Sunday, March 9, 2014

"Band Of Brothers" Bill "Wild Bill" Guarnere Dies At 90; Twenty-Four Army Veterans To Receive The Medal of Honor

Bill "Wild Bill" Guarnere WWII Vet Dies At 90

It was in the Spring of 2009 when I had the pleasure of meeting Edward "Babe" Heffron (at right above with Bill Guarnere), of "Band Of Brothers" fame, at a small diner across the street from Independence Hall Park in Philadelphia. I would go to that diner every morning for breakfast. On one of those mornings, this small, stocky elderly man walks in, sits down and just starts talking to several patrons. He was obviously the center of attention. I knew I recognized him as my mind was searching for an answer. Frustrated, I turned to the waitress and asked her who he was. She replied with obvious pride, "That's 'Babe' Heffron one of the Band of Brothers."

Long story short. I got up and went over to introduce myself and thank him for his service. A breakfast that normally lasted 30 minutes morphed into almost an hour. To say"Babe" liked to talk would be an understatement. Nevertheless, I  literally hung on every captivating word he spoke. I left the diner that morning knowing I had just met a genuine American hero. Edward "Babe" Heffron left us last year. He was 90.

I bring this story to your attention because of passing this week of Bill "Wild Bill" Guarnere, another member of the "Band of Brothers." Guarnere also died at 90 years of age. 

Guarnere's commendations included the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He lost a leg during the Battle of the Bulge while trying to help another wounded soldier.

Guarnere, like Heffron, lived in South Philly. In 2007, he helped write the best-selling memoir called, "Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends," with Babe Heffron. Both men remained life-long friends.

Twenty-Four Army Vets To Be Awarded The Medal of Honor

On March 18, 2014, twenty-four Army veterans will be awarded the Medial of Honor. Most of the veterans to be honored are of Hispanic or Jewish heritage. All have already been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest military honor. Only three of the recipients are still living. 

Of the 24, seven fought in WWII, nine in Korea and eight in Vietnam. The three living are Vietnam Veterans.   The 24 include:

  • Spc. 4 Santiago J. Erevia, Vietnam
  • Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela, Vietnam
  • SSgt. Melvin Morris, Vietnam
Posthumous Recipients:
  • Sgt. Candelario Garcia, Vietnam
  • Spc. 4 Leonard Alverado, Vietnam
  • SSgt. Felix Conde-Falcon, Vietnam
  • Spc 4 Ardie Copas, Cambodia
  • Spc 4 Juesus Duran, Vietnam
  • Cpl. Joe Baldonado, Korea
  • Cpl. Victor Espinoza, Korea
  • Sgt. Eduardo Gomez, Korea
  • Pfc. Leonard M. Kravitz, Korea
  • Msgt. Juan Negron, Korea
  • Msgt. Mike Pena, Korea
  • Pvt. Demensio Rivera, Korea
  • Pvt. Miguel Vera, Korea
  • Sgt. Jack Weinstein, Korea
  • Pvt. Pedro Cano, WWII-Germany
  • Pvt. Joe Gandaara, WWII-France
  • Pfc. Salvador Lara, WWII-Italy
  • Sgt. William Leonard, WWII-France
  • SSgt. Manuel Mendoza, WII-Italy
  • Sgt. Alfred Nietzel, WII-Germany
  • 1st Lt. Don Schwab, WWII-France

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