Image copyright WILDBILLGUARNERE.COM
By John F. Morrison
Copyright Philadelphia Daily News
PHILADELPHIA — William Guarnere didn't have to go to war.
At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, he was building tanks at the old Baldwin Locomotive Works, a job considered crucial to the war effort and good for an exemption from military service.
But Bill didn't take it. He enlisted in the Army paratroops on Aug. 31, 1942, and the rest is legend.
"Wild Bill" Guarnere, the nickname he earned as a fearless combat soldier against the Germans, was a member of the legendary "Band of Brothers" — Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division — celebrated in books and an HBO miniseries in 2001.
Guarnere, the South Philadelphia kid who earned the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts among other decorations in World War II combat, who lost a leg at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in 1944 and returned home to live a productive life unimpaired by his injury, died Saturday. He was 90 and lived in South Philly.
"He didn't think he was handicapped," said a granddaughter, Deborah Rafferty. "He could run faster than me."