D-DAY BAND OF BROTHERS: James Warner, Robert Warner, Harry Warner & William Warner. By William Moyer Press & Sun-Bulletin Binghamton NY: James, Robert, Harry and William Warner were literally a military "band of brothers. " The four sons of Harry J. and Katherine Warner grew up at 93 Schubert St. on Binghamton's West Side. After graduation from high school, all the brothers enlisted in the armed services and served in World War II; three were involved in the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. Like so many World War II veterans, though, members of the local "band of brothers" have all gone to graveyards, every one.
U.S. Coast Guard veteran William Warner, who was the youngest and last surviving of the male siblings, died Feb. 18 2007 at his home in Dearborn, Mich., a family member said. He graduated from Binghamton Central High in 1943 and was a retired executive with the Ford Motor Co. William, 82, was one of two Warner brothers who settled elsewhere after World War II. Harry, also a Binghamton Central High graduate who died 11 months ago, moved to Dallas after he got married. James, the oldest brother, who died in 1991, and Robert came home to Binghamton after the war. At one time, James worked for Koehler Manufacturing Co., and Robert, who died in 1995, was a U.S. Postal Service employee. As each Warner brother died through the years -- added to the deaths of all World War II veterans who are buried at a rate of 1,500 a day -- the curtain continued to drop on an entire generation that changed culture and society after America's defining war.
The first time Sarasota Private Investigator Bill Warner watched the movie "Saving PrivateRyan," he understood why it was difficult for his father and uncles to talk about their war time experiences."When I saw the movie, I was stunned. I just never knew what it was all about or what they had to deal with or exactly how horrible it was," said Private Investigator Bill Warner, who lived in Binghamton NY before moving to Sarasota Fl in 1988. "I wish they would have talked about it. "The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, chronicled an Army rescue mission to find paratrooper Pvt. James Ryan and send him home after three of his brothers were killed in combat. Unlike the fictional Mrs. Ryan in the movie, Katherine Warner did not lose any sons in combat. Katherine, a house wife, kept four Blue stars in the front window of the family's Schubert Street home to wait for her sons' return. She and her husband, Harry, who worked for Endicott Johnson Shoe Corp., also had a daughter, Mary Ann Warner, who was a registered nurse. Harry died in the mid-1960s; Katherine lived in the Schubert Street house until the mid-1970s when she moved to a nursing home.
With two combat assaults under its belt, the 82nd Airborne Division was now ready for the most ambitious airborne operation of the war so far, as part of Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy. The 82nd Airborne Division conducted Operation Boston, part of the airborne assault phase of the Overlord plan. In preparation for the operation, the division was reorganized. Due to a need for integrating replacement troops, rest, and refitting following the fighting in Italy, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment was not assigned to the division for the invasion. Two new parachute infantry regiments, the 507th and the 508th, were attached to provide it, along with the 505th, a three-parachute infantry regiment punch.
On June 5, 1944 (just hours before midnight) and June 6, 1944, these paratroopers, parachute artillery elements, and the 319th and 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalions, boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders to begin the largest airborne assault in history.
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, All American (AA) dropped into Ste.-Mère-Église, a town of 1,500 astride a road network a few miles from the invasion sector called Utah Beach. Their mission was to block German troops from attacking the American infantrymen arriving at dawn in the vanguard of the D-Day invasion. By about 4:30 a.m., the paratroopers had seized the town, and Lt. Col. Edward Krause of the 505th Parachute Infantry raised an American flag outside the town hall. * Paratrooper Army Pvt. Robert Warner, who was in his early 20s at the time, landed in Normandy (Ste.- Mere- Eglise) with the 507th Parachute Infantry (82nd Airborne). He had enlisted in April 1942 after graduation from the former St. Patrick Academy High School in Binghamton. A newspaper story reported him as getting injured in combat, although his injuries were not life-threatening.
* Paratrooper Robert Warner of the 82nd Airborne Division, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) received the "American Service Medal", the "Distinguished Unit Badge", the "European African Middle Eastern Service Medal" and a "Purple Heart" on March 24th, 1945 at Rhineland "Operation Varsity" Jump. Paratrooper Robert Warner of the 82nd Airborne Division, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) made 3 combat parachute drops, Normandy "Operation Neptune", Netherlands "Operation Market Garden" Ardenes which led into the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardenes Forest and the final combat jump, Rhineland "Operation Varsity" at the Wars end on March 24th, 1945 when he was wounded in combat. Private Investigator Bill Warner remembered his father, Robert Warner, as a sports fan. "He was very sports-minded, a big Yankees fan, a big-time golfer," he said."When he was older, he was still shooting in the low 80s."
Paratrooper Robert Warner of the 82nd Airborne Division, 3rd Battalion Company G, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) appears to have been on the first wave of pathfinders at about 2:30 AM on June 6th, 1944 that dropped in or near St Mere Eglise France.
* During the invasion, Seaman William (Bill) Warner was stationed on a Coast Guard cutter in the English Channel. The cutter and crew helped rescue Allied troops during the critical days of the invasion, according to a newspaper story in August 1944. William was in his late teens at the time. After the war, he graduated from Binghamton University in 1951. He had attended Binghamton Central at the same time as science fiction writer Rod Serling.
* Like his brother Robert, Harry Warner was also in his early 20s at the time of Normandy. Harry was a petty officer aboard a Navy destroyer that guarded Allied vessels from Nazi U-boats. After the war, he returned to Binghamton and married Elizabeth Ann Brink in November 1956. The wedding drew a lot of newspaper attention -- even a pre-nuptial story about the attendants and the color scheme. The bride was the daughter of Broome County Judge Robert O. Brink. The couple moved to Dallas where Harry became an executive with the Equitable Life Insurance Co.
* Army Lt. James Warner was the first of the brothers to enlist. He began active duty on April 23, 1941, and served in England for 14 months with the Army Medical Corps. James, who was in his late 20s at the time of the D-Day invasion, probably arrived in the war zone after the initial assault. While he lived in the Binghamton area after the war, James once headed the Chamber of Commerce's Business-Industry-Education program that connected high school students with local business and corporate leaders for a real-world learning experience. "They are all gone now," Private Investigator Bill Warner said. "An era has ended". 82nd Airborne Paratrooper Robert Warner died in Sarasota Fl in 1995, he is buried in Sarasota Memorial Park on Rte 41.
Bill Warner Sarasota