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Wild Bill Guarnere - if you can't be witty, then at least be bombastic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
kyle cassidy

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Wild Bill Guarnere [Aug. 7th, 2012|07:03 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |hisao shinagawa: wild west]

Our nephew Oakes was in town this past weekend and we spent a day with him doing fun stuff. One of which was going to dinner with Wild Bill Guarnere, thanks to our friends Ryan and Barbara who orchestrated the whole thing.

Bill is on the cover of my book War Paint and, in fact, he's the one who got me thinking about veterans tattoos. Bill, though he's a celebrity now, lived his life after the war in anonymity, nobody wanted to hear war stories, he'd been telling people that a shark bit his leg off in Atlantic City for years. Then Stephen Ambrose interviewed him and a bunch of the other 101st Airborne men from Easy Company and wrote Band of Brothers ... meeting Bill and hearing his stories made me realize that every bus I get on is filled with incredible stories from people who just haven't had them told. Most will never get them told, but they're there -- not just war veterans, but everybody. The stories are there for the asking.





"Was the Battle of the Bulge the first time you got wounded?" Oakes asked.
"No," Bill said, "I got shot in the leg before that, I got shot off my motorcycle by a sniper."
"Where'd you get the motorcycle?" I asked.
"I stole it from a guy who then became a pedestrian," Bill said.

After Bill got shot in the leg he found out that he was going to be sent to a different unit, not the one he'd been through D-Day with so he went AWOL from the hospital to rejoin his unit in the front, painting the cast on his leg to look like a boot. He reunited with Easy company just before the Battle of the Bulge and lost his leg in shelling several days later. He was sent home and it was a while before the AWOL charge caught up with him. Though he was out of the fight and back in Philadelphia, he was retroactively demoted to private and ended up owing the U.S. Government $5,000 in overpaid salary which they took back by cutting his disability check in half (it was $120 a month) until it was repaid.





(I cropped Ryan out of this since he didn't seem to want to be in the photo and Wild Bill's friend Trouble because she didn't know I was posting this)


You can read about Bill's tattoos in War Paint which you can get here.




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Comments:
[User Picture]From: katbcoll
2012-08-07 03:53 pm (UTC)
"Where'd you get the motorcycle?" I asked.
"I stole it from a guy who then became a pedestrian," Bill said.

Oh that part made me laugh out loud. He sounds like a blast!
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2012-08-07 04:41 pm (UTC)
I laughed really hard when he said it.
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[User Picture]From: greygirlbeast
2012-08-07 05:28 pm (UTC)

Can we just trade lives, please?
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2012-08-07 08:27 pm (UTC)
You'd have to give up Spooky....
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[User Picture]From: jeffreyab
2012-08-07 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks I had not realized that Wild Bill had gone AWOL to get back to Easy Company and been busted back to private and lost pension as a result.

After that performance no wonder they dumped on Webster for not getting back to the unit quicker.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2012-08-07 07:23 pm (UTC)
and he wasn't trying to get out of fighting either -- he went AWOL to go to the front! crazy.

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[User Picture]From: whiskeychick
2012-08-07 08:21 pm (UTC)
Love this photo. Wild Bill, indeed. He makes my heart sing.
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2012-08-08 12:01 am (UTC)

Off topic.

How do you put the 'click here to repost' button in?
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2012-08-08 02:12 am (UTC)

Re: Off topic.

[lj-repost button="You can click here to repost this in your own journal." /] with greater than less than symbols instead of brackets
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2012-08-08 02:29 am (UTC)

Re: Off topic.

Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2012-08-08 12:03 am (UTC)
Every time I read any of your stories with Wild Bill, he reminds me of Tony, the guy I knew back home who'd been a landing craft pilot at Normandy. You'd like Tony.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2012-08-08 02:11 am (UTC)
my great uncle paul piloted a higgens boat during d-day. he was never ok after that and I was always afraid of him. he also had a tattoo. i wish now i'd gotten to know him, but when you're ten, you don't think like that. at least i didn't.
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2012-08-08 02:28 am (UTC)
I was fortunate in that my dad talked to me about his WWII service. Of course, a lot of what he spoke of he really shouldn't have been sharing with a child, but I cherish the confidence he placed in me.

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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2012-08-08 12:26 am (UTC)
Very awesome. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: lawbabeak
2012-08-08 02:50 am (UTC)
Wait.... I'm calling Bill out on this one. I thought his wife hit the government with a Massive Documentation Bomb and got the AWOL thing straightened out. It's in his book. They took money for a while, but his wife conquered all and at least got him his rank back, if not also his money.

But I love, love, love his wave in the bottom picture. Such a good guy.
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[User Picture]From: petitbout
2012-08-09 12:03 pm (UTC)
I was thinking of Bill the other day. I have to admit that I still have not bought Warpaint - mea culpa. But I did cut out the Wild Bill photo from the City Paper when it came out and have it hanging in my cubicle.

By the way, where'd you eat?!
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