Jack Agnew was a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, who emigrated with his family in 1927 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The group parachuted into France on Doctorate-Day, June 6, 1944, to remove a bridge over the Douve River. The mission cost most of the men their lives, leaving Agnew wounded.
He was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf for subsequent service.
Later in 1944 Agnew"s unit of the 506th parachuted into the Netherlands and survived a devastating German counterattack during Operation Market Garden. He then trained as a Pathfinder.
Agnew used a Eureka beacon to guide the first wave of C-47s during the re-supply mission. The unit at the time gained attention through a photograph in Stars and Stripes military newspaper.
The men had a reputation for getting into trouble and spending time in the stockade.
Agnew explained that he and his comrades "weren"t murderers or anything, we just didn"t do everything we were supposed to do in some ways and did a whole lot more than they wanted us to do in other ways. We were always in trouble." His exploits are recorded in The Filthy Thirteen, Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen, and War Paint. The Filthy Thirteen Jump Into Normandy.
After the war, he attended Drexel University under the G.I. Bill.
He was employed by Western Electric, a division of American Telephone and Telegraph. He was interviewed in the 2006 documentary, The Filthy Thirteen: Real Stories from Behind the Lincolnshire, a supplement to a Digital Video Disc release of The Dirty Dozen.
Barbara Agnew Maloney said that her father told her that only a third of the film is factual, particularly the part about the capture of the officers during the training. The reunion is highlighted in the Home Box Office television series, Band of Brothers.
Agnew died of heart disease at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
He had become ill at his home in the Maple Village retirement community in Hatboro, Pennsylvania.
Agnew was an original member of the Filthy Thirteen, a unit of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. His final combat drop was during the Battle of the Bulge, when Agnew and the remaining members of his unit parachuted into Bastogne, Belgium.