Uncle Bill: Our family connection to D-Day

One of the veteran co-founders of Heritage Distilling has a direct family connection to the D-day invasion. Drew Kellerman’s uncle, Bill Paty, was a young officer with the 101st Airborne Division. As commander of “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, he parachuted into Normandy with his men that fateful, early morning of June 6th, 1944. The jump was ill-fated as he and his paratroopers were scattered all across the countryside. Wounded during heavy, close-quarters fighting and then captured by the Germans, Captain Paty endured being a prisoner of war, managed to escape (on his third attempt), and took refuge with friendly Poles.

He then survived a close brush with death from Russian soldiers who mistook him for a German officer. When he convinced them that he was American, “they finally smiled and broke out the potato vodka, and toasted Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill.” Eventually, Captain Paty found his way home via Leningrad, Odessa, and Egypt, reuniting with his family on Mother’s Day, 1945. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor. He passed away in 2018 at the age of 97.

As a special tribute to Uncle Bill and his D-day service with the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles”, we have bottled the whiskey at 101-proof. To him and his nearly 160,000 fellow American heroes who fought on D-Day, we offer a humble and heartfelt salute and gratitude for their service, courage, and sacrifice.