‘Band of Brothers’ Vet ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere Dies at 90

Recipient of a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts

We’ve lost another American hero. World War II veteran William “Wild Bill” Guarnere died at 90 of a ruptured aneuryism early Saturday night in Philadelphia. Guarnere received a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts for his heroism in the Battle of the Bulge, and he was the inspiration of one of the characters in Tom Hanks’ and Steven Speilberg’s TV series Band of Brothers.

From AP:

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.

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.

The TV series, based on a book by Stephen Ambrose, drew in part from Guarnere’s storied military career, following the Easy Company (506th Regement, 101st Airborne Division) from training in 1942 to the end of the war in 1945. The character based on Guarnere was played by Frank John Hughes.

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.

His son, William Guarnere Jr., said of his father, “He had a good, long life.”

A good life indeed.