'Band of Brothers' Actors Are Training to Parachute into Normandy for the 80th Anniversary of D-Day


Few younger people truly got to know World War II like the cast of "Band of Brothers." Not only was the show based on a meticulously researched history of "Easy" Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, but many of the actors involved in the beloved 2001 miniseries spent time and effort getting to know the World War II veteran counterparts they portrayed on screen. The actors even went through a 10-day boot camp and parachute training.

With the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy approaching in June, some of the actors decided they would commemorate the D-Day landings by training at Camp Toccoa and then jumping into the Cotentin Peninsula.

"We never jumped for real during the series, but we did a lot of training," Alex Sabga-Brady, who played Cpl. Frank Mellet, told the BBC. "We thought it would be a nice close of the circle."

Led by Capt. Dale Dye -- a decorated Marine Corps veteran who conducted the original boot camp; served as the show's military adviser; and also played the role of Col. Robert Sink -- more than a dozen "Band of Brothers" cast members will honor the men who landed on those bloody beaches eight decades ago while also raising money for veterans' charities in the process.

Related: Why 'Band of Brothers' Lasts: A Perspective from One of Its Writers

"The actual amount of Normandy veterans that are alive today is getting smaller and smaller by the week, and there are no surviving members of Easy Company left," said Sabga-Brady.

Most of the 150,000 men who stormed the beaches or parachuted into Nazi-occupied Normandy on June 6, 1944, are no longer with us, and the few thousand who remain are well into their 90s. With every passing year, it becomes more important (and more difficult) to honor those who risked their lives there and are still alive. Once they're gone, the "Band of Brothers" cast might be one of the closest remaining links to their memory.

Sabga-Brady is working on a documentary about the actors' training at Camp Toccoa in Georgia in preparation for their 80th anniversary jump, tentatively titled "The Jump: Currahee to Normandy." The cast members will be in Georgia between March 23 and March 30, 2024, to earn their parachutist wings through the All Airborne Battalion, a nonprofit that aims to remember the legacy of America's veterans by static line and free-fall airborne operations at training events and air shows, among other places.

"The spirit of the cast who made the series so great lives on," Dye says in a video on the documentary's website. "I can't think of a more unique way to honor the men of Easy Company, the original 'Band of Brothers.'"

After a "three miles up, three miles down" charity run at Currahee, the newly minted parachutists will be off to France to take part in the 80th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings.

Joining Dye and Sabga-Brady are Doug Spain ("Tony Garcia"), Nolan Hemmings ("Chuck Grant"), Mark Lawrence ("William Dukeman"), Doug Allen ("Alton Moore"), Dexter Fletcher ("Johnny Martin"), Pete McCabe ("Donald Hoobler"), Rene Moreno ("Joseph Ramirez"), George Calil ("James Alley"), Bart Ruspoli ("Ed Tipper"), Rick Warden ("Harry Welsh") and Christian Black ("Walter Hendrix"). Actor Scott Gibson, who played Andy "Ack Ack" Haldane in HBO's "The Pacific," will also join them.

"If we can in some way, shape or form keep these stories going and keep these memories alive then that is exactly what we tried to do, and it does mean a lot to us as a cast," said Sabga-Brady.

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