William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere, one of the World War II veterans whose wartime exploits were dramatized in the award-winning TV mini-series Band of Brothers, has died aged 90.
Guarnere was rushed to University Hospital in Philadelphia and died of a ruptured aneurysm early Saturday evening, his son William Guarnere Jr confirmed.
Speaking to Fox News, Guarnere Jr said that his father rarely spoke about his time in service, despite the fact he lost a leg in combat.
“All we knew was he lost his leg, and that was it,” Guarnere Jr. told the broadcaster. “People knew more about (his service) than we did.”
Originally based on a book by Stephen Ambrose, the HBO miniseries followed the lives of the Easy Company 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from their training in Georgia in 1943, through some of the most brutal and bloody field battles in Europe. It ends as the war reaches its climax in 1945.
In the series, which was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, Guarnere was played by actor Frank John Hughes.
He lost his leg while leaping to the aid of a wounded soldier during the Battle of the Bulge. His bravery saw him honoured with the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
But, his son went on to claim, he remained much the same person, despite the small levels of fame the series awarded him.
“His life didn’t really change, other than the fact that he was signing books and posters,” he said.
After he returned from Europe, Guarnere went to live in a row house in South Philadelphia, where he worked in construction. There, he remained for the next 60 years.
He was one of the soldiers who co-wrote best-selling memoir Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends in 2007, alongside veteran Edward J. “Babe” Heffron and journalist Robyn Post.
Heffron, who he’d met during the war, died in December 2013.
“Now they're together again,” the son said.
Guarnere’s funeral is set to be held on Friday.Reuse content