Saturday, October 13, 2007

Band of Brothers Vets Have New Book Forthcoming

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William "Wild Bill" Guarnere and Edward "Babe" Heffron, two veterans of the U.S. Army's "Easy Company," have a new memoir forthcoming. The story of Easy Company was told in the HBO miniseries, "Band of Brothers (which was adapted from the Steven Ambrose book).

Here's the background on the Guarnere/Heffron book (via Blue Crab Boulevard):

After parachuting into Europe during World War II, battling along a strip of road called Hell's Highway in the Netherlands and surviving the freezing woods of Bastogne surrounded by German troops, William Guarnere and Edward Heffron do not consider themselves heroes.

Guarnere, 84, and Heffron, 84, are among the surviving members of the fabled Easy Company memorialized in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." To them, the real heroes are the men whose bodies stayed buried in that foreign soil and the mothers who sent their sons off to war, praying for a safe return.

It is so their sacrifices are not forgotten that Guarnere and Heffron have written "Brothers in Battle: Best of Friends," recently published by the Berkley Publishing Group.

"Sitting there in the plane, you wonder why you're up there," says Heffron. "You could be home, but then when you land there, and you go through these villages and you look at those people's faces … now you know why we're here."

Heffron sits in Guarnere's Philadelphia house, surrounded by pictures of soldiers the two served with and mementos emblazoned with the Screaming Eagle of the 101st Airborne Division, of which they were part.

The book, with a foreword by actor Tom Hanks, one of the miniseries' producers, tells the story of how the two young men from South Philly became paratroopers, fought in some of World War II's major battles and survived to form a lifelong friendship……

……Guarnere's voice has a raw, unvarnished "tell it like it was," quality while Heffron's is an often-introspective look at the war and life. But neither is sanitized or rosy-eyed. Both speak plainly about killing German troops, the looting that sometimes occurred and the drinking and partying that went on after the war and when they were on leave.

But they said it was important to give as an accurate picture as they could about what they experienced, saying that they were simply trying to do their job the best they could and protect their friends.

"Once you start lying and trying to change things, it's no good," Guarnere says. "You tell the truth, and that's it."

I wish Guarnere and Heffron success with their new book - it sounds like a great read!

I have "Band of Brothers" on DVD, and I always try to take time out to watch the episodes when they run on the History Channel. A new 10-part miniseries from Steven Spielberg, focusing on the war in the Pacific, is tentatively scheduled for a 2009 release.

"Saving Private Ryan" is my favorite movie, and I think Spielberg's film productions have been phenomenally important in keeping World War II history alive for younger generations of Americans.