Joe Toye was born in Hughestown, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, on March 14, 1919, to Peter Toye, and Beatrice McTighue Toye.
In his junior year of high school, his father made him drop out so he could work at the coal mines.
Toye enlisted in the army on December 11, 1941, at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. After training, Toye decided he wanted a bigger salary and volunteered for the Paratroopers. He was stationed at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, and assigned to Easy Company in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne.
After training and completing the jump at Fort Benning, Toye and the rest of the 101st continued training, before moving out to England. On the sea voyage to England, Toye explained he was glad he was going to Europe, because if he could kill Hitler, "President Roosevelt would rename Thanksgiving Joe Toye Day, and pay him ten grand a year for the rest of his life".
On the eve of D-Day, following months of preparation for the invasion of Europe, Toye and the 101st parachuted into Normandy. He suffered a severe hand injury from his drop because the ropes around his parachute dug tight into his hand. After landing, Toye grouped with Sergeant William "Wild Bill" Guarnere, Private Robert "Popeye" Wynn, and Private Donald Malarkey. He and the group then met with 1st Lt. Richard Winters, PFC John D. Hall, Sgt. C. Carwood Lipton, and two 82nd Airborne Soldiers named Olsen and McDowell. He helped take out a German patrol wagon on their way to the town of Ste. Come-du-Monte. In the battle, Guarnere wounded a horse; Toye put it out of its misery with his Colt .45.
After reaching the town, Toye was selected by Winters to participate in the attack on Brecourt Manor. During the attack, they were in the trenches of the third gun, when a German Potato Masher landed right between his legs. Toye was able to flip over after hearing a warning from Winters and was only bounced around a bit. He was then bounced around by another grenade, which had been set off by accident by 1st Lt. Lynn Compton, and was dazed from the concussion while cursing in an annoyed tone about getting hit by a concussion twice.
He then helped take the second gun. After killing most of the German gun crew, Toye then approached a German POW, who was babbling in panic. Toye yelled at him to shut up, before slugging him in the face with his brass knuckles.
They then captured the rest of the guns, and Toye was awarded the Silver Star for his actions.
Toye then fought in Operation Market Garden. During the operation, Toye was wounded by an Artillery bombardment and was sent back to England.
He returned to the Company and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. During the battle, Toye had taken off his boots to massage his feet, when an Artillery bombardment destroyed his boots, causing his feet to freeze, and get a severe case of trench foot.
He was wounded again by bomb Shrapnel and sent to the town of Bastogne for treatment. However, he busted out and rejoined the Company.
On January 3, 1945, Joe Toye was caught out in the open during an artillery strike and knocked down by shell shrapnel entering his back. Another explosion blew off his right leg. Guarnere came to his aid and attempted to carry him to safety. Another shell landed and mangled Guarnere's leg. Toye was evacuated and sent to hospital for the 4th and final time.
Joe Toye spent nine months being treated in hospitals. He received a chest operation to remove the shrapnel in his back. He was eventually discharged from the army hospital at Atlantic City, Georgia. Then he recovered.
He married twice and had four children named Anita, Jonathan, Pete, and Steven, and also had seven grandchildren. He found work as a drill bit grinder at Grace Mines.
In 1995, Joseph Toye died of cancer in Reading, Pennsylvania. Major Richard Winters delivered his eulogy. He is buried in Gethsemane Cemetery in Laureldale, near Reading, PA alongside his wife.
- Guarnere calls him 'one Lucky bastard': Toye was almost wounded in two grenade blasts, was wounded at least twice in combat, had a case of trench foot, but still survived the war.