Brothers Tell Their Story with fellow veteran William “Wild Bill” Guarnere and journalist Robyn Post in 2007.
As a member of Easy Company, Heffron fought in several major battles, including Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium. During the Battle of the Bulge he served as a machine gunner and was awarded the Bronze Star. He helped liberate the Kaufering concentration camp in Landsberg, Germany, and in the seizure of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus).
While at jump school Heffron made a pact with his two best friends, John T. “Johnny” Julian and J. D. Henderson, that if anything happened to one of them, the others would gather up that person’s personal belongings and return them to that person’s family, while also making sure that they contacted the family and carried out any other individual requests. Henderson was wounded in Veghel, and made it back to the U.S.
Julian became Heffron’s best friend during the time they shared while in front-line combat. On January 1, 1945, Heffron was in his foxhole manning his machine gun when he heard Sergeant Johnny Martin cry out that Julian had been hit. He left his position and attempted to get to Julian, but enemy fire prevented any approach. Every time he tried to make a move for Julian the Germans opened fire, driving Heffron and his fellow soldiers back. Later, the squad that Julian was in repelled the Germans and brought back his body, but Heffron couldn’t bring himself to look at his friend’s corpse.
Heffron thereafter maintained he always hated New Year’s Day, with its reminder of the anniversary of his friend “Johnny” Julian’s death; he also thereafter always felt a similar dislike concerning Christmas Day, with its reminder of the anniversary of his Battle of the Bulge experiences in Bastogne. It was twelve years after the war ended before Heffron could bring himself to call Julian’s mother, honoring the pact he and his friends had made at jump school.
In early May, 1945, after Easy Company’s penultimate operation, the capture of the Eagle’s Nest, Heffron was standing guard duty at a crossroads near Berchtesgaden when German General Theodor Tolsdorff, commander of the LXXXII Corps, came down the road leading 31 vehicles (much of it loaded with the General’s personal property). The general told Heffron that he wished to surrender, but only to an officer, not to an enlisted man. The officer who ultimately accepted the surrender was Lt. Carwood Lipton.
Below is his shadow box:
Edward participated in the following major battles of WWII:
- Operation Market Garden
- Battle of the Bulge
Below is a still of Robin Laing portraying Edward in the series “Band of Brothers”.
Heffron also had non-speaking cameo appearance in “Band of Brothers” in part 4 – Replacements. He played one of the civilians in the town of Eindhoven. He was sitting at a table waving a Dutch flag.
We have lost two Veterans of Easy Company in a matter of days. The “Greatest Generation” begin to leave us in greater numbers, we must not forget them, or what they did for this great country.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Heffron’s family and friends, and we honor the sacrifice these men made so long ago. May they always be remembered, “Lest We Forget.”
The article on Earl McClung’s passing can be seen here: Earl McClung