Steamboat Willie
German Steamboat.image
Rank Private (presumably) (German: Schuetze)
Affiliations Wehrmacht-Heer
Birth abt 1907 (based on actor's age, Joerg Stadler)
Death June 13, 1944, Ramelle, Normandy, France.
Weapon MG42, Kar-98k

"Steamboat Willie" was the alias given to a German soldier stationed at a small bunker guarding a radio station close to a French town and took part in the battle at Ramelle, during World War Two. He served as the main antagonist in the film, Saving Private Ryan.


Steamboat Willie was first stationed in Normandy, France with the German Wehrmacht. Normandy was eventually invaded by the Allies, and Steamboat Willie was stationed as a Machine Gunner. Shortly after D-day, he and his group ambushed and killed two U.S. 82nd Airborne paratroopers.

Not too long after that, he and his gun team were then attacked by a squad of 2nd Battalion soldiers. One of the men in Steamboat Willie's squad was able to fatally wound one of the attackers named Irwin Wade, a Medic, but the position was destroyed by a couple of grenades, killing the other soldiers, and stunning Steamboat Willie.

As he got up, he was beaten down by PFC. Reiben, PFC. Jackson, and Private Mellish. The Americans made their translator Corporal Upham ask the soldier whether or not he was the one who killed Wade. The group then threatened to shoot him, but the commanding officer - Captain Miller - prevented them, and ordered Willie to bury Wade and the dead paratroopers; then they could kill him.

It is during this time that Upham develops a kind of friendship with Willie, being the only one who can speak German in the squad and has yet to understand the true horrors of war. Upham is seen offering Willie a canteen while he digs (though it is snatched back by Jackson before Willie can drink) and shares his cigarettes with him. While smoking, Willie comments that the cigarettes are American made and that he "likes American" and names the Disney movie Steamboat Willie, making a tooting sound. This becomes his credited name.

While he was digging, the squad pulled him out of the grave he'd just finished. He thought he was going to be executed so grabbed a shovel and went back to digging frantically, discarding his cigarettes as he did and began quoting short American catchphrases and characters in English. He claimed that he liked Americans and started singing the American national anthem (but only the first line, "I say, can you see"). The squad appeared indifferent so he said "F**k Hitler", which still didn't convince them. Miller though, decided to spare him, blindfolding him and instructing him to march 1,000 paces north-west and turn himself in to Allied patrols. Whether he did indeed head north-west, disobey or truly hate Hitler and the Nazis is unknown, for he is caught first by the Wermacht and returned to the front line.

Ramelle and Death Edit

He was then seen in the Ramelle fighting alongside Waffen SS soldiers. There, he killed Private Wilson, and then mortally wounded Captain Miller as the latter crossed the bridge, he didn't appear to recognise him. T-5 Upham witnessed this, and when the bombers came in, Steamboat Willie tried to retreat with other German soldiers. Upham appeared out of a crater between the Germans and their escape route, shouting to put their weapons down. They obliged, and Willie recognized Upham, smiling and saying Upham's name. Upham pauses for a moment before executing him, revenge for killing Miller, finally understanding the horrors of war.


  • Some viewers commonly mistake 'Steamboat Willie' for the Waffen SS soldier, who stabbed Mellish as (when it zooms out) he looks almost exactly like the soldier.
    • Also, since Willie and this SS soldier wear the same clothes during the battle, they look similar from certain angles because of this.
    • Another thing to note is that the soldier doesn't take his helmet with him when he leaves the house after killing Mellish and since Steamboat Willie isn't wearing one when he runs up to start shooting with the rest of his squad, this further contributes to the fact that some fans mix them up.
    • Further difference can be seen when the SS soldier exited the house; he looked different than Steamboat Willie.
    • One can further tell the difference between Willie and the SS soldier by the fact that Willie is wearing a Wehrmacht uniform tunic under the camouflage cover gfaint "Prussian" type lines on his collar) while the SS soldier is wearing an SS tunic top identifiable by the SS emblems on his collars.
  • Willie is the man seen catching and returning a grenade back to the Americans during the defense of the bunker, and also since he only carries Rifle Ammunition Pouches (rather than a Machine Gunner's webbing featuring a Pistol and other pouches) he was certainly not the man who killed medic Irwin Wade. During the grenade fight he is seen wearing a Stahlhelm and a neck-toque of some kind.


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