Johnny Martin remembered William Dukeman as a ‘young man who never grew old.’
William Dukeman Jr, was born in Strasberg, Colorado. The place was Living Springs Ranch and the date was September 3, 1921. He joined the family and had three brothers, Harry, Clem and Charles and a sister named Mildred. As a child he was nicknamed “Bud” to differentiate him from his father.
Buds schooling was in Strasberg until 1929 when the family made a move to Keenesburg, Colorado. He graduated in 1939 and along with Everett Gray and two friends they travelled to Albuquerque where they began work. After a short period, they realised they’d be better off joining the army. They volunteered for the Airborne Division.
Bud became great friends at camp Toccoa with John Martin, Albert Blithe and Frank Perconte. He trained under Captain Sobel. Dukeman dropped in with Easy Company on D-Day, but became separated from them. Struck by enemy fire, he sustained a wound in his chi. William Dukeman took part in the campaign at Carentan and the Battle at Bloody Gulch. He was part of Easy Company for Operation:Market Garden and Nuenen.
On the 5th October 1944, William Dukeman Jr was killed during a night patrol. While at a crossroads in Holland, a group of Germans who were hidden under a dike road in a culvert, fired their rifle grenade at him. The shot was fatal. The following day, Easy Company defeated two German SS Companies at that very site.
During his short time with 506E, he was given a Purple Heart, a Combat Infantryman Badge and of course, his US Army Parachute Badge.
He rests forever at Netherlands American Cemetery, Plot G, Row 2, Grave 11.
William Dukeman was played in the series by Mark Lawrence. Mark recently visited Williams grave while he was on a tour with other cast members and Band of Brothers fans. Seeing the footage of him standing by his grave inspired this poem.
I stood at the grave of a man I’d never met.
Yet, I feel I know him. His name I know. His rank too.
I know what he did and what he did it for.
He fought in a war from before I was born.
I fought that war too, in a different way.
I knew what he went through, how he might have felt. O
Emotions run high as I stand at that grave.
Wish I could have said “hello, how you doing?”
Wish I could said “thank you for your service”
Wish we could have sat in the pub, and told stories all night.
He’d have told me of his life. I’d tell him of mine.
How his story and mine, coincidences in life,
Brought me together, with my lady, my wife.
I can’t tell him those things.
He can’t share his life.
He died in that war, gave others their lives.
I have stood where he lay, I’ve waited so long.
Currahee, my friend Bill.
No more fighting, no more.
Your memory I’ll honour, the rest of my days.
Rest easy and sleep now.
Thanks for your service, your time is done.
Corporal Dukeman – Thank you for your service.
Mark Lawrence – Thank you for your portrayal of this gentleman.