Carwood Lipton was a U.S. Army paratrooper during World War II and played an instrumental role in the Battle of Bastogne, which is chronicled on film by Steven Spielberg’s movie “Band of Brothers.”
Carwood Lipton was a paratrooper in the US Army during World War II. He was shot down and captured by the Germans, but he managed to escape and live through the war. His story of survival is one of inspiration.
Carwood Lipton, an exceptional World War II paratrooper from the Band of Brothers, gives a perfect example of someone who kept things together during a season of high stress in history.
Sergeant Carwood Lipton glided through the dusk from foxhole to foxhole in Belgium’s Bois Jacques forests on a wintery evening, encouraging the men in his charge.
It was the 12th of January, 1945. Easy Company, 506 PIR, 101 Airborne was charged with holding the line in the most difficult scenario possible. Those who were still alive waited for the order to liberate the town of Foy the following day, with their ranks depleted. However, they’d already surpassed their limit.
They’d been bombarded by enemy artillery and machine gun fire for weeks. Sergeant Muck and Private Penkala had been killed two days before when a shell hit squarely on their foxhole. Sergeants Toye and Guarnere had each lost a leg in a fierce onslaught a week before. Those were simply the company’s most recent setbacks in its third major effort since D-Day.
Lipton crouched low in the first foxhole and spotted a soldier rubbing his foot in the snow, attempting to keep blood flowing so it wouldn’t freeze. Lipton ignited a flame and examined the color of the foot. Waxy yellow with a mottled appearance. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do for now.
When the company was last on reserve at Mourmelon, the man’s boots were sent out for repair. However, additional orders came before the boots were completed. Hitler was about to unleash the Battle of the Bulge, a major last-ditch effort. As a result, the troops of the 101st raced to Bastogne to help the defense. For the combat, the soldier had no option but to put burlap sacks over his feet. Lipton wiped the snow off the man’s shoulder and continued on his way.
Lipton arrived at the next foxhole just as two troops were spooning thin bean soup from their canteen cups. It was a chilly soup. At the bottom, maggots wriggled. On the line, food was usually in limited supply. Lipton chuckled and said that the extra protein will help them stay strong. They laughed, and he took the final wormy mouthful.
Lipton discovered three troops whispering about a new replacement commander in the neighboring foxhole. Despite his lack of frontline combat experience, Lieutenant Norman Dike had been assigned to command the company. Dike vanished once shelling began.
Lipton pushed the soldiers to put themselves in Dike’s place and understand how difficult the job was for the new lieutenant. Besides, they didn’t have an option but to follow Dike’s orders. Complaining isn’t going to help.
That was only one of many nights. Fortunately, Lipton survived the assault on Foy and the Battle of the Bulge, and he lived to be 81 years old when he died in 2001.
While researching on a book on the Band of Brothers in 2009, I spoke with numerous veterans who had served with Lipton. They said Lipton’s reliability and upbeat attitude kept hope alive. Mike Lipton, Lipton’s son, characterized his father as a fortress of stability and tranquility when I spoke with him. I looked through Lipton’s unpublished diaries from his wartime years, which simply verified what I had heard.
Although Lipton had faced many challenges as a leader, his life was distinguished by his capacity to remain happy and upbeat. His example may still encourage us now, since many people have been discouraged and bereaved in the previous year. It’s easy to act out, grumble, or fall to despair during any stressful and exhausting season. Those who maintain their stability — whether by nature or by choice — become a welcoming shelter for others.
These leaders, in the spirit of Carwood Lipton, go from foxhole to foxhole within their area of influence, continually encouraging others. They pay attention and assist in keeping people engaged. They encourage individuals to develop empathy and seek to make the world a better place. They refuse to join to the chorus of criticism by making their own. They concentrate on finding answers and assisting individuals in walking through difficult situations with dignity and strength.
The unflappability of Lipton didn’t go unnoticed.
Lipton was injured in the neck and face by a mortar shell during the cross-river battle at Haguenau at the end of WWII. He trekked to the aid station to have his wounds treated, then returned to his unit the next day. Captain Dick Winters (who would eventually become a major) promoted Lipton to second lieutenant on the battlefield.
Although he never appeared to grasp the magnificence of his own assets, this commission — and the persistence of character it acknowledged — came to characterize much of Lipton’s life. The HBO miniseries Band of Brothers has a sequence that echoes Lipton’s strong cool-headed humility in real life.
During the Battle of Foy, the skilled Lieutenant Ron Speirs was assigned to relieve the ineffective Lieutenant Dike of command and assume command of Easy’s new company. The miniseries depicts Lipton discussing the leadership shift with Speirs thereafter.
“These guys are pleased you’re our C.O.,” Lipton replied. “They’re relieved to have a capable leader once again.”
Speirs said, “From what I’ve heard, they’ve always had one.” “They’ve always been able to rely on one guy.” They were brought into the Bois Jacques by him. They were held together when the stuff was shelled out of them. Every day, he kept the men’s spirits up, focused them, and gave them direction – everything a good leader does.” “You don’t have any clue who I’m talking about, do you?” Spiers said, pausing to stare at Lipton.
“Sir, no.” With a shake of his head, Lipton expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation.
“Hell,” muttered Speirs. “You were the one who did it.”
“Hell,” muttered Speirs. “You were the one who did it.”
Shifty’s War, A Company of Heroes, We Who Are Alive & Remain, and Call of Duty with Lt. Buck Compton are Marcus Brotherton’s four novels about the Band of Brothers. Blaze of Light, his most recent book, is a biography of Medal of Honor winner Gary Beikirch.
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