The northwest corner of 2nd and Reed St. in Pennsport will soon house a memorial to Edward ”Babe” Heffron, a local World War II veteran.
Heffron, a member of the legendary Easy Company along with longtime friend “Wild” Bill Guarnere, was depicted in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Fundraising efforts for a statue are about to officially kick off at an event held at The Irish Pub on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
According to Dan Stevenson, a Pennsport resident who is apart of the fundraising efforts, a section of the fence on the 2nd St. side of Herron Park will be moved back to incorporate the statue. The Inquirer reports that it will be crafted by Terry Jones, who is “one of the nation’s foremost historical sculptors”.
In his latest work, “Babe is a 20-year-old soldier in uniform and getting ready to ship out,” said Jones, who is working on the figure – standing 5-foot-7 – at his Newtown Square studio. “This could be his last time at home.
“He’s standing with one foot on South Philly steps with a wrought-iron railing, and he’s looking out at the viewer,” he said. “People will be able to walk up to him and put their arm around him.”
Stevenson mentioned they are “excited” about the statue, “It will take us back in time to see Babe standing on a marble stoop with his duffle bag, preparing to ship out or returning from war with his Army brethren.” He also wants people to always remember Heffron and the sacrifice he made for our country. “Mr. Heffron is a true American Hero, and we want people to see how proud this neighborhood is of him.”
Heffron, who grew up and raised a family in the Pennsport area, passed away in Dec. 2013 at the age of 90. Councilman Jim Kenney told NBC10 at the time of his passing:
“I’ve known him for a long time and he was a terrific person; certainly a hero,” Kenney said. “He was very wise and he kept all of his senses til the end. I mean his brain was as sharp and witty as a thirty year-old. He was one of the funniest, wittiest guys I’ve ever known.”
For an in-depth look at the longtime friendship between Babe Heffron and Bill Guarnere, two South Philly lifers, check out this amazing story from 2001 in Philadelphia Magazine. Here’s an incredible excerpt from that piece:
“It took me a long time to be able to tell this,” [Heffron] begins, then pauses. “October 6, 1944, in Holland. We were securing a defensive position on the dike, replacing B Company. They told us everything had been pretty quiet. Joe Toye hollers, ‘Hey, Heffron, bring your machine gun.’ I started over, and Jim Campbell, the assistant squad leader, says to me, ‘You stay here with the gun, Heffron. I’ll go with Toye.’ So I stayed. They made a turn in front of a house, and all of a sudden a shell blasted and hit Campbell. Killed him instantly.” Heffron stops. He can’t understand why at the last minute, the other guy said, “I’ll go.” He takes a deep breath. “He took that shell for me,” he says, leaning back in his chair. “He saved my life. I never, never forget it. I live it, I eat it, I dream it.”
What: Babe Heffron Memorial Kick-Off Fundraiser with drink and food specials, raffles, prizes and music
Where: The Irish Pub, 1123 Walnut St., Tickets are $50 – Call 215-520-6953 for details.
When: Nov. 11 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.