Vince Speranza is a very special man — one who long ago served in the 101st Airborne, a group of U.S. Army paratroopers who played a pivotal role liberating Europe from the Nazis during World War II.
But more than that, he is an inspiration to future generations of aspiring soldiers who hope that they could one day match his legendary record.
Speaking of which, it just so happens that he was present late last year for the graduation of the WWII Demonstration Team Foundation’s “Jump School” team.
As explained on the service’s website, the school allows aspiring jumpers to “familiarize themselves with military style round canopy static line jumping” for the purposes of performing “active parachute jumping in the style of the WWII airborne soldier utilizing an aircraft that actually participated in the invasion of Europe.”
The end goal is to “honor and serve the memory of the men who fought and died to preserve America’s freedom during WWII,” according to the foundation.
During his time with the graduating team, Speranza led a rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” especially re-worked for the parachute forces.
Listen to it here:
Back to Speranza’s record as a legendary war figure. During the Siege of Bastogne in December of 1944, when German forces tried to take the Belgian town of Bastogne from the Allies, he used a helmet to deliver beer to an injured friend.
“On the second day of the siege, a friend named Joe Willis was wounded with shrapnel in both legs and brought to a makeshift combat hospital in a blown-out church,” the Stars and Stripes military newspaper explained. “When Speranza tracked him down, the fellow paratrooper asked him to get him something to drink.”
Since they were surrounded by Germans and zero supplies were coming in, the entrepreneurial soldier set out to find some beer. He finally did, but it was a tavern in a devastated nearby town. Without any other options available to him, Speranza filled the helmet with beer “and made two trips to the wounded in the church,” according to Stars and Stripes.
And by doing so, he became a legend — one who was later immortalized on the on the label of Bastogne’s Airborne beer:
Americans in a war have to be creative, but Speranza is special by even those standards.
The man is a veteran, a hero, a great singer and a lover of quality beer. What a guy, right?
Salute to you, sir, and may your legendary participation in WWII be forever remembered.
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