Fact vs. Fiction: Albert Blithe and Band of Brothers:

Albert Blithe was an original member of the 101st Airborne Division’s Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the Company made famous by the book and miniseries, Band of Brothers. Although mentioned in the book and featured in the miniseries, the true story of Albert Blithe has become obscured by time and legend.

Albert Blithe was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

on June 25th, 1923. In the miniseries, he is portrayed by actor Marc Warren, who speaks with an American Southern accent due more to Warren’s accent abilities than the real Blithe, who spoke with a thick Pennsylvania accent.

Blithe joined Easy Company in 1942 and trained at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. A Private First Class, he was assigned to Easy Company’s 1st platoon, commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Salve Matheson and later 2nd Lieutenant Harry Welsh. Blithe jumped into Normandy with Easy Company on D-Day. Like many paratroopers, he was miss-dropped and joined up with other lost troopers trying to find their respective units and objectives. As portrayed in the miniseries, Blithe suffered from hysterical blindness during the June 10th-15th battle for Carentan, but soon recovered and rejoined his platoon. A few days after the battle, while investigating a farm house he was shot in the shoulder, not the neck as portrayed in the miniseries.

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Wartime photo of Albert Blithe

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Marc Warren as Albert Blithe in the miniseries Band of Brothers

Blithe was evacuated to a hospital in England where he received the Purple Heart on his twenty first birthday. On October 1st, 1944, he was sent to the US for more medical treatment and was discharged from an Army hospital on October 8th, 1945.

After the war, Albert Blithe worked for Westinghouse Electric and attended the 1st Annual Reunion of the 101st Airborne Division Association in 1946. Going back to active duty, Blithe fought in Korea with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team where he earned the Silver Star and two more Purple Hearts. He later served with the 82nd Airborne Division and the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Taiwan.

Easy Company members remember Albert Blithe as a quiet but likeable man. They thought incorrectly, that he was wounded in the neck and died in the 1940’s as stated in both the Band of Brothers book and miniseries. The real Albert Blithe lived until 1967 when he died of a perforated ulcer while on active duty with the US Army in Germany.

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