'Blue Bloods' Star Donnie Wahlberg Delivers Tribute to Military to Mark World War II Series Anniversary

Long before Donnie Wahlberg was cast in Blue Bloods, the New Kids on the Block singer's best-known acting role was in the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. The 10-episode series told the story of "Easy Company," a U.S. Army regiment during World War II, with Wahlberg starring as Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton. Band of Brothers premiered 20 years ago on Sept. 9, 2001, so to mark the anniversary, Wahlberg paid tribute to the real-life soldiers he and his co-stars played on the small screen.

"[Band Of Brothers] is 20 years old today. To have had the honor of portraying, representing, and becoming a friend of, 1st Lt. C Carwood Lipton - and to help bring his story, and the story of the courageous men of Co E, 506th P.I.R., 101st Airborne Division, to the small screen - was one of the great honors of my lifetime," Wahlberg wrote on Instagram. "To all the men of 'Easy Company' and to their families - thank you! To all the brave men and women who served and serve today, and to their families, thank you as well." Wahlberg's Instagram gallery included photos from the show and pictures of himself with the real-life Lipton, who died just days after Band of Brothers finished airing in December 2001 a age 81.

Band of Brothers aired on HBO between September and December 2001 and was based on the book by Stephen E. Ambrose. It was created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who worked together on Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg and Hanks also executive produced the 2010 follow-up The Pacific. Hanks' Playtone is now developing another World War II miniseries, Masters of the Air, which will air on Apple TV+. Both Band of Brothers and The Pacific won Emmys for Outstanding Miniseries.

Band of Brothers' 20th anniversary came just days before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The show went off the air for two weeks after the attacks, and Hanks recently told Deadline he thought the show might be pulled from HBO's schedule indefinitely. He thought the show provided a "sobering tonic" at the time.

"America was again facing a long, unknowable struggle against an enemy that has been, unquestioningly, working for the dark side of humanity. The Nazis and the Japanese empire fought for dark reasons - of race, theology, of a domination of a status quo based on divisions by caste," Hanks told Deadline. "Where are we now, 20 years later? As Harry Truman said, 'It is easier to remove tyrants and destroy concentration camps than it is to kill the ideas which gave them birth and strength.'"

Both Band of Brothers and The Pacific are available to stream on HBO Max. Meanwhile, Wahlberg can be seen as Detective Danny Reagan on Blue Bloods, which returns for Season 12 on CBS Friday, Oct. 1 at 10 p.m. ET. Past episodes of Blue Bloods can be streamed on Paramount+.