We are delighted to share this wonderful tour memory from guest Wayne Frye about meeting Easy Company veteran Bill Wingett while traveling on the Band of Brothers tour. As you will read, Wayne was honored to develop a friendship with Bill, who recently passed away. We would like to thank Wayne for taking the time to share this story with all of us.
Band of Brothers Tour Memory: My Friendship with Veteran Bill Wingett
My son Gilbert and I went on the Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours May 2007 Band of Brothers Tour, where Bill Wingett was along as the 506th PIR, Co. E veteran representative. Upon first meeting him in the Atlanta airport, where he was easy to spot, it was obvious his spirit was undiminished in the 60+ years since the end of the war.
Gilbert and I very much enjoyed Bill’s stories and little tidbits about various events and places we visited on the tour. As one example, we learned his story of how he was injured with his own knife when landing at Normandy; and in another, how he lost his Thompson submachine gun late one night while riding a bicycle back to the unit.
We also found it particularly interesting when he had a bit of a different take on certain events than the way they may have been presented in the book or mini series, such as their experiences with Captain Sobel.
Bill and his wife Peggy were living in Salem, Oregon, at this time, and I was on the Washington coast west of Portland, less than four hours away, so I could easily keep in contact with Bill over the years. He also shared with me some information on events he had recently participated in with present day U.S. Army Airborne units and members, and it was obvious that the Airborne was in his blood.
One of my pastimes is doing Civil War reenacting, and I attend several events through the year in western Oregon. On the July 4th weekend after the tour, we had an event outside of Salem, so I contacted Bill and invited him to visit. He and Peggy were able to come out, and I showed Bill around the camps and introduced him to other reenactors. Of course most of my fellow reenactors are also military history buffs, and were well acquainted with the Band of Brothers epic, so the entire visit was quite the experience. Interestingly, there were several other Easy Company veterans who ended up living in the Salem area, and a couple of my reenacting friends from the area were already acquainted with some of them.
Rest in Peace, my friend.
Ocean Park, Washington
22 October 2020