Technician 4th Grade Irwin Wade was a supporting character in Saving Private Ryan. He was a medic and one of the Rangers from 2nd Battalion, Charlie Company, chosen by Captain Miller to retrieve Private Ryan, behind enemy lines.
Before the War
When Wade was a boy, he lived with his mother. His mother worked long hours being a secretary so he rarely saw her. He would try to stay awake at night as a child so they could tell each other about their days but could rarely keep himself awake.
One night, his mother managed to come home early, which he knew she did to find out about his day. He pretended to be asleep when she arrived, resulting in the two not talking that night. He later regretted it, failing to understand why he had done that.
His mother died sometime before he was sent to war.
World War Two
He was first seen on the beach at Dog Green sector trying to save a Ranger shot in the neck, and got extremely mad when the wounded man was shot in the head, killing him despite stopping the bleeding. He later assisted in healing wounded men on the beach with a Medical Officer, despite looking extremely distraught.
While Miller's men were in a church, Wade talked about his mother and her job and how he had pretended to be asleep when she had come home early. Recounting the event brung him to tears.
While at a rally point looking for Ryan, Wade assists in healing soldiers wounds, one being a very bad leg wound. Not long before he finishs, he sees his fellow squad mates, and gets extremely angry at his fellow soldiers, when they start looking through a bag of dog tags and insult the names of the 101st Airborne's dead while a company walk by watching in disgust. He makes them put the tags back in the bag, something that reminds Miller why they are there.
He later watches as Miller's hand shakes and shows a sign or worry, along with the other soldiers.
Death and Burial
The men later came across a small radio station with a machine gun emplacement with a squad of Germans not too far from them. He and the others attacked the squad using grenades. While trying to get closer, he was fatally wounded by a machine gun nest after Captain Miller orders them to neutralise it. He had been shot three times in the chest by an MG-42.
His friends tried to clear the blood and stem the bleeding but to no avail. Wade managed to evaluate his wounds and realised that there was no saving him. He requested his friends to overdose him on morphine, to which Miller agreed despite the others being hesitant. As he was dying, he started hallucinating and saw his mother, which possibly signified that he was heading towards the theoretical light one sees upon dying. As his friends comforted him, he died in their arms.
His death had a profound impact on his comrades who almost ended up killing each other after Miller refused to kill the soldier who had shot Wade. He was buried along with soldiers from the 82nd division near the station.
- Wade's death is considered to be one of the most visceral scenes of the movie, only surpassed by Captain Miller's death.