William J. ‘Wild Bill’ Boyle
William J. Boyle was born on August 29, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. It was to escape from a mediocre social condition that he applied for admission to the West Point Military Academy. He entered there on July 1, 1935 and came out on June 12, 1939. He then served in the 33rd Infantry Regiment in Panama for six months. His first company commander instilled in him the duty to take care of his men. In March 1940, he was evacuated because of an injury and was assigned to the 24th Infantry regiment of Fort Benning following his convalescence then to Fort Wheeler as Platoon Leader then company commander and in the intelligence section, Regimental S-2.
In 1942, he volunteered for the paratroopers and was assigned to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment where he made his five training jumps: "During my first jump I was in the middle of a stick of 8 men. I distinctly remember the 'go' command and I remember the opening of the parachute. What happened in the middle I don't remember. I remember hitting one knee on that jump and as a bonus, the second knee on the second jump. When the surgeon asked me to come on the second jump, I walked towards him without hobbling. There was no way he was sending me away. »
Then with the rank of Major, William Boyle became commander of the 1st Battalion, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment commanded by Lt. Col. Louis A. Walsh Jr. He has the opportunity to select his 800 men.
Lt. Col. Richard J. Seitz will say of him: “Boyle was a straight shooting, no frills guy. He was extremely intelligent but did not give this impression when you first met him. » Boyle believes in hard work, endurance and esprit de corps, more than boot shine and parade discipline: “I was not really spit & polish I did not feel very casual. I trained intensely and expected the same of officers and men. I had opinion about discipline but my exmphasis was on combat training, combat iliability & ability to rely on one another not spit shined boots. Truth and accuracy in one word were essential. »
William Boyle is a diehard who, taking care of his men, pushed them beyond their limits. One of these limits is to carry a .30 cal machine gun during speed marches by all its companies. One of his commanders confides to him that this is impossible, “I solved the problem by ordering him to take a machine gun in his formation for the speed march this afternoon. I got there with all my gear a minute before it started and took the machine gun. I travelled beside this company commander until the end. He walked faster than normal - 5 miles in 58 minutes. I carried the machine gun the entire distance. When he broke ranks with his company, I threw the machine gun at him saying, "Don't tell me anything is impossible again. »
Boyle will be wounded in Italy and during the Battle of the Bulge. He will leave the immense memory of being a hard, but fair and complacent leader.