RIP Wild Bill Guarnere
William "Wild Bill" Guarnere, one of the World War II veterans whose exploits were dramatized in the TV miniseries "Band of Brothers," has died. He was 90....
Guarnere, whose combat exploits earned him his nickname, lost his leg while trying to help a wounded solider during the Battle of the Bulge. His commendations included the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
Although he gained fame following the book and miniseries, Guarnere remained "the same person," his son said.
"His life didn’t really change, other than the fact that he was signing books and posters," he said.
When he returned from the war, Guarnere lived in the row house in South Philadelphia, where he would eventually reside for 60 years. He worked in construction, but was limited by his injury, and helped put together Easy Company reunions.
For those who know the TV show, but for whatever reason forget who Guarnere was, here's a highlight from the mini-series (language warning):
He was every bit as entertaining in real life too:
RIP sir. /Salute
Guarnere lived up to his "Wild Bill" nickname. A terror on the battlefield, he fiercely attacked the Germans when he came into contact with them. In the early hours of June 6, he joined Lieutenant Richard Winters and a few others trying to secure the small village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and the exit of causeway number 2 leading from the beach. As they headed south, they heard a German platoon coming to bring supplies and took up ambush positions. Winters told the men to wait for his order to fire, but Guarnere was eager to avenge his brother. Claiming he thought Winters might be hesitant to kill, he opened fire immediately, killing most of the unit.
Later, on the morning of June 6, he was also eager to join Richard Winters in assaulting a group of four 105 mm Howitzers at Brécourt Manor. Winters named Guarnere Second Platoon Sergeant as the 11 or 12 men attacked about 50. The attack was later used as an example of how a squad could attack a vastly larger force in a defensive position.
Guarnere was wounded in mid-October 1944, while Easy Company was securing the line on "The Island" on the south side of the Rhine. As the sergeant of Second Platoon, he had to go up and down the line to check on and encourage his men, who were spread out over a distance of about a mile. While driving a motorcycle that he had stolen from a Dutch farmer across an open field, he was shot in the right leg by a sniper. The impact knocked him off the motorcycle, fractured his right tibia, and lodged some shrapnel in his right buttock. He was sent back to England on October 17.
While recovering from injuries, he didn't want to be assigned to another unit, so he put black shoe polish all over his cast, put his pants leg over the cast, and walked out of the hospital in severe pain. He was caught by an officer, court-martialed, demoted to private, and returned to the hospital. He told them he would just go AWOL again to rejoin Easy Company. The hospital kept him a week longer and then sent him back to the Netherlands to be with his outfit