A member of the "Band of Brothers" who fought in some of World War II's fiercest European battles, Ed Mauser shunned the limelight and kept his service with the Army unit a secret, even from some of his family.
His role came to light only after his brother-in-law got him a copy of the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," said Terry Zahn, who met Mauser during a 2009 Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial. Mauser, who died Friday, told his family that some of the things in the miniseries, like the locations of buildings, weren't quite what he remembered from being there in person.
But before that, "he never talked about it for years and years and years," said Zahn, president of the Midwest chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association.
Mauser, 94, was the oldest living member of Easy Company, which is often better known now as the "Band of Brothers."
Born in 1916 in LaSalle, Ill., he was drafted in 1942 and volunteered for the 101st Airborne Division. He was assigned to Company E, 506th Regiment — Easy Company — which participated in the D-Day invasion of France and the follow-up Operation Market Garden. The 101st also helped defend Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Easy Company leader Dick Winters for the 1992 book "Band of Brothers," upon which the HBO miniseries that began airing in September 2001 was based. Winters, of Hershey, Pa., died earlier this month at age 92.
The miniseries followed Easy Company from its training in Georgia to the war's end in May 1945. Its producers included actor Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg.
Mauser was not among the soldiers portrayed in the miniseries.
'Don't call me a hero'
Zahn said he kept his service a secret, even from his relatives. After it became known, he reunited with some of his Army buddies and made a few public appearances. He preferred to stay out of the limelight.
"Don't call me a hero," Mauser told the Lincoln Journal Star in a 2009 interview. "I was just one of the boys. I did what I was told, and let's leave it at that."
Mauser had been fighting pancreatic cancer, Zahn said. Heafey Heafey Hoffman Dworak & Cutler funeral home in Omaha confirmed his death.
He is survived by a daughter, Laurie Fowler of Omaha. She did not immediately return a message left Saturday by The Associated Press.
Editors' note: The Associated Press incorrectly identified Dick Mauser as Ed Mauser in an earlier version of this story.