Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2002

A “Band of Brothers”

February 20, 2002

Sometimes a title doesn't really capture the essence of a book or movie. That isn't the case with the recent HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," said Paul Rogers, a consultant on the miniseries and World War II veteran.

Rogers, an Overland Park resident, served in the war for three years.

He was a member of Easy Company, the 506th Parachute Regiment during the war.

"We stayed in the same company, same platoon all the way through the war," Rogers said. "After a while you get to know people pretty well and we got friendly just like real brothers."

The cable miniseries is based on the efforts of Rogers and other members of E Company. The 10-part miniseries debuted on Sept. 9 and was produced by Steven Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks.

Rogers spoke with members of the Bonner Springs Veterans of Foreign Wars during a Korean War veteran's celebration on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Community Building at South Park.

Rogers said the 506th Parachute Regiment was original for its time. It was an experimental unit that trained together and would eventually fight together.

As a result, the remaining members are close to this day.

There are only 19 of the original members left, and they have met for an annual reunion for the past 27 years.

It was that togetherness that garnered the attention of author Stephen Ambrose, who interviewed members of E Company for a book, and then Hanks and Spielberg for the miniseries.

Ambrose is renowned for writing historical books, and Hanks and Spielberg previously worked together on the World War II epic "Saving Private Ryan."

Rogers said all of the remaining members of E Company were brought to Europe for the filming of "Band of Brothers."

"They asked all of us questions and we got to meet Hanks, but we talked to the writers the most," he said.

Rogers is not portrayed in the movie, although he can be seen in a documentary about E Company that was released by HBO as part of the miniseries.

During his tenure in the war, Rogers said he made numerous jumps into battle, including a D-Day drop into Normandy on June 6, 1944, and a similar drop into Holland on Sept. 10, 1944.

Rogers downplayed his D-Day drop, which aided the United States Armed Forces storming the French beachhead.

"I was just one of 12,000 that parachuted into Normandy, no better or no worse," he said.

E Company sustained heavy casualties during the war. Rogers said the division started with 141 men during training in Georgia and finished the war with far fewer.

Rogers was one of the few members of his company to survive World War II combat.

Although facing daily dangers, Rogers was wounded only once during the war.

In the Holland drop, Rogers said he was hit in the forearm by a mortar shot. The wound kept him out of action for four weeks, he said.

Despite facing death nearly every day, Rogers returned home to Kansas safely in 1945.

He remains centered on his experiences in the war.

"I wouldn't have missed it and I wouldn't want to do it again," Rogers said.

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