Tom Hanks Says Farewell to “Brothers”

greatest generation

Tom Hanks remembers Babe Heffron and Earl McClung, members of the WWII “Band of Brothers.”

Dec 3, 2013 | 06:10 PM

Although it’s been 12 years since Tom Hanks produced “Band of Brothers” for HBO, he hasn’t forgotten the real heroes who inspired the award-winning WWII miniseries.

Yesterday, Tom posted a picture of the 101st Airborne Division patch in memory of the recent passing of Edward “Babe” Heffron and Earl McClung, two members of the famed Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, and characters in “Band of Brothers.”


Mr. Heffron, 90, died Sunday, December 1 at Kennedy Hospital in Stratford, New Jersey. He served as a machine gunner from 1941 to 1945 and fought in some of the major battles of the WWII European Theater, including Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, later using these experiences as fodder for a memoir. Mr. Heffron also helped to liberate the Kaufering concentration camp and aided the Allies in seizing Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. He was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his valor in battle. Mr. Heffron was played by actor Robin Laing in the “Band of Brothers” mini series, which aired on HBO in 2001. He is survived by his wife, the former Dolores Moffitt, and his daughter, Patricia Zavrel. 

Edward “Babe” Heffron (L) and Robin Laing as Mr. Heffron in “Band of Brothers” (R)


Mr. McClung, also 90, died November 27 at his home in Pueblo West, Colorado. He served as a scout for Easy Company and made his first parachute combat jump onto Normandy the night before D-Day. He also jumped into the Netherlands for Operation Market Garden and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. He was played by actor Rocky Marshall in the “Band of Brothers” series and is survived by his wife of 76 years, Jean McClung.

Earl McClung (L) and Rocky Marshall as Mr. McClung in “Band of Brothers” (R)

When he and Spielberg originally created the miniseries, Tom said that their goal was to put the conflict "into human terms, so it is not just a flickering, black-and-white myth on a screen, it is a resonant story. I want the audience to recognize themselves in these men. They're not just mythic heroes."

And his mission continues. In 2010, the pair created "The Pacific," and earlier this year, HBO confirmed that they will team up yet again for a third World War II-based miniseries, based on Donald L. Miller's "Masters of the Air."

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