America has lost another legend. Ed “Babe” Heffron of the legendary WWII E-506th.

 Ed "Babe" Heffron of the legendary WWII E-506th.

Ed “Babe” Heffron of the legendary WWII E-506th.

Edward “Babe” Heffron, May 16, 1923 – December 1, 2013

“I want people to know we’re not heroes. We did our duty, just like sixteen million others who fought in the war. Everyone, including the families, sacrificed in some way. The kids who didn’t come home are the heroes. They’re the ones who gave their lives. Their parents are the heroes, because they gave a child.

As a member of Easy Company, Heffron fought in several major battles, including Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands and the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium. During the Battle of the Bulge he served as a machine gunner and was awarded the Bronze Star. He helped liberate the Kaufering concentration camp in Landsberg, Germany, and in the seizure of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus).

While at jump school Heffron made a pact with his two best friends, John T. “Johnny” Julian and J. D. Henderson, that if anything happened to one of them, the others would gather up that person’s personal belongings and return them to that person’s family, while also making sure that they contacted the family and carried out any other individual requests. Henderson was wounded in Veghel, and made it back to the U.S.

Julian became Heffron’s best friend during the time they shared while in front-line combat. On January 1, 1945, Heffron was in his foxhole manning his machine gun when he heard Sergeant Johnny Martin cry out that Julian had been hit. He left his position and attempted to get to Julian, but enemy fire prevented any approach. Every time he tried to make a move for Julian the Germans opened fire, driving Heffron and his fellow soldiers back. Later, the squad that Julian was in repelled the Germans and brought back his body, but Heffron couldn’t bring himself to look at his friend’s corpse.

edHeffron thereafter maintained he always hated New Year’s Day, with its reminder of the anniversary of his friend “Johnny” Julian’s death; he also thereafter always felt a similar dislike concerning Christmas Day, with its reminder of the anniversary of his Battle of the Bulge experiences in Bastogne. It was twelve years after the war ended before Heffron could bring himself to call Julian’s mother, honoring the pact he and his friends had made at jump school.

In early May, 1945, after Easy Company’s penultimate operation, the capture of the Eagle’s Nest, Heffron was standing guard duty at a crossroads near Berchtesgaden when German General Theodor Tolsdorff, commander of the LXXXII Corps, came down the road leading 31 vehicles (much of it loaded with the General’s personal property). The general told Heffron that he wished to surrender, but only to an officer, not to an enlisted man. The officer who ultimately accepted the surrender was Lt. Carwood Lipton.