Walter Zagol's reaction to Band of Brothers

MAY 2002
- You bet I watched it,” was Association member Walter Zagol’s reaction
when asked if he tuned in to Band of Brothers, a 10-part miniseries
which recently aired on HBO.

The
show, a TV adaptation of Stephen E. Ambrose’s bestseller, depicted the
odyssey of members of a unit of the 101st Airborne Division as they
slogged their way from the beaches of Normandy to Hitler’s mountain
retreat in Austria during World War II.

Zagol, whom we earlier profiled in our publication’s series on The Greatest Generation,
said that the the producers of Band did a very accurate job, within the
limits of TV, of showing what role the Screaming Eagles (101st) played
in the Big One.

“The series not only
gave much deserved recognition to the 101st, but also called attention
to the hardships and bravery of individuals... actually the love and
loyalty that soldiers have for each other in the face of death,” Zagol
said.

While reluctant to talk about
his own bravery, it should be noted that Zagol’s platoon jumped into
Normandy six hours before U.S. troops hit the beach on D-Day.

After
taking a bullet in the leg, he continued to fight until his badly
depleted platoon was evacuated. After fresh troops replaced those lost,
he jumped again. His platoon was nearly wiped out during the Battle of
the Bulge where Zagol suffered severe shrapnel wounds. He was
hospitalized in England and finally returned to an army hospital in the
U.S. in September 1945.

It was his wife,
Adela, like Walter, a Taunton native, who told us that her husband has
two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. The Bronze Star citations
describe Walter’s bravery in carrying a badly wounded buddy while under
fire and assaulting a German machine gun position despite painful
shrapnel wounds.

“After what happened on September 11th, the Band of Brothers
had to take a back seat, and rightfully so,” said Zagol. “World War II
was then and September 11th is now. I know that World War II and the
101st Airborne will not be forgotten, but the dead heroes, and in fact
all of the dead, of September 11th should never be forgotten.

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