Bill C. Maynard, a World War II hero who landed in Normandy on D-Day as one of the Army paratroopers portrayed in the book and TV show "Band of Brothers," died Sept. 23 after a recent hospitalization, his family said. He was 89.
Mr. Maynard was a member of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, which fought in some of the bloodiest battles in Europe. The group's story is told in "Band of Brothers," a book by historian Stephen Ambrose that was made into a 2001 HBO miniseries by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
Mr. Maynard and other veterans are featured in the program and an accompanying documentary, "We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company."
In one interview, he recalled the fear among recruits preparing for their first parachute jump in training camp in Georgia.
"You didn't want to be afraid, because all these other guys were right there with you," he said. "You didn't want to be afraid, so you kept that out of your mind."
Born in 1921, Mr. Maynard was raised in Sacramento by his mother, Katherine, who managed the Fox Hotel near Fifth and I streets. He graduated from Christian Brothers High School and signed up to be an Army paratrooper during World War II.
Hours before the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, C-47s carrying him and other members of Easy Company left England for France. Flying over the beach to a drop zone behind enemy lines, the planes came under heavy fire from German anti-aircraft guns.
"The plane next to us caught fire," he told The Bee in 2004. "The doors were open, and you could see everything. Those poor guys were incinerated."
Mr. Maynard landed in a field with a serious leg injury. Unable to walk, he was tended by medics who left him alone under a hedgerow with a promise to return. He fended off enemy soldiers with a .45-caliber pistol for three days until medics could return to retrieve him.
The injury ended his fighting days, and he was hospitalized in England and the United States before his discharge in 1945. He received many honors for his service, including the Purple Heart and the French government's Legion of Honor.
Mr. Maynard returned home and spent more than 30 years as a Sacramento County building inspector. He married his wife, Rose, following a previous marriage that produced two children and ended in divorce. He was predeceased by his sonWilliam.
Mr. Maynard and other Easy Company veterans were flown to Normandy by Hanks and Spielberg and celebrated by the French at the "Band of Brothers" premiere.
"He was a humble person and private man," said his stepdaughter Stacey Simms. "He didn't want to profit from the 'Band of Brothers.' He just really liked spending time with his brothers."