[Company of Heroes]How Band Of Brothers Changed Blithe’s Death (What Really Happened)
In Band of Brothers Albert Blithe is said to have never recovered from his wounds, dying in 1948. He actually lived for another two decades.
By Hannah Shaw-Williams
Published Jun 05, 2021
The third episode of HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, “Carentan,” focuses on the perspective of an Easy Company paratrooper called Albert Blithe. After?Blithe is shot in the neck towards the end of the episode, the ending text states that he never recovered from his wounds and died in 1948 – but that date is actually off by about two decades.
The mistake originates in Stephen A. Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers, upon which the series is based. Ambrose interviewed?veterans of Easy Company like Bill Guarnere and Edward “Babe” Heffron, and it was from their accounts that he put together the story of Albert Blithe. Some of Blithe’s story in “Carentan” is accurate; he really did experience an episode of hysterical blindness. “Never saw anything like it,” Winters recalled. “He was that scared that he blacked out. Spooky. This kid just completely could not see.” However, Blithe was actually shot in the?upper right shoulder, not?the neck, and he recovered from his wounds and received disability payment for only a year before waiving it?in order to return to the army.?Blithe remained in the military until his actual death in December 1967.
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Guarnere and Heffron?were both certain that they had attended Blithe’s funeral in 1948, which may have been either a mistake on their part or a mix-up with another Albert Blithe.?Blithe’s family didn’t realize the mistake until Band of Brothers aired on HBO, at which point his son, Gordon Blithe, began working to try and set the record straight. “I got some pretty nasty emails from people who couldn’t believe that Stephen Ambrose and HBO had actually made a mistake,” Gordon recalled in Marcus Brotherton’s book, A Company of Heroes.?After?a great deal of effort?and providing an extensive record of documents and photos that proved Blithe had indeed lived beyond 1948, “all the people who needed to be convinced were convinced.” However, the mistake was never corrected in the Band of Brothers book or miniseries.
Albert Blithe went on to serve in active combat in the Korean War,?and eventually died while serving with the 8th Infantry Division in West Germany. After attending an event in Bastogne, Belgium, commemorating Easy Company’s time spent holding the line during World War II, Blithe fell ill and was diagnosed with a perforated ulcer. He was given emergency surgery, but?following complications and kidney failure he died on December 17, 1967 at the age of 44. Gordon Blithe was in no doubt about the cause of his father’s early passing: “He drank himself to death.”
According to his son, Albert Blithe was a “chronic alcoholic” who drank every day. Gordon’s mother told him on several occasions,?”You just don’t know how badly the war messed up your dad’s mind.” Though Gordon was candid about his father’s problems and his struggles towards the end of the life, he?closed his interview in A Company of Heroes on a positive note.
”I want people to remember my father this way: he was a true American paratrooper who put his life on the line for this country and thousands of?other people in this world. He fought for people he didn’t even know. I’m proud of him, so proud. That’s how I want people to remember Albert Blithe.”
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About The Author
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Hannah has been with Screen Rant since 2013, covering news, features, movie premieres, Comic-Con and more! You can follow her on Twitter @HSW3K
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