If you were near a TV set in 2001, you would have witnessed the historic series, Band of Brothers.
Band of Brothers is not a story to be told. It is history to be respected. It is a group of men called the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. It is Easy Company.
Today, the veterans of Band of Brothers are no longer with us, but their families are ensuring their legacies live on. While researching about Band of Brothers, the name Debi Rafferty popped up on my screen, and she graciously agreed to give me some of her valuable time.
Can you tell me readers a little about yourself?
My name is Debi Raffery. I have been a labor room nurse for 30 years. I have 4 adult children and 2 new grandchildren. I am the eldest grandaughter of one of the members of Easy Company, from Band of Brothers.
What are your memories of your grandad from when you were growing up?
My grandad was a strong, handsome, South Philly Italian. He was a man that was incredibly proud of his roots. He absolutely adored my Grandmother and loved to take road trips with her. He loved the casinos, that’s something I remember.
Who is your Grandad?
William J. Guarnere. He was born in 1923 on April 28th and passed away on March 8th 2014. He was a United States Army soldier, who fought in World War 2 as a non-commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne.
Grandad was the baby of 10 in his family. When he joined the Citizens Military Training Camp during the Great Depression, Bill`s mother told the government her son was 17. He was 15!
When did you realise what he had been through during his time with Easy?
Debi said “I had no idea until the series came out. I watched the premiere in Hollywood but did not see the entire series until HBO aired it. I actually sat and watched it with my Grandad”
Did he ever share stories with any of the family? I have read, that he never shared how he lost his leg until it was shown.
Debi continued “Thats true, he never did! I didn’t know he lost his leg until I saw episode 7. I did hear more stories as he talked to other people”
I asked Debi how she felt when she first watched Band of Brothers.
“It was amazing” she said. “My grandad commentated the entire series as we watched it. He loved telling us about each character”.
From photos I have seen, and articles I have read, it is very clear how close you were. What did he mean to you and how are you protecting his legacy moving forward?
Debi explained “My Grandfather lived a modest life. He would donate to veterans causes as well as children causes. I thought that if we continued his legacy he would never be forgotten.”
Bill Guarnere legacy continues to live on through the work of his family. “Wild Bill” will never be forgotten.
HBOs landmark series continues to gather fans, even now 20 years later! There has been a recent series of podcasts and many zoom events have also been happening. Please see below for links.