One of the last of Easy Company stands down: World War II vet William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere, 90, dies after being immortalized in Band of Brothers
- William Guarnere was part of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
- He fought in some of the fiercest battles in World War II, from 1941 right until the war’s end in 1945
- He lost a leg trying to help a wounded soldier during the Battle of the Bulge
- Guarnere’s exploits featured prominently in Band of Brothers, the award-winning 2001 miniseries by HBO
- He died at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia on Saturday from a ruptured aneurysm
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
His son, William Guarnere Jr., confirmed on 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 later that night.
World War II veteran William “Wild Bill” Guarnere, seen here participating in the Veterans Day parade in Media, Pa. in 2004, has died at the age of 90
William Guarnere lost a leg while helping a wounded soldier during the Battle of the Bulge. This photo was reportedly taken as he left hospital at the time
‘He had a good, long life,’ his son said.
The HBO miniseries, based on a book by Stephen Ambrose, followed the members of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from training in Georgia in 1942 through some of the war’s fiercest European battles through the war’s end in 1945.
Its producers included Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
Guarnere, whose combat exploits earned him his nickname, lost a 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.
‘Wild Bill’ is seen here with the actor that played him in Band of Brothers, Frank John Hughes, at the premiere of the HBO series in Los Angeles in 2001
Frank John Hughes played William Guarnere in the TV series Band of Brothers on HBO
In 2007, Guarnere helped write a nationally best-selling memoir called, Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends, with fellow south Philadelphian veteran Edward J. ‘Babe’ Heffron and journalist Robyn Post.
Heffron died in December at the age of 90.
There are now believed to be three surviving members of the original Band of Brothers.
In 2009 it was recorded there were 20 members of Easy Company alive, however that figure has not been recently updated.
William Guarnere Jr. said his father and Heffron met during the war and remained friends until Heffron died in December.
‘Now they’re together again,’ the son said.
Jake Powers, who operates a Band of Brothers tour company in Grafton, Mass., said Guarnere worked behind the scenes to ensure that his comrades received the recognition they deserved.
‘He did more things behind the scenes for other veterans than (for) himself,’ Powers said.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete Sunday.
Real war heroes: Guarnere and the rest of his Band Of Brothers fought through some of World War II’s fiercest European battles
William Wild Bill Guarnere conducts an interview at his home in Philadelphia in September 2007
The ‘Easy Company’ landed several miles from where they planned to on June 6 1944, and had to trek in full gear to Utah Beach on Normandy’s coastline
They proceeded to knock out German soldiers and cannons at Brecourt Manor that were firing on allied forces.
Upon its release in 2001, Band of Brothers was the most expensive miniseries to ever be produced, costing $12.5 million per episode.
It was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards and won six but received numerous other accolades.
Immortalized: Guarnere was featured prominently in historian Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book, Band Of Brothers, upon which the HBO miniseries was based