PHILADELPHIA – 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 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.
“He had a good, long life,” his son said.
The HBO miniseries, based on the book by historian 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, including the D-Day Normandy invasion, through the war’s end in 1945.
Its producers included Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Guarnere was portrayed by actor Frank John Hughes.
Guarnere, whose combat exploits earned him his nickname, lost a leg while trying to help a wounded soldier 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.
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, Massachusetts, 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.