William Guarnere

William J. "Wild Bill" Guarnere (born April 28, 1922) is a veteran sergeant of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) attached to the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army during the Second World War. He was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Frank John Hughes.


Early life

William Guarnere was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of 10 children. When William was 15, the United States Government created the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) programs to help boys during the depression. The CCC was a civilian project to get kids off the street. Guarnere's mother told the Government that he was 17 while he was only 15, and he spent three summers in the CMTC, which took four years to complete. Upon completing his training he would be an officer in the U.S. Army. Unfortunately, after his third year the program was cancelled due to the pending war in Europe.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, and six months before graduation from high school, Guarnere left and worked for Baldwin Locomotive Works making tanks for the Army. In mid-1942, Guarnere enlisted in the paratroops.

During WWII

William Guarnere joined Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, to fight in World War II. He made his first combat jump on D-Day as part of the Allied invasion of France. He earned the nickname “Wild Bill” because of his reckless attitude towards the Germans. Another nickname for him was "Gonorrhoea" because of its similarity to his last name (this was used in the miniseries Band of Brothers). He displayed strong hatred for the Germans because one of his brothers had been killed fighting the German Army in the Italian campaign at Monte Cassino.

Guarnere lived up to his nickname of "Wild Bill." A terror on the battlefield, he fiercely attacked the Germans he came into combat with. Guarnere received the Silver Star for combat during the Brecourt Manor Assault on D-Day, as well as two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, making him one of only three Easy Company members (the others being Lieutenant Lynn "Buck" Compton and Major Richard Winters) to be awarded the Silver Star throughout the duration of the war while a member of Easy. While recovering from injuries, he absented himself from his hospital to rejoin Easy Company just before the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. He lost his leg in that battle while trying to help his wounded friend Joe Toye (who could not get up because he had also lost his leg). Due to this injury, Guarnere's participation in the war came to an end.

In his recent autobiography entitled Beyond Band of Brothers; Memoirs of Major Richard Winters, Richard Winters refers to two men in Easy Company as being "natural killers": Ronald Speirs and Bill Guarnere. When making those statements about both men, Winters says it in a way that reflects respect, not in a negative manner.

After the War

Guarnere 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, threw away the limb and retired. He became an active member of many veterans organizations, and presides over many Easy Company reunions.

Guarnere wrote Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Brothers Tell Their Story with Edward "Babe" Heffron and Robyn Post, outlining activities of Easy Company. The book was published by Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Books.1

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