‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere, of Band of Brothers, Has Died at 90

‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere, most famous as one of the GIs portrayed in the mini-series ‘Band of Brothers’, has died at the age of 90. After being rushed to the hospital, Mr. Guarnere succumbed to a ruptured aneurysm on Saturday night.

His service during the Second World War was rarely spoken of. Though he lost his leg during the war, there was not much information passed on to his family about what went on in the field of battle. His son has been quoted as saying that many people outside of the family were more aware of what occurred during his time in the army than he did.

‘Wild Bill’ earned his nickname due to his extreme contempt for Axis soldiers. In close quarters with German troops his anger was implacable. On one mission, after being ordered to hold his fire against Nazis who had been sent to ambush his position, Guarnere is thought to have feigned ignorance of his orders and opened fire against the Germans. Most of the Germans died as a result of his actions.

His bravery earned him the rank of Second Platoon Sergeant, and he would go on to provide a model for conducting attacks against larger forces. With only eleven or twelve men Guarnere assaulted the enemy and came away victorious.

Although he was reckless on the field of battle, he didn’t lose his leg attacking the enemy, but rather while attempting to help a wounded soldier at the Battle of the Bulge. During an assault near Foy, another soldier Joe Toye had also lost his right leg, and Mr. Guarnere refused to leave him for dead, the Fox News reports.

His devotion to his unit did get him in a bit of trouble however. After sustaining injuries during a previous action, Mr. Guarnere insisted that he be allowed to rejoin Easy Company. When he was told he would be reassigned he attempted to paint his cast black and walk out of the hospital in order to rejoin the unit. Once caught he was court martialed and demoted to the rank of Private. He insisted that he would simply go AWOL once more in order to be with the unit he had given his service to.

He lived for 60 years after the war in South Philadelphia, and took jobs in construction in order to support his family. He played a large role in organizing Easy Company reunions, as well.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE