PHILADELPHIA — John "Jack" Agnew, one of the original members of a U.S. Army unit that operated behind enemy lines in World War II and is often credited with having loosely inspired the movie "The Dirty Dozen," has died at age 88.
Agnew belonged to the Filthy Thirteen, an unofficial unit within the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
He was pronounced dead Thursday at Abington Memorial Hospital after becoming ill at his home in the Maple Village retirement community in Hatboro, his daughter Barbara Agnew Maloney said.
On D-Day, the Filthy Thirteen parachuted into France to take a bridge over the Douve River. It was "a mission that would cost most of the men their lives," according to an article in the winter 2008-09 edition of American Valour Quarterly, a publication of the nonprofit American Veterans Center.
Tales of the unit's exploits and a Stars and Stripes military newspaper photograph are said to have inspired "The Dirty Dozen," not because any of the unit's members were convicts like the movie's characters — they weren't — but because of their reputation for brawling, drinking and spending time in the stockade.