Vincent Speranza, the legendary paratrooper who became a symbol of humanity in Belgium during World War II, has passed away at the age of 98.
According to Stars and Stripes, Speranza is best known for carrying beer in his helmet to give to wounded soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. Speranza leaves behind a legacy that has inspired countless people in both the United States and Belgium.
The U.S. Embassy in Brussels described Speranza as “a true inspiration to all of us and to many people across the United States and Belgium,” in a touching Facebook tribute after news of the WWII veteran’s passing.
Serving in the 101st Airborne Division during one of the most pivotal battles of World War II, Speranza was part of the force that successfully halted the last major German offensive on the Western Front.
The airborne corps paid homage to this remarkable man, declaring, “Rest in Peace, Vinny,” in a heartfelt Twitter post from the Fort Liberty, North Carolina-based unit.
Born and raised in New York City, Speranza journeyed to the battlefields of Europe to fight against the Nazis. He was instrumental in liberating concentration camps, earning both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his courage and commitment.
However, it was a small act of kindness that cemented Speranza’s legacy. During the Battle of the Bulge, a wounded friend asked Speranza for something to drink. In a remarkable display of camaraderie, Speranza found a working tap in a devastated tavern and filled his helmet with beer to quench the thirst of his injured comrades.
This simple gesture would become a celebrated tale in Belgium, eventually leading to the creation of Airborne Beer by a local brewery.
Speranza’s impact reached beyond the battlefield. After the war, he devoted his life to being a history teacher and father, maintaining a humble attitude despite his fame.
“After being a machine gunner at the Battle of the Bulge, winning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and (spending) two decades as a public school teacher, Airborne Beer is what I’m famous for,” Speranza once said.
In his later years, Speranza became a stalwart participant in veterans’ events, ever ready to share stories and experiences with younger generations. The U.S. Embassy in Brussels praised him as “always humble,” labeling him a “true force of nature.”
Even at the age of 98, Speranza’s vigor remained undiminished. In March, he took to the skies once more, skydiving as part of a ceremony commemorating WWII paratroopers.
Maj. Mathew Visser, spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, noted that the WWII veteran will be remembered for his “infectious sense of humor across numerous continents.”
“Once we receive information about his funeral arrangements, we will make those available, so paratroopers past and present can honor our dear friend,” he said.
This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.