It is with an extremely heavy heart that we learn this morning of the death of William “Wild Bill” Guarnere. 28 April 1923 – 8 March 2012.
Staff Sergeant Guarnere was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and enlisted in the US Army in his hometown on 31 August 1942. His enlistment was for the Paratroops, and he immediately began training at Camp Taccoa, Georgia. Guarnere was assigned to Easy Company, 2d Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He made his first combat jump on D-Day, and joined other members of his Company on the assault of four 105mm Howitzers at Brécourt Manor. For his actions that day, Bill received the Silver Star, 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 holding the line just up the hill south-west of Foy (Belgium) during the Battle of the Bulge, 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. The injury ended Guarnere’s participation in the war. At the time of his return to the ZI, Bill had been awarded the following medals and decorations for his actions with Easy Company:
Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster
Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster
Good Conduct Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three service stars and arrowhead device
World War II Victory Medal
Croix de guerre with palm
French Liberation Medal
Combat Infantry Badge
Parachutist Badge with two combat jump stars
Bill returned to the USA in March 1945 and took on many odd jobs. He wore an artificial right leg until he was able to secure full disability from the Army. He was an active member of many veterans’ organizations and presided over many Easy Company reunions. He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Rest in Peace, Staff Sergeant William “Wild Bill” Guarnere.
This page was printed from the Strictly GI website (www.strictly-gi.com) on 16th January 2019 at 16:45:30