Keller bill commemorating Band of Brothers veterans headed to Senate

HARRISBURG, June 28 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously passed a measure authored by state Rep. Bill Keller, D-Phila., that would designate a section of Columbus Boulevard after two World War II veterans portrayed in HBO’s miniseries Band of Brothers.

Keller’s H.B. 1279 would designate Columbus Boulevard between Oregon and Washington avenues in Philadelphia the William J. Guarnere and Edward “Babe” Heffron Memorial Boulevard. Both men served with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division.

“I had the honor of meeting both gentlemen, and can attest that they loved the city of Philadelphia just as much as they loved their country,” Keller said. “I can’t think of two men who are more deserving of this type of recognition. I am encouraged to know that future generations will come to realize just how important these men were, and how greatly they sacrificed so that we may all be free.”

Guarnere, or “Wild Bill,” was a staff sergeant and paratrooper who made his first combat jump on D-Day as part of the Allied invasion of France. Due to his bravery and additional service during the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart with two oak-leaf clusters, among other recognitions. Guarnere died last year at 90.

Heffron, known as “Babe,” was a private first class who participated in the Battle of the Bulge and helped to liberate the Kaufering concentration camp in Landsberg, Germany. He won the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among other awards. Heffron died in 2013 at 90.

Both men were portrayed in the 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers, produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. The critically acclaimed production chronicled Easy Company’s missions throughout World War II.

House Bill 1279 is headed to the state Senate for further consideration.