Hello All- My name is Mark A. Bando, some of you have seen me as a talking head on the History Channel.
I started interviewing WW2 vets in the late 1960s and in the past almost 1/2 century, I have 1,035 interviews with WW2 101st Airborne veterans, over 300 with 2nd Armored veterans, and a couple hundred with veterans from other miscellaneous units and branches. As such, I started researching the 101st almost 3 decades before SPR and Band of Brothers started a tidal wave of interest in that unit. Sadly, about 95% of the veterans I've interviewed are now deceased.
I've written and published 6 books on the 101st and one on the 2d Armored. Unfortunately, most of those titles are currently out of print, but used copies can be found on Amazon.com or with misc. used book dealers, by searching my name as an author. In 2008 and 2010, I was an embedded journalist with the 21st Century 101st Airborne in Afghanistan and I'm almost finished writing a book about that. (I was with the same company both times- the new Easy Co. in the 2/506th IN). To expand my research I also made 15 parachute jumps between 2005-2008 with the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team, most of them at low altitude, from a C-47. I guess I will post my 2 cents on various pages here in the future, when I feel I have something to contribute, and I have a tremendous resource of stories, facts and photos from the 101st and 2nd AD and also a collection of WW2 militaria, which is largely acquired from the many veterans I've met and interviewed.
I'm also the culprit responsible for devising the Type numbering system for 101st Airborne eagle patch variations. So I will share some of my collection here and am available to answer or try to answer specific questions pertaining to 101st or 2nd Armored history. I can also converse on the deployment experience to the middle east, in the GWOT. My next 2 book projects which are already in progress, are a collector's guide to WW2 'Screaming Eagle Artifacts', using mainly artifacts from my collection, and a photo book on 'Hell on Wheels from Normandy to Berlin.' I acquired some very nice photos from 2nd AD vets in the 1990s, when I was conducting interviews for my 3rd book, and since many of them were taken by individuals with their own cameras, there will be a bunch that are not Signal Corps or previously-published images. Also have some good untold stories to go with them.
Btw, in 2012, I finished and published a reference guide to collecting Waffen SS insignia co-authored by the late Michael Beaver , so I have some resources and info on Third Reich collecting, as well. I hope I will be able to bring some info and photos of value to this community in the future. If anyone has questions in my area of knowledge, just ask and I will tell you what I can.
If you are wondering about my ethnicity, I'm a 3rd generation Japanese-American, was born in Detroit and have never been to Japan, nor do I speak the language. In don't read chicken scratch writing, so can't help anyone with translations on swords or battle flags. My parents were also born in the states and they met during WW2, as a result of being interned in a relocation camp for Nisei citizens at Topaz, Utah.
As to career, I was a patrol officer on the Detroit Police Department for 25 years, 1974-99.
One last thing, my only son, 32 year old Christopher A. Leinonen was one of the 49 victims murdered in the PULSE night club, massacre in June of 2016. My life since then has been difficult and one of my major means of coping has been to immerse myself in historical projects and activities. The attached photo of me and my son was taken in December, 2015.
Regards to all, Mark B.