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Staff Sergeant Ed Shames

506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Ed Shames parachuted into Normandy aged just 21. Shames had signed up to the newly formed 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in search of excitement - which he soon found.

As Operations Sergeant his job was to brief troops on their objective in the days leading up to the invasion using maps, photos and a huge sand-table.

After dropping early on D-Day morning, the battalion was to make its way to two bridges over the River Douve which they were to attack and hold. Providing a crossing point between Utah and Omaha beaches, the bridges would allow troops to link up, creating a solid bridgehead from which to advance.

By keeping the bridges out of German control, the paratroopers could also prevent the Germans moving troops and equipment in support of the fight on the beaches.

Shames led a small band of men to the bridges which they defended valiantly until they were destroyed by friendly fire on D+1. He continued to fight all the way through to Germany.