When & Where: June 5, 6 & 7, 2015 at Overlord Omaha Beach Museum, the Utah Beach Museum and the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Normandy, France.
What: 2015 will be the second and final reunion of the actors in Normandy for the foreseeable future. The 2015 events will recognize the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe (VE Day).
Band of Brothers Actors Who Plan to Be in Normandy Next June:
Douglas Spain-Antonio Garcia
Scott Grimes-Don Malarkey
James Madio-Frank Perconte
Ross McCall-Joe Liebgott
Rick Gomez-George Luz
Bart Ruspoli-Ed Tipper
William Tapley-British Tank Commander
Frank John Hughes-“Wild” Bill Guarnere
Robin Laing-“Babe” Heffron
Peter Youngblood Hills-“Shifty” Powers
Eion Bailey-David Webster
George Calil-“Mo” Alley
Philip Barantini-Wayne “Skinny” Sisk
Stephen McCole-“Moose” Heyliger
Shane Taylor-”Doc” Roe
Mark Lawrence-William Dukeman
Make sure you get your tickets as early as you can as this, like last year, will be a sell out. You can get your tickets here: WWII Foundation
Frank John Hughes (born November 11, 1967) is an American film and television actor best known for his portrayal of “Wild Bill” Guarnere in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, Tom Fox in Catch Me If You Can, Tim Woods in 24, and Walden Belfiore in The Sopranos.
A native of the South Bronx, Hughes studied jazz composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. At the age of nineteen he became one of the youngest members ever to be given lifetime membership in The Actor’s Studio. He also studied with acting teacher Sonia Moore. After numerous stage productions Off-Broadway, Hughes made his feature film debut in Robert Celestino’s True Convictions (1991).
Since then he has starred in such films as: Bad Boys (1995) opposite Will Smith, Lonely in America (1991), The Funeral (1996) opposite Benicio del Toro and Christopher Walken, Layin’ Low (1996), Mr. Vincent (1997) (for which he won mass critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival for his role as John Vincent), Urban Jungle (1999), Robbers(2000), Anacardium (2001) (for which he won BEST ACTOR at the New York Independent Film Festival), and Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002). He also appeared in Robert Celestino’s Yonkers Joe opposite Chazz Palminteri and Christine Lahti and in Jon Avnet’s Righteous Kill opposite Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Guarnere was assigned to 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 enemy. He was also nicknamed “Gonorrhea”, a play on the his Italian last name, as was depicted in Band of Brothers. He displayed strong hatred for his enemy, since his elder brother, Henry Guarnere, had been killed fighting in the Italian campaign at Monte Cassino.
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 with withering blasts from his Thompson SMG, killing most of the unit.
Later, on the morning of June 6, he was also eager to join 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.
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 reinstated in his same position.
“Wild” Bill Guarnere & the actor who portrayed him – Frank John Hughes
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 Company. A third man, Gerald J. Loraine (27 March 1913—19 May 1976), received the Silver Star for his participation on D-Day, but he was a member of Service Company, 506th, not a member of Easy Company.
In his autobiography, Beyond Band of Brothers: Memoirs of Major Richard Winters, Richard Winters referred to Ronald Speirs and Guarnere as “natural killers”. In making those statements about both men, Winters expressed respect, not negativity
All proceeds raised benefit the non-profit World War II Foundation and its mission of preserving the stories of the WWII generation.
You can get your tickets here: WWII Foundation