William “Wild Bill” Guarnere, a veteran whose WWII career was chronicled in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers has died at the age of 90.
His son, William Guarnere Jr. said his father died at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and died of a ruptured aneurysm Saturday night, says the Associated Press.
Guarnere was known for his intensity and veracious disposition concerning the Germans. His brother was killed in Italy fighting German and Italian troops and Guarnere exerted a personal grudge against the Germans he encountered during his service.
He became a fan favorite in the HBO miniseries about the 101st Airborne’s Easy Company’s WWII campaign for his witty humor and ferocious spirit. He was played by actor Frank John Hughes in the series. The miniseries was based on Steven E. Ambrose’s book of the same name.
Guarnere wrote a memoir with fellow Easy Company veteran Edward “Babe” Heffron and journalist Robyn Post titled Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends: Two WWII Paratroopers from the Original Band of Brothers Tell Their Story.
After parachuting into France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Guarnere rose to the rank of sergeant and commanded a platoon in Easy Company. He fractured his tibia after being shot off a motorcycle by a German sniper in October 1944. He was sent to England to recover, but tried to get back to his company by disguising his cast and walking out of the hospital.
He was caught, but eventually found his way back to Easy Company just in time for the Battle of the Bulge in winter 1944. That’s where Guarnere lost one of his legs trying to save a close friend in the Battle of the Bulge, ending his career.
He earned the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He was instrumental in putting together reunions and frequently made appearances with the U.S. military and with veteran groups. Funeral arrangements are not set.