Band of Brothers' Unit Loses Another Hero
Ed Mauser passed away on Friday at the age of 94, according to the Omaha World Herald. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Easy Company’s oldest surviving veteran, Ed Mauser began his military service at age 24, on January 15, 1942, when he was drafted shortly after Pearl Harbor. Initially assigned to an Army Horse Cavalry unit, at Ft. Benning he observed the paratroopers in training and volunteered. Following completion of jump school he joined the 101st Airborne at Ft. Bragg and Easy Company’s 2nd Platoon.
On D-Day, Mauser parachuted into the hedgerows of Normandy with Chalk #69. He landed alone before linking-up with Sgt. Robert “Burr” Smith outside the town of Vireville. They soon found themselves in a vicious firefight around a farm house near the town. Although assigned to a machine gun squad, Mauser served primarily as a rifleman throughout the war, trusting his M-1 from the initial fight on D-Day to the Alpine forests of Austria.
During Market Garden, Mauser was one of 23 E-Company men who participated in the famous mission to cross the Lower Rhine on the night of Oct. 22, 1944 to rescue 120 British paratrooper survivors of the 1st British Airborne Division after their battle at Arnhem. That night rescue in German-occupied territory electrified the Allied Command, then reeling after the loss of over 7,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in the Arnhem assault. This daring mission remains one of the most successful operations of the entire war with not one casualty recorded. Mauser remembers guarding the left flank of the river beach, expecting an imminent attack that thankfully never came. His job was to protect the withdrawal of the survivor at all costs.
Following Holland, Mauser made the truck ride to Bastogne, clad in his regular fatigues. He endured the “toughest” battle of the war, “thanks to good fortune and the brotherhood that was Easy Company.” He reports being blessed by having a foxhole complex built by “someone who knew what he was doing.” The sturdy structure with a roof saved his life.
Mauser vividly recalls the breakout battle at Foy. Prior to the fight he, Sal Bellino, Richard Davenport, and John Plesha were sent on a night recon patrol of the town that was successful because “nobody was injured.” Mauser remembers that the battle for the town, which followed, was memorable in that Lt. Speirs demonstrated that his reputation as a fierce combat warrior was true. After Foy was taken, the fighting moved to Noville, where Mauser was wounded in the hand and sent to a hospital in France.
Mauser rejoined the unit as it moved along the autobahn toward Hitler’s alpine home in Berchtesgarden. Mauser spent his time there securing homes and farms and enjoying the beauty of the area in the absence of combat. Later, in Kaprun, Austria, Mauser was awarded the 85 points he had earned and shipped back to the states. On Sept. 17, 1945 he was discharged from the army in Chicago. Today, Mauser enjoys his retirement, proud of the fact that he is the oldest survivor of Easy Company at age 92.
Rest in Peace sir.....jd