PHILLY – Friends and family are mourning the death of a national hero. William “Wild Bill” Guarnere, a South Philly native and World War II vet who was portrayed on the television miniseries, “Band of Brothers,” died on Saturday at the age of 90. Guarnere’s son, William Guarnere Jr., confirmed Sunday that his father died at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Guarnere was rushed to the hospital early Saturday and died of a ruptured aneurysm early Saturday night.
MUST READ FULL OBITUARY HERE
The Greatest Generation lost one of its finest this weekend,
If you’ve seen Band Of Brothers then you have an idea of how crazy heroic Bill Guarnere was during the war. After reading his obituary and going through some stories (his Wikipedia page is also a must read), it seems as the show downplayed his courage and heroism. Just a renegade badass who represented what Philly and America is all about. Lost his brother and a leg fighting for the right cause. And you don’t mess with a man who not only kills Nazis with his bare hands but also has the iron balls to go by the nickname “Gonorrhea”. Man would put your heart on a plate before you even know what hit you.
Excerpts of Wild Bill’s Military Service via Wiki:
Guarnere joined Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He made his first combat jump on D-Day as part of the Allied invasion of France.
Guarnere earned the nickname “Wild Bill” because of his reckless attitude towards the Germans. He was also nicknamed “Gonorrhoea”, a play on the pronunciation of his last name, as seen in Band of Brothers. He displayed strong hatred for the Germans because one of his elder brothers, Henry, had been killed fighting the German Army in the Italian campaign at Monte Cassino.
Guarnere lived up to his nickname. A terror on the battlefield, he fiercely attacked the Germans he came into contact with. In the early morning hours of June 6, he joined up with Lieutenant Richard Winters and a few other men trying to reach their objective, to secure the small village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and the exit of causeway number 2 leading up from the beach. As the group headed south, they heard a German supply platoon coming and took up an ambush position. Winters told the men to wait for his command to fire, but Guarnere was eager to avenge his brother and, thinking Winters might be a Quaker and hesitant to kill, opened fire first, 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 105mm Howitzers at Brécourt Manor. Winters named Guarnere Second Platoon Sergeant as a group of about 11 or 12 men attacked a force of about 50. The attack led by Winters was later used as an example of how a small squad-sized group could attack a vastly larger force in a defensive position.
Guarnere was wounded in mid-October 1944 while Easy 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.
He arrived at Mourmelon-le-Grand, just outside Reims, where the 101st was on R and R (rest and recuperation), about December 10, just before the company was sent to the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, on December 16. Because the paperwork did not arrive from England about his court-martial and demotion, he was put back in his same position.
While holding the line just up the hill south west of Foy, a massive artillery barrage hit the men in their position. Guarnere lost his right leg in the incoming barrage while trying to help his wounded friend Joe Toye (who could not get up because he had also lost his right leg). This injury ended Guarnere’s participation in the war.
Guarnere received the Silver Star for combat during the Brecourt Manor Assault on D-Day, and was later decorated with two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, making him one of only two Easy Company members (the other being Lynn Compton) to be awarded the Silver Star throughout the duration of the war while a member of Easy.
They don’t make them like Bill anymore. RIP.