March 14, 1919|
|Died||September 3, 1995
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1941–1946|
|Unit||Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division|
|Awards|| Silver Star
Purple Heart (4)
Good Conduct Medal, and others
-Pete, Steven, Jonathan (sons)
|Other work||Coal miner, Foundry, Mill worker|
Staff Sergeant Joseph D. Toye (March 14, 1919 – September 3, 1995) was an American soldier with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Toye was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Kirk Acevedo. Toye's life story was featured in the 2010 book A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us.
Born in Hughestown, Luzerne County to Peter and Beatrice McTighue Toye, he was the son of a Pennsylvania coal miner. Toye dropped out of high school during his junior year. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the army on December 11, 1941 at Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. He completed basic training and was stationed in Washington, D.C. in early 1942. Eager for a bigger salary, he volunteered for the paratroopers and joined what would become Easy Company at Camp Toccoa.
Toye joined Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, to fight in World War II. He made his first combat jump on D-Day of Operation Overlord, as part of the Allied invasion of France. He was known as the "toughest of the tough" and was one of the most respected soldiers in the company.
Toye was wounded several times during the war, earning him the Purple Heart a total of four times, a sum that the book by Stephen E. Ambrose credits as being Easy's highest total. Like many Easy Company soldiers, Toye would often head right back to the line after being wounded, not wanting to leave his friends. He was wounded by artillery (which killed fellow soldier James Campbell right next to him) in the Netherlands during the failed Operation Market Garden, and in Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, from December 1944 to January 1945. He earned his three last Purple Hearts there.
Toye lost his right leg at Bastogne on January 3, 1945. One of his closest friends, fellow Pennsylvanian William "Wild Bill" Guarnere, also lost his right leg while trying to drag Toye to safety after he had been hit. This incident is portrayed in the miniseries Band of Brothers, episode "The Breaking Point". In the Band of Brothers bonus documentary, Guarnere quotes Toye as saying "Jesus Christ, what do I have to do to die?", as he had been already wounded numerous times. He was also nearly wounded a few times while taking the artillery battery on D-Day; a grenade landed between Toye's legs. It exploded, but he only bounced up and down from the concussion.
Toye spent about nine months in hospitals, and was finally discharged from the army hospital in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1946. He had been a coal miner, foundry, mill worker in his life prior to the war, but with one leg such work was no longer possible. He retired from Bethlehem Steel in Reading, Pennsylvania as a drill bit grinder at Grace Mines.
He was married twice; the first time on December 15, 1945 while recovering in Atlantic City. He had three sons, Pete, Steven, Jonathan, and one daughter, Anita, and seven grandchildren. Predeceased by a son, Toye died of cancer in 1995 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Major Richard Winters delivered his eulogy. Toye is buried in Gethsemane Cemetery in Laureldale, near Reading, Pennsylvania, alongside his wife.
- DeAngelis, Frank. "Toye's shadowbox". Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- Social Security Death Index record
- Reading Eagle obituary, December 1995
- WWII Army Enlistment Records: on-line NARA Archival Database
- Ambrose, p.295.
- Ambrose, p.200.
- Ambrose, p.295.
- Winters, p. 278
- Alexander, p.253.
- Reading Eagle Obituary, December 1995
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6411-6.
- Alexander, Larry (2005). Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers. NAL Caliber. ISBN 0-451-21510-9.
- Winters, Richard D., with Cole C. Kingseed (2006). Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-425-20813-3.
- Brotherton, Marcus (2010). A Company of Heroes: Personal Memories about the Real Band of Brothers and the Legacy They Left Us. Berkley Caliber. ISBN 978-0-425-23420-4.