BY MARIA MERLINO/ As the saying goes, “Real heroes don’t wear capes; they wear dogs”.
Dec. 16, 2013 marked the 69th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. This Dec. 21, at the Soldiers Memorial at 12th Street & Molleborre Terrance, a wreath was laid to remember the heroes from WWII who went off to war for our freedom.
Joe Ricci, a retired highway-patrol officer, was so moved by the passing of Edward “Babe” Heffron, a few weeks ago that he put together a memorial service to remember Babe and to also honor “Wild” Bill Guarnere, who lost his leg in the Battle of the Bulge from German 88mm artillery shrapnel.
Guarnere was attempting to pull from the snow his great friend, Joe Toye, who also lost his leg that very same day. Previous to his injury, Guarnere made a combat parachute jump into Normandy on D-Day and into Holland in Operation Market Garden. His brother Henry was killed in action in Italy in 1944. Bill never forgot how the German army killed his brother and earned the name “Wild Bill” due to his indefatigable fighting and killing of the German enemy.
Also remembered were Easy Company’s Ralph Spina, a medic, and Ralph Trappuzzano, also a medic. Trumpeter Kenny Taylor from the Philadelphia Clef Club played “Taps”.
“When I play at these memorial services, I always think about the veterans and the sacrifices they made,” he said. “This is my way of giving back.”
As the wreath was laid, Guarnere removed his cap and closed his eyes.
He said, “All the things we went through, the Screaming Eagles, Battle of the Bulge, the lives we lost, they are still on my mind.” and I miss my friend Babe.”