Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wild Bill

"When I went in, I was eighteen. I thought it was all glory and you win lots of medals. You think you’re going to be the guy. Then you find out the cost is very great. Especially when you don’t see the kids you were with when you went in. Living with it can be hell. It’s like the devil presides in you. I knew what I signed up for, yes, and I would do it again. But the reality of war—words can’t begin to describe it.” SSgt William J. "Wild Bill" Guarnere.

Noting the passing of Bill Guarnere, member of Easy Company 101st Airborne Division during WWII. Sergeant Guarnere was like many of his contemporaries - enlisted in his teens, volunteered for demanding and dangerous assignments. He was wounded twice, the most severe requiring amputation of his right leg. He returned home, to South Philadelphia, and made a life doing odd jobs. He finally received a VA disability and retired.

In his later years he worked extensively on behalf of other veterans. Combat vets - men and women who have been under fire - have a particularly hard-earned credential. They understand the sacrifices made in the service of freedom. For Bill Guarnere and the many like him, WWII never really ended. They carried the scars, be they physical, emotional or mental, for the rest of their lives. 

We read about their exploits and celebrate them. He, on the other hand, called himself "just a small part" of the war. "Sometimes it makes me cry" this tough paratrooper admitted. Now he is at peace, joining his friend Babe Heffron again.

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