Keller bill honoring Band of Brothers veterans headed to governor’s desk

HARRISBURG, Dec. 10 – A bill naming the section of Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia after a pair of World War II veterans portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers now awaits the governor’s signature.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously passed legislation on concurrence proposed by state Rep. Bill Keller, D-Phila., which would designate Columbus Boulevard between Oregon and Washington avenues in Philadelphia the William J. Guarnere and Edward “Babe” Heffron Memorial Boulevard.

“Both of these heroes loved their home city of Philadelphia, and left everything behind to valiantly defend our way of life,” Keller said. “It’s only fitting that we recognize these men in such a permanent way so that future generations come to know their stories and sacrifices.”

House Bill 1279 notes both men served with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division. Their stories were portrayed in the 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers, which was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and chronicled Easy Company’s missions during World War II.

Guarnere, known as “Wild Bill,” graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army the following year. He served as a staff sergeant and paratrooper who made his first combat jump on D-Day as part of the Allied invasion of France, and also fought during the Battle of Normandy, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. A highly decorated veteran, Guarnere was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters, among other honors.

Heffron attended Sacred Heart Catholic School and South Philadelphia High School before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942. A private first class, he fought in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge, and helped liberate the Kaufering concentration camp in Landsberg, Germany. Heffron was also awarded several honors, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.

Both men passed away at age 90: Heffron in 2013 and Guarnere in 2014.

The legislation was amended in the Senate to include language naming sections of other roadways after notable men, including: a portion of US Route 222 in Lancaster County the Sen. Noah W. Wenger Highway; the bridge on State Route 1029 over the Tunkhannock Creek in Wyoming County the Jody Allen Cron Memorial Bridge; Exit 113, State Ramp 8001, from Interstate 79 onto State Route 208 in Mercer County the Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin Veterans Ramp; and the bridge located on State Route 88 over Muddy Creek in Greene County the Army Spc. Richard W. Kowalewski Jr. Memorial Bridge.