Local man talks about his Band of Brothers
You’ve most likely heard of the Band of Brothers. For many soldiers, memories from the battlefield are something they’d rather forget, but one Oak Island man, who was part of that group, is now sharing his stories from World War II.
“I am not a hero, but I fought with a company of heroes,” said Band of Brothers soldier Henry Zimmerman. “My hope is that my story and those of others will encourage today’s youth to carry on a legacy of freedom for all.”
For Henry Zimmerman, the sounds of gunfire and mortar attacks have long been replaced by the quiet hum of an oxygen machine. That hasn’t stopped him from breathing new life into old memories he once tried to block.
“When you go into a battle like that you want to forget it as quick as you can. You got hurt too many times loosing your friends and buddies,” said the veteran of WWII.
Zimmerman was only 17 when the U.S. joined WWII, too young to fight for his country.
But a year later he was off to the army, a teenager on his way to war. “You have to learn a lot of things before you go into combat,” Zimmerman said. The most important thing he learned? “Stay alive!”
Despite fighting the Germans and temperatures dropping to 30 below zero at the Battle of the Bulge, he did just that.
Many of his brothers weren’t as lucky. “My buddy got killed and that’s hard to take, that’s the hardest part of war.”
When Stephen Ambrose wrote Band of Brothers, Zimmerman wasn’t ready to share what he had seen. Several years later when HBO contacted him about the television show, Zimmerman changed his mind. “I felt alright because it’s been quite a while and I figured people should know about what went on.”
Zimmerman has once again opened up to speak about the war. His thoughts are captured in Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers.
For his wife Millie of 58 years, it’s the first time she’s heard many of the stories, and there’s only one thing she can say to her solider, “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
But Zimmerman said he can’t take all the credit. “It’s not just my stories, it’s all of our stories.” After all, he had a band of brothers behind him.
Zimmerman was awarded several medals, including the Bronze Star, for his service during World War II. He still keeps in contact with many of the men who fought beside him in the war.
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