Edward James “Babe” Heffron, prominently featured in the World War II “Band of Brothers” miniseries based on the Army’s famed Easy Company, has died of colon cancer.
Heffron died Sunday at a Stratford, N.J., hospital, ABC News
reports. He was 90.
A reluctant star, Heffron always insisted he wasn’t a hero, that he simply accepted the call of duty in his country’s time of need.
“He felt the heroes were the moms who sent their kids off and the guys who never came back,” his son-in-law Ed Zavrel told Fox News
When the 11-episode miniseries debuted on HBO in September 2001, 10 million viewers tuned in, making it the second most-watched television series in history, behind the Sopranos, according to Yahoo
The dramatic series told tales of “brotherhood and bravery” shown by members of Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. It began with the paratroopers’ jump training in Georgia to Japan’s capitulation and the war’s end.
The series, which still airs on television networks around the world, was based on historian Stephen Ambrose’s book by the same name.
With William “Wild Bill” Guthrie and journalist Robyn Post, Heffron in 2007 penned a memoir titled “Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends.”
Private Heffron joined Easy Company right after the Normandy Invasion and took part in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, among other bloody battles. The Army awarded him a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his service.
After returning to his hometown of south Philadelphia when the war ended, Heffron worked at a whiskey distillery and later checked cargo on the Delaware waterfront.
After the book and miniseries rose to iconic popularity, Heffron participated in a 2008 USO tour to the Middle East. He often was spotted walking around Philadelphia in his airborne jacket and hat and regularly spoke at local schools, spending hours telling war stories and life lessons, according to Fox News.
“Babe didn’t want any fanfare,” Zavrel said, noting that his family plans to hold a private funeral service with some of his war comrades.
“He was never one for tears. He said you got to do what you got to do,” Zavrel added.
Heffron is survived by his wife, Dolores, and their daughter, Patricia Zavrel.
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