Early Life

Becoming a Paratrooper


Normandy Preparations

Parachuting into Normandy

Combat in Normandy


Returning Home



Final Thoughts


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(interviewer) Okay, whenever you’re ready.
Could you start off, though, and introduce yourself?
(Edward Tipper) Yeah—
(interviewer) Go ahead.
(Edward) My name is Ed Tipper.
I’ve come a long ways in life, much farther than I expected.
I’m ninety-three years old now.
I was in the military group that’s got a
tremendous amount of recognition which I think
it deserves, but other people did the same
thing and did not get that recognition.
I’d like to get that established.
The Japanese, of course, bombed
Pearl Harbor December 7, 1944.
And I was about eighteen years
old at the time, maybe nineteen.
And like thousands of other young men, when
that happened, we immediately went down to
fight the Japanese and to volunteer.
And one of the most fortunate things for me
is that I volunteered for the Marines about
two weeks after the attack.
And they turned me down because my
teeth did not bite together perfectly.
And if I’d gotten in then, I probably never
would’ve survived because most of the 1st
group that got in did not get much training,
and they were in combat far too soon.
So I got pretty mad at the Marines for not taking me.
And they said, “Well, you come back in two
weeks, and the rules will be changed.”
I said, “You’re not going to see me.
You take me now or I’ll find somebody else.” And I did.
I found Airborne in the Army.
US Army Airborne was just getting started.
And I went down with two other men from the Detroit area.
And we went to Toccoa on the train about August 3, 1945.
At the time, the E Company 506th Parachute Infantry
was just getting activated.
And I was one of the ones that was with the group the week,
I think, they were activated.
So I was one of the originals.
And there are seven of us left now. This was December tenth.
(interviewer) Are you originally from the Detroit area?
(Edward) Well, yes.
I was—grew up in the Detroit area.
I grew up in a place called the blighted area.
Inside the boulevard was inner city.
It’s supposed to be a very rough place, never was.
It was just lower-class factory worker place.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as it—everybody thought it was.
That’s interesting I came from a pretty low beginning.
And I’ve done very well.
And people told me, “You go into paratroopers,
that’s the last thing I would ever go into.”
I said, “Oh, no, not me. That’s the first thing.”
And it was a great decision, never regretted it.
I met people I never would’ve met.
At any other time in my life, I would’ve
been probably a truck driver or just not had
a college education because in the military, I
came out, got a college education, had that opportunity.
And I taught school which is what I really wanted to do.
I was a school teacher for more than thirty years.
And I survived World War II.
And I survived thirty years of
teaching teenagers at schools.
So that’s a pretty good accomplishment, I think.
(interviewer) That’s interesting.
My grandfather is also from Detroit.
And if he was still alive, would be about your age.
(Edward) Did he grow up in a rough area?
(interviewer) I’m not sure which
section of Detroit he grew up in.
(Edward) There were not very many nice places or sections.
When we grew up, it was a factory town.
(interviewer) He worked in
a steel mill, I think, before he came down—
(Edward) Ford Forge had a steel mill there.
My father, he may have worked
with—my father worked for Ford.
And he was very proud of the fact
that he was just an ordinary guy.
He could do all that work that nobody else could do.
Most people had to drop out after a month or two.
He and one other guy stayed all the time and did it.
Probably cost him ten years of his life. But he did it.
And he was very proud of that.
(interviewer) That’s interesting.
Well, tell me a little bit about growing up in Detroit.
What was life like for you?
(Edward) Well, I didn’t think anything was unusual at all.
My mother and father were Irish immigrants.
And they were very strong Catholics.
And they sacrificed to send me to
a Catholic school—high school.
And I think that was a good decision on their part.
I think I got a good education there because I
went out—after I came back from the military—from
the war, I went to the University of Michigan
with no real preparation except that Catholic
school preparation which was really good.
The emphasis was on good behavior.
And I needed that at that time.
(interviewer) Were you an only child?
(Edward) No, I had a brother.
And I had my other brother that died
at probably five or six months.
I think that was in the great influenza
epidemic all over the world about 1919.
(interviewer) So he was older than you?
(Edward) Yeah. He was a couple years older.
But I lived in a very ordinary group.
We probably would be considered poor.
But we never thought of ourselves as poor.
My father always managed—even during the
Great Depression, he managed to put food on the table.
And he was always able to find some kind of work.
(interviewer) Do you recall where you were or what you were
doing when you heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor?
(Edward) Yes. A friend of mine—I played football in high school.
We were out at Ford Dearborn—a village.
I forget the name.
It used to have—it was like a museum.
A Ford Museum about early automobiles
and things like that.
That was a good place to go. We were out there on a bus.
And somebody flagged the bus down and said,
“The Americans have been attacked at Pearl Harbor.”
I didn’t know where Pearl Harbor was.
Nobody in the bus knew either.
A couple of women started crying.
And I knew that Pearl Harbor was a military Naval base.
And they had apparently some connection with it.
And they were crying. And they were very upset.
And my friend and I were joking.
And we didn’t know it was nothing to joke about it.
Oh, it’s nothing when in a couple of weeks,
we’ll be eating fish heads and rice.
That’s how mistaken our attitude was.
We thought the Japanese would be
defeated in a couple of weeks.
Nobody realized the damage.
They took out half our Naval forces at that attack.
(interviewer) What prompted you to try to enlist in the Marines?
(Edward) Well, my country had been attacked.
And like thousands of other young men my age,
I was going to fight the people that attacked my country.
And I don’t think I was wrong at all about that.
Times are a little different now maybe,
but I think the same reaction with teenagers today
if the country was attacked. I think they would defend it.
I’ve had a lot of contact with
teenagers in the last thirty years.
So I think I have a pretty good insight on that.
A lot of people write them off and say kids
are just so pampered and helicopter parents
take care of everything for them.
And that’s true to an extent but not true to everybody.
I think teenagers that I knew teaching were not—if
anything, they were much more knowledgeable
about world events than we were.
To me, World War was probably twelve or fourteen years off.
And I didn’t know anything about it.
I knew we won the war. It was all in the history books.
And that never interested me going into the history books.
Kids today have all this audio-visual stuff.
And they know everything.
I’ve made a lot of presentations to high
school kids in the years, last ten years even.
And they are very knowledgeable, much more so than we were.
And the important thing that I did not realize
at the time, I thought everybody had the freedom that we had.
This country. I didn’t know that most of the world did not.
They were almost slavery condition or slavery
by poverty or corrupt government or whatever.
And I had no idea what the world was really
like until I went in the Army and got to see
what France and everywhere was like.
(interviewer) You actually enlisted in the Army, correct?
You weren’t drafted, were you?
(Edward) Yes. All the paratroopers were enlisted.
Anybody that was in the paratroopers was never drafted.
They all were enlistees.
(interviewer) So why not join
the Navy or get into the Army Air Corp?
(Edward) Well, I had the same attitude that almost
every man that I’ve ever talked to in the
paratroopers that we all wanted to see if
we could make it with the very best.
And my idea was I didn’t mind getting killed so much.
I was willing to be killed.
I didn’t want some goof-off guy to get me killed.
Some moron would light up a cigar or something
in the middle of the night in combat and get everybody killed.
I wanted to go with men that were
first-class and I could trust my life to.
But if I had to be killed, I didn’t
want it to be an accident preventable.
And that was the way it worked out.
We had training in the Airborne that
no other unit had at that time.
We actually had a year and nine months
of intensive training of every kind.
Everything from riding horses to stealing
trains and operating steam engines, everything
you can think of, we had it.
And the training was so intense that they
got rid of everybody that was not serious.
In Toccoa, they took three guys for every one they kept.
And these were all young, athletic
guys to begin with, very motivated.
And so I was very proud to have made the cut
and to make friends with the people that also made the cut.
They were incredibly—people that I just
never would’ve met at another time in my life.
(interviewer) That’s incredible.
That’s an incredibly high washout rate.
(Edward) Yeah, when you think that the guys that started
were not just walking in off the street.
They were all very motivated.
Almost every single one was at least a high
school athlete; football and basketball. Very good.
And two out of three were cut.
And it was the attitude that got them cut.
The one thing I found out very
quickly: You could do anything.
You could even drop out. But you never quit.
If you dropped out of a run, you had to get—you
could drop out for a minute and show up, get
back up, you can come in half an hour late,
but as long as you made it and continued to
try, you were still in.
(interviewer) When you enlisted, did you go directly into
the paratroopers?
(Edward) Yes.
(interviewer) Or did you go through
basic training and then go in?
(Edward) We had experimental basic training
with the paratroopers.
We had twelve weeks of a mixture of
basic training and paratroop training.
We even had mock planes, were the
exact same as the fuselage of a DC-7.
And we had these mockups that we jump out
of, practice jumping into a sawdust pit.
But that gave us the proper technique for jumping.
You cannot make a mistake when you’re
jumping, at least in World War II.
If you had one of your hands in the wrong
position, you can have a terrible accident.
And we did it all.
We met our qualifying five jumps at Fort Bennet.
We did everything backwards and forwards.
We did everything by reflex action.
And we did everything correctly.
We didn’t lose any men at all.
I think we lost one—we did lose one.
He was a guy who had an epileptic seizure in the plane.
And he couldn’t jump and never heard from again.
But everybody else made the qualifying
jumps—five jumps and did them okay.
(interviewer) You mentioned guys that you ordinarily would
not or who you wouldn’t have met under ordinary conditions.
Were you any closer to any one or two of
the guys than you were to everybody else?
Or were y’all all just a really tight-knit group?
(Edward) No, I had a very close friend my age.
He’s from Philadelphia. His name was Bob Blosser.
Bob was killed in the first day of the invasion in Normandy.
And I’ve always been just shattered almost by
the fact that thinking about what he could’ve been.
He was a very talented guy.
But his life ended at age twenty, I
think, had no family, no career, nothing.
I always break up anytime I go to a military cemetery.
I just can’t hold myself together thinking
about the tremendous loss of men like Bob.
A lot of our guys were very ordinary but
later in life were extremely successful.
Carwood Lipton was a very good friend of mine.
Lipton became CEO of, I think Illinois’s—
Owens Illinois Glass Company in Europe.
He was in charge of everything in Europe.
He was in a tremendous position. Successful.
John Martin was in real estate in the Phoenix
area, multi-millionaire, did everything.
You never would’ve believed he could’ve done any of it.
These are very extraordinary achievements
by ordinary—pretty ordinary guys.
And I think with the training we got helped out.
It helped me, I know, in later life because
I learned very quickly that you’re capable
of doing far more than you think you
can do if you will make the effort.
And in the paratroops, you always
found out you had to make the effort.
And then you outperformed anything you believed possible.
When we went into France in that
invasion, I was not worried at all.
People said, “Weren’t you frightened?”
Well, I was kind of scared a little.
But I knew we had the best training
and people to go to fight a war.
And I got on that plane. I was not worried.
There was no way to improve our chances because we had training.
And that’s proved true in combat, too.
Things happened that we did automatically correct.
We made the correct decisions in combat.
And as a result of the training we had, what
would happened—when I landed, for example,
I was a bazooka man—and I landed.
And the first thing I did when I landed
was to check—there was a little battery.
And it didn’t go on, the bazooka was not operative.
The batteries were gone.
The opening shock was so severe, the
batteries went flying out of the bazooka.
So that bazooka was useless.
But a person without that training
probably wouldn’t have bothered to check.
And the first time you’d know anything was
wrong was you stand up to try to take a tank
with a bazooka that was non-functional.
And that wouldn’t’ve been very good.
(interviewer) Now with your training, I’ve heard a lot
of stories about Sobel, not with the benefit
of seventy years of looking back at it, but
at that time, what did you think of him?
(Edward) I knew Sobel very well because I was his runner
for about three months. I was close.
Well, it’s a complicated situation.
He’s not as bad as he’s pictured.
I always try to tell people about Sobel.
He did not have to be in the hazardous outfit,
but he joined voluntarily. And that’s to his credit.
But he was in over his head. He was a city boy.
And he did not function in the woods at all.
He just didn’t know what he was doing.
The other thing that was bad about him was
not his fault, but he simply made all the
wrong decisions in dealing with men.
I think he was afraid of his men because they
were all so much smarter and sharper physically than he was.
Now one thing Sobel could do physically was run.
I don’t know.
He was not an athlete.
But he could run forever.
I think—for example, everybody
could do fifty or sixty push-ups.
Sobel could barely do twenty, I think.
He just was not physically gifted at all.
I think that bothered him.
But he just made wrong mistakes.
I think what he did was he tried to use his power
over everybody to demonstrate that he was superior.
But he knew that he was way inferior
to almost all the men he commanded.
Those are all ideas that go back to World War II when I knew him.
He couldn’t read a map even. He had trouble.
He said, “Lieutenant, why don’t you come over here
and help me with it?”
And that’s pretty bad for a company commander.
He couldn’t read a compass, couldn’t—
had trouble reading a map.
The terrain contour was just a little too much for him.
(interviewer) Was Sobel West Pointer or no?
(Edward) No, he went to some military school
in Chicago area, I think.
There was one in Indiana probably.
So he had a commission as a captain when he enlisted.
And that says something about him.
He could’ve gone to a nice, easy, safe job and
been a captain probably much higher during the war.
And he didn’t. He took the hard road that we all did.
And I don’t think he gets enough credit for that.
But he would’ve also gotten us all killed.
Somebody would’ve killed him very quickly in combat.
I’m sure you know in the book, Band of Brothers,
that the whole company voted against going
to combat with him—and the sergeants.
This was mutiny punishable by death.
I don’t think the guys realize how
bad—what a serious thing they were doing.
But they all believed that Sobel would get us
all killed unless somebody killed him first.
In combat, he was just not that competent
at all in combat—to lead men in combat.
(interviewer) Did you ever have
any negative interaction with him?
(Edward) Well, yes. I was in company headquarters.
That was the group with the company
commander and executive officer.
And that was his plane that was shot down.
Everybody was lost in that plane.
I probably—if I’d stayed in company headquarters,
I probably would’ve been in that plane.
I knew I wasn’t going to stay.
I had a break—the reason Sobel had me in
company headquarters, I happened to be able to type.
And I was the only person in the company that could type.
So I was typing things for him.
I was also typing up passes for all my friends.
And that was fine for me. But I knew it wouldn’t last.
I figured he’d catch me sooner or later.
I was going with some girl.
She was going to school in North Carolina.
And we had a date about a month I advance.
I told him, “I’d like to go on this date that week.
So I’m going to be gone that week.”
He said, “That’s guaranteed. You’ll have it.”
When the time came, he says, “I can’t let you go.”
Well, I said, “But this is very important.
And you promised. You promised me.”
I sounded like a ten-year-old kid.
But I was so upset. He said, “No, you can’t go.”
So I went anyways.
And I came back, I knew I would no
longer be in company headquarters.
And Lipton wanted me.
I thought probably nobody would want me because
I was a better—but Lipton asked for me.
He knew I was out of company headquarters.
And Lipton had a group of about like I was.
We could do everything pretty well.
But we were also a little bit allergic
to following rules and discipline.
And that’s the kind of company—that was 4th platoon.
I think we outperformed everybody at all times
in E Company because of the guy of men we had.
John Martin, the guy that I told you about
that made millions of dollars in Phoenix.
John Martin was in that group.
And Lipton was in that group also.
He was a CEO of Illinois Owen and Glass probably earning
four or five million dollars a year. I don’t know.
Four or five hundred thousand anyway.
There were others that were successful in other ways.
I think I was successful because I was a very good teacher.
I had a hard time getting a teaching job.
Nobody wanted to hire me. I couldn’t understand why.
I thought I was twenty-eight years old
and had the war in my background.
I was much more mature, I thought, than most people.
But every superintendent that interviewed me
backed away because I could see that it’d
be much better for them to get somebody
twenty years old out of college.
They would not question anything.
They would be much easier to control.
They saw that I would be a potential troublemaker.
And they were right.
Turned out that I had very little to lose.
I was not accustomed taking any crap from anybody.
And I could talk for ten hours about all the
conflicts I had with administrators and principals.
And I had some very good ones, really not very much conflict,
but the ones that gave me trouble,
I gave them trouble right back.
And they were sorry to have me
around because I was not married.
I didn’t worry about losing my job.
Most teachers at that time
are just desperate to keep their job.
They were married.
All teachers had to work at something
other to bring in anything.
The pay was so low. That didn’t bother me a bit.
I liked what I was doing.
And I did it the way I thought it should be done.
And eventually I even got a John Hayes fellowship
which that was twenty of the outstanding
high school teachers in the United States got that.
I had a year at Berkeley on the fellowship.
So then nobody could say I was a bad teacher.
They could say well, one thing
I’m trying to think of the word.
There was a word that kept coming up all the time.
It was—I would never criticize them.
I had people that if you were for them ninety-eight
percent, then they considered you a troublemaker
because usually they wanted you a hundred percent.
You could imagine how somebody like me
would get along with that situation.
(interviewer) I’ve heard a lot of people say that with
the training y’all received, that Sobel would
not have been a good leader in combat,
but credit as good as y’all were—
(Edward) We were totally united in hatred against him.
But he made the company what it was in that sense.
The company would never have been as good without Sobel.
We excelled all the time because we were totally
against everything he did, and yet we had
a unity that nobody else had in our group, I think.
And if we’d had a regular, ordinary company
commander, we would not have had that.
(interviewer) That bond?
(Edward) There was a bond that formed very soon.
(interviewer) After y’all finished the training in the
US, what was the trip over to England like?
(Edward) Well, it was interesting because before we
got on the boat to go across, paratroops were
all told to take the insignia off their caps
and pull it off their boots, cross your legs
over the boots so the boots were hidden.
And we were presented to be regular troops.
We landed in England in Liverpool as ordinary infantry.
When we got to our barracks in Aldbourne,
England, little town, somebody said, “Well,
"Lord Haw-Haw is on the radio.
Come and listen to this” This was British
treasure broadcasting for the Germans.”
And Lord Haw-Haw said, “Welcome to 101st Airborne.
"We saw—we were watching you when you took
"your insignia off in New York, and we were
"watching you when you landed in Liverpool,
"and we will always be watching you.
"When you come, we will be ready for you.
"And oh, yes, the clock in Aldbourne
is ten seconds too late.”
We were dumbfounded. We weren’t afraid.
But we were just dumbfounded that the
Germans must have spies everywhere.
How could they know of us?
What happened—what was really
happening, we did not know at the time.
I found out after the war.
Every German that landed in England was captured
by the English because the English were in a German coat.
They got every single one.
And each one—they gave them a choice of
being executed or working with the allies.
And of course, they had a big network of Germans
sending back authentic messages of all kinds.
Nothing real important, but they thought
it had an effective spy organization. And they did.
But the English were running it.
And so everything, I guess, has an explanation.
At the time, we had no idea if—and nobody had any
idea if the Germans were totally incompetent
or they were—their espionage did not work at all.
The enigma code was supposed to be totally unbreakable.
But the English did break it.
(interviewer) Yeah, when you mentioned Lord Haw-Haw, I was
going to ask how that affected y’all hearing that.
It’s the same thing for the guys in the
Pacific hearing Tokyo Rose welcoming them.
(Edward) But this was so unexpected.
We thought we were landing as ordinary soldiers.
And we didn’t dream that somebody—but
that information was useless.
It was not critical at all.
But the Germans took that from their radio
operators as if it was good information.
They thought they had a good spy
network going and they did not.
It was completely compromised.
(interviewer) Well, tell me
a little bit about your time in England.
What did y’all do there? I know y’all—
(Edward) Well, I ran into a little problem with that
because when I was two and a half years old,
my parents decided to go back to Ireland.
And we all went back to Ireland for two to three years.
I lived in Ireland as a child.
I needed money, shillings, penny a pinch.
[inaudible]. Things like that.
I knew the attitude of people were
much more conservative in America.
And I got along fine.
I met some English people—I was walking down the road.
And this couple of kids come up and
said, “Can you come home with us?”
I said sure. I went home.
And they didn’t haven’t very much.
But they were very happy to share it with an American.
So inconsequently, I was able to do some favors
for them like bring them tea that was kind of surplus.
I made it surplus in the kitchen.
And they had tea which was rationed
and very important to the English.
I got tea for them all the time.
They would’ve still treated me well even
without that because I was in contact with
them for fifty or sixty years after the war.
We went back—my wife and I and daughter
went back and visited Aldbourne.
And we met some of them that were still alive.
And that was a lifelong friendship.
But so many Americans had trouble
with the accent and the money. I did not.
(interviewer) Did you have any
family still living in Ireland?
(Edward) Well, yes.
As a matter of a fact, I did. My mother’s family.
And I had a furlough scheduled at Christmas.
That would be 1943 I think.
No, 1943 for Christmas.
And I was—had bought a train
ticket to visit Northern Ireland.
But during the night when I was traveling,
General Eisenhower changed the policy.
And American troops were no longer allowed to visit Ireland.
So when I landed at the ferry boat,
they said, “You can’t go across.”
And I never did go back and visit them during—or
even after the war, I never went back for
many, many years.
(interviewer) Did you get any furloughs to go into London?
(Edward) I wasn’t too interested.
I was kind of a contrarian.
I’ve always been that.
I didn’t smoke, for example.
At that time, I could take a cigarette—we
got issued a carton of cigarettes a month,
I think, and I could trade that for
chocolate bars or other things. And I did.
And the fact that I didn’t smoke is probably
one of the reasons that I’ve lived this
long because I started smoking at age thirty.
I smoked for about fifteen years to forty-five. And I quit then.
I have not smoked since that time.
All the smokers are gone, long gone in our group.
The people that are left; Paul Rogers and I
and the other ones that are left are all
non—never did smoke or quit very long ago.
(interviewer) Thirty is kind of late to start smoking.
(Edward) Pardon me?
(interviewer) Thirty is kind of late to start smoking.
(Edward) Well, I was—started when I was taking my
master’s degree examination which is a two-day thing.
And after a couple of hours of that, we
got a break, and everybody would smoke.
I said, “Give me one of those.”
(laughs) But I never was a serious smoker.
I didn’t smoke three or four packs
a week or anything like that.
But I did smoke for fifteen years.
(interviewer) What were the preparations like when y’all
were preparing for Normandy?
(Edward) Well, the preparations were pretty strict.
Actually, I was on detached service
with a group in Southern England.
I wasn’t with the E Company at that moment.
I got back a couple of weeks before the invasion.
And everything was—security was very tight.
We had very little contact with
anybody outside of our group.
They take us to the airfield a couple of
days before the scheduled jump in Normandy.
And that was surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.
Nobody got in or out of that.
And we had all this intense briefing.
They had some table made up of targets.
And they had all this information—detailed
information French people had been giving them.
And then they said, “The German commandant
"is having a romance with this woman.
"They have a dog called Fifi.
"And they walk their dog at three in the
afternoon every Sunday at the square.”
They did not have information that we needed.
The hedgerows were a total surprise to us.
The French people didn’t think that was important.
They were sending what they thought
was behavior of German officers.
And it would’ve been a lot better if we’d
known something about the hedgerows. But we did not.
But we managed to deal with that anyway.
(interviewer) Yeah, like you said earlier, when you were
younger, you didn’t realize that all the
other countries in the world don’t have
the freedom that we have here because
what you see is what you’re used to.
And you just assume everybody else is like that.
(Edward) Yeah. I did.
I thought everybody—it’s amazing how
little I knew about the outside world.
Even when I went to Ireland, lived there two
and a half years, that was total paradise.
But it was not—particularly for a child.
But it was not typical at all for the rest of the world.
We were in a rural area.
And my mother would open the door and say, “Out with yas.”
And we’d go out and play with other children.
And anywhere we happen to be, we could
stop anywhere and say, “Oh, we’re hungry.
Can you give u something—a bit to eat?”
And the people would feed us and make a fuss over us.
And children were just—it was a paradise for children.
No dangers at all. No traffic, no pedophiles.
There may have been, but they knew better
than if they had wanted to do anything, you
couldn’t do it in a place where everybody knew everybody.
They would’ve been torn limb from
limb if they’d injured any children.
(interviewer) You said that prior to the Normandy invasion,
you were on detached duty.
Who were you with and what were you doing?
(Edward) We were down there in Winchester.
I was with a small group.
And we were preparing barracks or a camp for
the 82nd Airborne group that fought in North Africa.
And they were going to be in the invasion.
And we were preparing that camp for
them, just all housekeeping stuff.
And we’d had enough training.
We weren’t worried about losing
a couple of weeks of training.
It was a good deal to get away from the main
body, be down there—be on our own for a couple weeks.
(interviewer) When it’s time for the invasion, y’all
would’ve boarded aircraft on the
evening of the fourth, correct?
(Edward) Yeah, we didn’t get on the plane.
We got right—we were ready to board.
And they called it off at the last moment.
Nobody was on the plane.
I’m sure some planes had people on it.
But ours was not—we were surprised.
But we just took it in stride.
That was what we had to do.
They said, “Well, the weather’s too bad.
We’ll almost certainly—we’ll go tomorrow.”
And we did.
(interviewer) Well, we see
photographs of paratroopers getting
onto the aircraft.
And y’all look like you’re four times the
size you actually are because of all the things you’re carrying.
(Edward) All of the stuff that we carried was probably
at least a hundred pounds of equipment, probably more.
You could barely get up the steps to get on the plane.
You had to have somebody give you a shove.
A lot of that stuff was unnecessary.
But they had gas masks and gas impregnated—not
gas impregnated, but some kind of preventive
against gas.
And it impregnated our clothes.
And we had to carry that to put those on.
Somebody was yelling, “Gas attack!”
I don’t know how we could take
everything out and change clothes.
But somebody didn’t think about that.
Most people threw away the contents of
the gas mask and put candy bars inside.
(interviewer) Were you one of those people?
(Edward) Yeah, I think I threw the whole thing away.
(interviewer) Tell me about the night of the invasion.
Y’all go out to the airfield.
What’s going on before y’all get in the plane?
What’s going on after you get in the plane?
(Edward) Well, they gave us a last view
like a condemned prisoner gets.
I think we had a turkey Thanksgiving dinner.
We had ice cream which nobody had for a couple of years.
And—but we took all that in stride. We joked about it.
The main thing I just can’t stress too much, we
were so confident that we were the best-trained
people in the world that we could take on the Germans.
I don’t care what reputation they had,
we were going to be successful probably.
We expected high casualties.
But we were willing to take those.
We were totally confident we could not be better prepared.
Our training was so good.
That proved to be true, I think.
When we dropped, we were dropped total chaos.
The pilots flying our planes were not combat pilots.
They were all transferred pilots.
And when all the rockets and flares
started coming up, they panicked.
The story is that they got confused over fog.
I think they were confused the minute the shooting started.
Anyway, most pilots—the pilot I’m going
to talk about, the pilot of my plane—the
pilot on my plane was supposed to reduce
his speed to 110 miles an hour from 180. He didn’t.
To make the jump easier. He did not. He panicked.
He gave us the green light.
That plane was going as fast as it would go.
It was going so fast when I jumped, my backpack
was torn off my back by the impact of the opening shock.
I lost everything I had in my pack.
And that didn’t bother me.
Richard Winters, when he landed, all
he had was a knife in his boot.
Everything else was gone.
I had a rifle that was in three pieces.
I just got to the ground and got that put together quickly.
I had at least a rifle.
And I had a bazooka I threw away because I
found out quickly it was not working—in working shape.
No point in carrying it.
And I met—we had all these elaborate passwords
which the Germans would’ve had trouble with.
The Germans could not pronounce welcome very clearly.
And he’d pronounce it with a German accent.
And thunder and flash were the three passwords.
And what happened to me was we had these clickers.
I don’t think any of our guys used the clickers.
Very few of us needed to use the passwords.
We all knew each other. The minute I landed,
the guy that landed next to me close by hollered, “Tipper!”
He knew who I was. I looked at him.
I knew who he was.
We trained together for a year, well, almost two years.
So I very quickly—the two of us were looking
for other stragglers or—to form a group
large enough to do some damage.
And we did that.
We finally—we wind up with about seventeen or eighteen men.
There were no officers. That didn’t matter.
We could handle it. We had one charger.
We had no automatic weapon. That didn’t matter.
We could handle that. The Germans were much more upset
and disoriented than we were.
When we finally had enough men to attack
something, that was our training, our mission.
And we found a place to attack.
And we attacked it with eighteen
men and took it very quickly.
In fact, I think probably this whole
thing lasted four or five minutes.
And they were not ready.
The Germans were not ready at all for us.
In spite of the fact that planes were still
dropping paratroopers and gliders, there was
nobody in the trenches surrounding
this three buildings.
And then some of them went to about twenty.
And I don’t think we lost anybody at all. W
e had nobody killed.
We might have had one or two wounded.
And there were a couple of Germans wounded.
But once they got away, they started regrouping.
And the Germans were desperate to recapture this place.
When we took it, we thought it was a communications
center or some place very important.
Once we got in there, it was just
storage area, nothing at all important.
But it had to be—we realized it was important.
The Germans were attacking—¬counterattacking
at least once an hour all the time.
And we had guys up above on the second floor.
And we could see them coming. And they shot.
And there were eight or ten of them at six o’clock.
And we were ready. We had no trouble defending.
But they wanted it back very, very badly.
They were desperate to get it back.
I thought, there must be some gold buried in there.
It’s just an ordinary storage building.
Three buildings used for storage, junk.
Fifty years later, I found out what was so important
about it was it overlooked the crossroads.
The Germans had to have those crossroads.
We were half a mile or so from the beach.
And the Germans had to have those crossroads to
move supplies and things to their pillboxes.
And they couldn’t because we—even with
the small arms, we controlled it.
And we took that place and held it.
And more guys started coming in.
Started out, we had two E Company guys.
And this other small group did the same thing.
Right about the time we attacked,
they had seven E Company guys.
So nine E Company men were in there.
They’re all dead now.
And then there’s a guy they called “the Mad Major.”
I’ll think of his name in a minute.
And he was the first officer that showed up.
He was from the 1st battalion.
We were all 2nd battalion. We didn’t know him.
He came in and took charge.
First time an officer took charge.
And he was a wild man. And he did all the right things.
And he had his own group with him.
And by the time he got here and had it, we were
more than capable of defending that place.
So we held it all that day and all the
next—that night and the next day until noon.
And Utah Beach was held very much by the fact
that they had almost no anti-invasion fire going.
Unlike the other one.
Omaha Beach was a slaughter as everybody knows.
But we did our mission, accomplished it without
even knowing we were accomplishing it.
I didn’t know until fifty years
later how important that place was.
We just did what we were trained to do.
(interviewer) Do you recall when y’all were flying over
before y’all hit the coastline, could you see
the ships in the channel that were heading over?
(Edward) No, but whenever we took that place and captured
it, that installation—we climbed
up free buildings all two stories.
Up on the second story, you could look out
and see all the ships in the channel, just
an incredible sight, never forget it in my life, even now.
And yet I think we barely made that invasion.
Everybody thinks it was overwhelming.
No chance at a failure.
I think we probably could’ve landed on Utah Beach.
But there were so many casualties in Omaha,
I’m even surprised they were able eventually
to capture—to get a foothold in Omaha. They did.
And then what the ranger did at Pointe du Hoc,
going up that cliff, incredible, but they did it.
That was the kind of men they were.
That made the difference, I think.
(interviewer) Had you ever considered joining the rangers?
(Edward) I didn’t know about them.
I wanted to join the ski troops.
I heard about the ski troops, I don’t remember now.
(interviewer) So the 10th Mountain Division?
(Edward) 10th Mountain Division.
That sounded like something I would
like even better than what I was in.
But I made inquiries. And I was discouraged
from inquiring about a transfer.
They didn’t want to transfer anybody at that time.
(interviewer) How had you heard
about the Airborne to begin with?
(Edward) I think I saw a movie that Hollywood had some
movie that Airborne—I had the idea
you didn’t have to hike very far. You fly everywhere.
That was not true.
But I’ve never been sorry at all that I joined.
It was right for me, exactly what I needed.
(interviewer) A lot has been said about the flight over
Normandy that—were all of y’all given air
sickness pills to prevent air sickness?
(Edward) I don’t remember taking—we probably were
given them and told if you feel you need it,
you’re feeling queasy or something, take it.
I didn’t take it. I took it and just gave it somebody else.
I don’t remember if we smoked.
I don’t think we smoked.
I think in the series, Band of Brothers,
they showed a guy smoking.
But I don’t remember that.
But that’s not very important.
(interviewer) I know there were
a lot of guys who were really
drowsy from the medication.
(Edward) I think the guys that took
that pill probably were drowsy.
(interviewer) Do you remember when—well, I’m sure you
remember—when did your aircraft first
start taking anti-aircraft fire?
(Edward) I’m sorry?
(interviewer) When did your aircraft
start taking fire from the ground?
(Edward) We started taking fire.
I remember it was—we crossed between the Channel Islands.
Jersey and Guernsey, I think.
We crossed just past—I think they
had anti-aircraft on those islands.
Anti-aircrafts were coming up.
People have asked me, “Was it really
"as bad as the series, TV, HBO series?
Was that really—was that exaggerated?”
It was not exaggerated, exactly the way it was.
And we were expecting it.
But we didn’t think the plans should be
taking evasive action and going down low.
We were supposed to be—dropped less than about 450 feet.
And that’s going to be a problem.
And they dropped us much lower.
I’d say about 350.
I hit a tree which is normally a very bad thing.
When I jumped out, my backpack was ripped
off, I came—landed about a second later in a tree.
I went right through the tree.
And fortunately, that slowed me down.
I think I would’ve broken a lot of
bones if I hadn’t hit that tree.
I know normally it’s a disaster when you hit a tree.
In combat, it’s very bad to hit a tree.
Somebody would come by and shoot you.
But that all worked out accidentally.
I’ve been fortunate in a lot of ways.
I was fortunate in that way, too.
(interviewer) Was your plane hit?
(Edward) Oh, yeah. Every plane was hit.
You could hear the little pop.
I was hit with small arms fire and machine gun fire.
But we were not hit with anything big.
(interviewer) What was going through your mind when that
fire starts coming up at you?
(Edward) Well, how soon can we get out of this place?
I was mad.
I was quite willing to jump anywhere we were
over land and not wait for the exact target
that we had originally planned to jump.
We were supposed to jump at a little
town called Sainte-Marie-du-Mont.
And we never—I landed about eight
or nine miles away from that.
Everybody else was the same.
(interviewer) So y’all jumped—the first night y’all
captured the building at the crossroads.
You said y’all held that all day on the sixth?
(Edward) That’s right.
I was worried because we didn’t have any automatic weapons.
We had a BAR that was semi-automatic.
We didn’t have any tommy guns or machine guns.
And I think that the Germans who captured
that place, they thought we did.
They thought we were waiting until they close in.
And I think they hesitated a little more.
But they kept counterattacking trying to get in.
We stopped every counterattack they made.
We did all kinds of things that if they had
been well-trained, they would’ve been doing.
But they had not done—they didn’t defend that place well.
(interviewer) Was your baptism of fire
what you expected it would be?
(Edward) No, not—I didn’t think I’d be afraid.
You’re just terrified. Your mouth goes dry.
But you overcome the fear.
And you start doing all the things you’re supposed to do.
And I didn’t expect I’d be afraid.
I thought I’m too well-trained to be afraid.
I go in there and start—when I landed, I could barely talk.
My mouth is totally dry.
But that passes quickly when you’re in a combat situation.
You can’t stand around worrying about being afraid.
(interviewer) You just start reacting at that point.
(Edward) Yeah.
(interviewer) When did you first off, find out that the
company headquarters had been lost?
(Edward) Well, when the troops came in from Utah Beach,
they got to us a day and a half after the invasion.
And I don’t know. We knew we had to go—
we knew where we were.
We knew where we had to go—where Sainte-Marie-du-Mont was.
We knew our company headquarters would be
near Saint-Marie-du-Mont. And we started out in small groups.
We didn’t go together, everybody.
But we went in two or three groups.
And we were not that far.
We could’ve made it in three or four hours.
But it was all area in which nobody
really knew who controlled anything.
And there were even some cavalry troops from
another Polish or some—they weren’t German,
but they were connected German Army.
Some of our guys captured horses.
And they were riding those horses and having a good time.
But one other guy, a close friend of mine and I,
the two of us—we left at noon.
I think we got there—we found our company.
We were in our company by evening.
But we did some fighting along the way.
We even—we got to a town.
And there was a sniper up in the bell tower of the church.
And he was shooting at people. And everybody was afraid.
And they were American troops.
And they were all not doing anything.
So Smith and I said, “Let’s go get that sniper.”
We went in that church.
We heard the guy shoot while we were in the church.
We went up the stairs. And that’s kind of scary.
But we went up there, we got up
to the top, and the guy was gone.
Where he went to, I don’t know. How he escaped?
He had some way to get out, I guess.
Maybe he had a rope.
We didn’t see any ropes anywhere.
But that was a mystery that will never be solved.
A sniper who disappeared while we were
climbing the church steps up to the steeple.
And he disappeared somehow.
He had his escape all well-planned.
But anyway, we stopped the sniping.
So we didn’t—we had things happening on the way back.
I think—my recollection is we get back in the evening.
We’d find different groups.
We’d say, “You guys know where E Company headquarters?”
“Oh, yes, couple miles down this way.”
We found it. When we got there,
about half our company was there.
And we attacked Carentan a couple of days later.
And well, it was a week later, and we still
did not have—we were missing fifty or sixty
men out of the group.
We had about a hundred men.
And we normally—we jumped with a hundred—160 or 165.
And they all caught up eventually.
Paul Rogers and Earle Mcclain, two of our
very best men, did not get to the company for a week.
But they were in combat all that time.
(interviewer) Let me stop you right there for a second.
(Edward) These little small groups were holding different
little pieces of land and controlling them.
It was a very disorganized situation.
You could not really know who was owning.
You just had to assume that there were Germans every place.
(interviewer) Stop right there.
Now what was it that you said just now?
That there were three men?
(Edward) There were three men that did not get to the
company for more than a week.
They were fighting all that time.
And those three were very good men.
Paul Rogers, Earle Mcclain, and Jim Alley.
And when we attacked Carentan on the twelfth,
they had not caught up with the company.
The twelfth of June that was.
(interviewer) And the twelfth was the day that you were
wounded, correct?
(Edward) Yes.
(interviewer) What was going on
during the three days prior to that?
(Edward) Well, we were in patrols mostly.
And we did a lot of fighting.
And people were shooting at us and we were shooting at them.
But it was always, you didn’t know how successful—you
didn’t have an objective that you did or did not take.
You just went out on patrol looking for trouble.
And you found it very quickly.
We even had artillery attack on our camp.
I guess somebody found out where we were.
And we were in a camp and these artillery shots came in.
They were not too accurate.
If they’d been accurate, we’d been all killed.
But we moved camp very quickly.
The company headquarters moved because
they had us target on their map somehow.
But those big shells, eighty-eights coming
and hit the ground, you don’t stay there and wait.
You just get out.
(interviewer) How would you rate the quality of the German
soldiers y’all were coming up against?
(Edward) Well, they were all over the map.
Some of them were very, very good.
We fought the German paratroopers at Carentan.
And they were pretty good.
They were about like probably the elite troops.
But the ones that were attacking that place,
defending them, the German insulation that
we attacked and took, I’d say were below average.
But it’s kind of understandable because
they’d had a lot of false alarms.
And if they’d had ten or twelve false alarms
and reacted to them and jumped out of bed
at four in the morning and went
into defense and nothing happened.
They’d been having that go on.
Somebody planned all that I’m sure.
And whenever we made our attack, it was—there
were some people probably not very surprised
by the poor performance.
The German’s equipment was far better than ours.
But maybe it was too good.
Maybe it was better than they needed.
And I never saw any Tiger Tanks.
Tiger Tank was in a class by itself.
They didn’t have any in Normandy, I don’t think.
Maybe they did. But I never saw them.
But the Americans won that whole war by the
production possible by the United States.
I worked for an automobile company in Detroit.
It was switched over from an automobile
to an anti-aircraft overnight.
And everybody asked they were making
a bomber every hour, I think.
And maybe we had—we didn’t have any Tiger Tanks.
But we had the Shermans which were much smaller.
And if you had six or eight Shermans and
one Tiger, you know what you’re doing.
You can probably take out the Tiger.
You got to be very careful he
doesn’t take you out one by one.
But their weapons—the German machine gun was
better, fired about MG45, I think, fired
twice as many rounds as ours.
The Schmeisser machine pistol was very much
more of a weapon—better weapon than our old tommy gun.
Tommy gun was firing about 450 rounds a minute.
Schmeisser, I think, was probably
a thousand rounds a minute.
But that meant advantages and disadvantages
because you really didn’t need
to hit somebody six or eight times.
You just need to hit them once to be effective.
If you hit a guy once with a forty-five,
that’s going to take him out.
And if you have a machine pistol that shoots a
thousand rounds a minute, that means you’ve
got to have all kinds of ammunition.
You’ve got to have it carried with you and
you got to have it somewhere accessible.
And that’s a handicap, too.
But it works out in both ways.
(interviewer) I’ve talked to German veterans who were
machine gunners and who had been in the military
for several years before the MG42s were issued.
And they had originally used the MG34 which
was the older machine gun that fired much slower.
Well, then they get this new MG42.
And it fires so fast, it eats up all their ammunition.
They didn’t like it at first.
(Edward) Well, it can overheat quickly also.
(interviewer) But the ammunition supply was their biggest squawk.
(Edward) Well, there are a lot of generalizations that
were made about the Germans and their stereotypes.
A lot of them are true.
What I would say about the German soldiers,
they were very careful not to do anything
unless they were ordered.
And if a German tank was damaged,
they very often just abandoned it.
And it was fixable.
There was just took off and left.
And Americans would take off, but they’d
come back at night and fix it up.
They did not lose a tank.
I had an interesting thing happen in that place.
The third day, the morning of the second day,
a guy came up dressed in American uniform,
had his hands raised.
He said, “Don’t shoot.
I was lost. But I’m okay now.”
One of our men shot and killed him in a single shot.
We all said, “What the hell did you do that for?”
“Look at the boots.”
The guy was a German.
He was wearing German boots.
He never could’ve passed himself off American.
He would’ve been far better to come in barefooted.
His English was perfect.
Maybe a little too perfect.
And he was on a mission that I can’t understand
how anybody in his right mind would’ve tried.
There’s no way he could’ve succeeded.
The boots he had were spotted out
in the grass in the courtyard.
But the minute he went inside on those stone
floors, take one step with those boots,
his story was—it didn’t matter. They knew he was German.
(interviewer) You could hear those hobnails clicking.
(Edward) Yeah.
I think the guy was just given orders to do the mission.
“You speak English. You go down there and find out how many
"guys they got and what kind of weapon.
Find your way back.” “Yes, sir.”
I don’t think an American soldier
would’ve responded the same way.
I know he wouldn’t. I wouldn’t.
(interviewer) Did you have any encounters with the French
civilians while you were in Normandy?
(Edward) No, I didn’t. Well, yeah.
We met French people that gave us food and stuff.
But I don’t know really.
That was an area that had a lot more Germans
than anybody realized because it was a dairy country.
And there were a lot of people in Normandy
that sold dairy products to the Germans and did well.
But I’m not saying there was—there was not a majority.
The majority were very happy.
And I got to know some people.
Told stories of what happened during German occupation.
They hated the Germans.
But that was not true of anybody.
Of course, when you came in,
everybody was with the Resistance.
Everybody was welcoming Americans.
There were some I think were unhappy to see
Americas come in and spoil a good thing they
had going because we were having to tell.
Even then, it was impossible to tell.
(interviewer) I was fortunate enough this past Saturday
to interview a lady who’s a French
national who was with the Resistance.
And I believe she was in the French Army after the war.
But she had some good stories about what
it was like under the German occupation.
And she lost both of her brothers.
Her father was taken away.
(Edward) Well, I knew this woman pretty well who’s
family had had reluctantly contracted to
give stuff to the German Army—dairy stuff.
And they tried to withhold a bit of it.
And some of the German knew. And what they did,
they said, “We’ll let this go,” They took the mother,
put a gun to her head and acted like
they were going to execute her. And then they said,
“We’ll let her go.
But the next time you lie, you know what will happen.”
And there was no question they would kill her.
(interviewer) Well, the big event for you in Normandy, of
course, was Carentan How did that attack begin?
How did y’all get there?
(Edward) That’s again, a testimony,
I think, to our training.
I think where a regular Army infantry
never could’ve done what we did.
Somebody decided that Carentan—the best
place to take Carentan was from the south.
There’s a huge swamp to the south of Carentan.
And the Germans had just decided nobody could
go through that swamp, maybe one or two, but
not enough to make any—and they had their—their
south end was very-lightly defended.
And we spent the night.
About 200 men with full equipment ready
to fight went single file for miles.
I don’t know, probably thirty or forty miles
all the way around that area—around the swamp.
And then through the swamp, you had to be very careful.
But single file. One wrong step,
one guy would ruin the whole thing.
It never happened. We did it perfectly.
And we attacked the Germans in a place that
they didn’t think anyone could attack them from.
So we were very quick.
We took Carentan.
I was wounded before we took it.
But I was wounded in that action.
But we had three machine guns. They had one.
And we were moving them back.
We came to a crossroads—a three-way crossroads.
And I realized at the same time as a couple
of other people that if we kept advancing,
there were houses in backwoods.
Maybe there were Germans in those houses.
And they could start shooting us from the back.
So we said we better go clear those houses first.
Well, we didn’t have any grenades.
In the movies, they throw a grenade in the whole house.
But that didn’t matter.
We knew how to do it with or without a grenade.
And Joe Leibgott, and I went out to clear a house.
And the first house I got to, I went in, I kicked
the door in, went in, nobody was there.
The house was burning.
How it was burning, I don’t know
because it was almost all stone.
But the banister was wet, banister
with smoke coming out of it.
And I noticed there was no toilet, no bathroom.
I said what kind of people are these?
They don’t have a bathroom.
But that was a middle-class house.
So I went upstairs.
I went out in the back porch, had an outhouse,
I think, kind of thing.
And I hollered in German in there,
“Come out with your hands up!” nobody answered.
I just put a couple of shots in there. No reaction.
The backyard had a wall—a stone wall about five feet high.
And then nobody was there.
And I went back in the house and waited.
I yelled across to Leibgott, “This one’s clear!”
A big explosion happened. I thought it was a grenade.
I thought a German had missed and thrown a grenade.
Both legs were broken, my right eye was destroyed,
I had shrapnel in my elbow and back. I did not drop my weapon.
I turned around. I was ready to get this sniper,
what I thought was a German who threw a grenade.
He was coming and I was ready for him. Well, I was in shock.
That’s why I could still stand. But it’s amazing that
most people in a situation like that—
most regular Army guys' weapon would’ve gone flying.
All the time I was in that training,
your rifle is your best friend.
You cannot ever leave your rifle.
You hang onto it no matter what. And that training stuck.
I’m pretty sure Leibgott yelled across the street, he said,
“Tipper”—he said, “That’s a mortar shot. I’m coming.”
And he came running over. And by that time,
I was not able to stand.
And two or three guys risked their lives to rescue me.
But that was just the way we all worked. What did I expect?
I was not surprised that they would risk their lives.
That’s just the way you did things in that group.
And they had an aid station very close to that intersection.
There had some Germans they were treating.
And the doctor was a doctor I knew. Dr. Nevels [sp.].
An E Company officer.
And I got pretty good treatment then.
And they got a Jeep in from the beach.
The Jeep had a stretcher on either side and
another stretcher crosswise on the back.
And they put the three most seriously wounded.
And I was one.
And that Jeep driver took off through German
territory just gunning it and taking out guns.
The red flag didn’t mean anything.
The red cross—Germans shot at us.
But they were too far away.
I was thinking, my God, we thought
we were doing something dangerous.
This guy—his life expectancy is probably about two days.
And he’s not getting any extra pay or recognition.
To this day, I don’t have any idea—
he got us into beach hospital.
Then we were okay.
I got first-class medical attention.
But I should’ve died from that wound.
In fact, one of my friends is Sergeant Talbert.
And back in the States—maybe you’ve heard
this story because I told it a lot—back
in the States, I was in the hospital in Indianapolis.
I went up and had Thanksgiving dinner with his parents.
And they made a big fuss over me.
We had a great time.
His mother wrote to him: “Talbert”—whatever
his name was—well, anyway.
His mother wrote and said, “We had Ed Tipper come to visit us.
He's in the hospital”
He wrote back right away.
"You call the MPs and have that guy put in jail.
"He’s not Ed Tipper. Ed Tipper was killed.
"I saw him killed in Normandy.
"And that guys an imposter.
Get the MPs on that.”
But everything was in my favor.
I was twenty-one years old, I had all this
physical training, I was in the best shape of my entire life.
But I probably needed an Army.
I was in the hospital a year before they let me out.
(interviewer) There’s a very emotional scene in the series
where you come staggering out of the house
and Leibgott runs up—or the actor portraying
Leibgott runs up and puts his arm
around you and y’all sit down.
(Edward) That was pretty close to truth except for
the fact that they had me shoot a
bazooka into a doorway or something.
A bazooka was not—well, I was a bazooka man.
But I was really functioning as a rifleman at that time.
I had a bazooka on my shoulder.
But it was not—I did not use it at all.
I never got to fire the bazooka even once.
I’m glad about that.
It’s just as well.
(interviewer) In this series, they showed you really,
really banged up. Were your injuries that severe?
Were they not as severe? Were they worse?
(Edward) Oh, they were terribly severe.
I put my hand up, my whole head was
swollen like a watermelon, mushy.
I couldn’t believe it.
I knew my eye was probably gone. I couldn’t see.
But I could feel the eye.
I had a piece of shrapnel in my eyebrow.
The bone under the eyebrow got a notch on it.
But I lost my eye from a concussion because
what happened, I was—a mortar shell landed.
And that did all the damage to me.
Probably more damage than German grenade would’ve done.
(interviewer) Do you remember the event?
Do you remember everything?
(Edward) I remember everything.
Even now, yes.
I remember being in the hospital.
I was at beach hospital—and I’d heard somebody call Blosser.
And that was the name of my friend.
I didn’t know—I knew he was missing.
I got up and said, “Bob, Bob.”
They got to me and said, “No, that’s not true, buddy.”
Years later when I got back to the States,
I had somebody go to St. Louis and go back and check.
In the records, they found it was not him.
He never—he was killed the first day—
first or second day. I went back myself about 1947.
And I didn’t think I’d find anything.
But I went to registration group.
There were still digging up dead Americans.
I said, “Well, we got good news for you.
"we’ve got three bodies.
"We’re pretty sure one of them is your friend.
We’ll get him identified in a couple of weeks.”
And that was the identification.
That was two years after the end of the war.
(interviewer) Yeah, they’re still sending home bodies
from the Korean War which just took place
five years after the end of World War II.
They’re still sending bodies back of all
nationalities; American, South, North, Korean, Australian.
(Edward) They were still finding lost tanks—tanks
were going into a place that swamp and sinking.
Two, three years later, somebody would say well—
some farmer would say there’s some big thing
in the area, dig down a foot of dirt and find a tank. (laughs)
(interviewer) There’s stories all the time of farmers
plowing fields and coming up with
bombs—unexploded bombs and mortar shells.
You said Leibgott and two others got to you.
Who were the other two guys?
(Edward) Lieutenant Welsh and Leibgott.
I think there were just two.
And I could still hobble on one foot.
My right foot tibia was broken.
And the left foot, the fibula which was a smaller bone.
I could put weight on the broken right foot.
And they helped me to the aid station
under fire—under mortar fire.
That mortar fire was still coming in.
(interviewer) How long do you think you were at that beach
hospital before they—
(Edward) Well, I was there about three or four days.
And I think they got me pretty well stabilized.
And then they put me on a boat to
go back to a hospital in England.
And I was in that hospital maybe, oh, three or four months.
And they flew me back to the States after that.
Then I was in Crile General Hospital in Cleveland.
(interviewer) Which hospital? (Edward) Crile. C-r-i-l-e.
C-r-i-l-e. I was there two or three months.
When I was there, I had a strange thing happen.
Everybody was milling around one day,
and this major came out and said,
“Men, let me have your attention.”
He said, “How many men here have back pay coming?”
And everybody raised their hand.
He said, “You just get in line and follow me.
We’ll get your pay.”
And they did. They all followed him.
That guy was a psycho. He was psychotic.
He was crazy. And he went to the post office and starting
on, “These men haven’t been paid.”
And they put him back.
He broke loose out of a psychiatric ward. (laughs)
(interviewer) You said you were flown
from England to the States?
(Edward) Yes.
(interviewer) What was it like for you—even though you
were so seriously wounded,
what was it like for you to leave the guys
and go back to the States?
(Edward) That’s always been something that’s bothered me.
We had such a close bond.
A lot of the guys would be wounded.
And they’d be fairly badly wounded.
And they were put in the hospital.
And then they would skip out as soon as they
could to go back and join the group even to go to Bastogne.
And I never had to make that decision.
I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t
know what I would’ve done.
But I’ve always felt a little bit guilty.
I thought I did everything that
I should’ve done for seven days.
Total of seven days. That’s a pretty short work
compared to what the rest of them did.
But nobody’s ever said anything.
Everybody that I know has always said,
“Well, we all took the same chances.
"You just happened to come out with a different result.
And you’re here.”
The first guy that got to me on that jump was Millet.
Millet was killed later by a sniper in Bastogne.
And he probably was very thankful that he was
not badly wounded like I was, but it was,
in the end, much better result for me to be alive.
I’ve always felt a little bit guilty.
But I don’t know.
I never—I just put it out of my mind, I
think, the last thirty or forty years.
It’s not something to dwell on too much.
If I could’ve gotten back—if I’d been hit
in the arm or something and was wounded—if
I’d gotten back, I would’ve been—probably
gone back to my group no matter what.
The bond is so strong.
That bond has lasted all the rest of our lives.
I’m still in touch with all the ones that survived.
Paul Rogers is a year older than I am.
I called Paul yesterday.
(interviewer) After you were in Crile—where was that?
Where’s Crile? In Chicago?
(Edward) That was in Cleveland.
(interviewer) And where did you go from there?
(Edward) To Indianapolis.
And I even remember the name of the hospital.
It was Atterbury General Hospital in Indianapolis.
Outside of Indianapolis.
(interviewer) Was that the base hospital at Camp Atterbury?
(Edward) Yeah, I think they probably
have a permanent base even now.
(interviewer) And is that where you stayed for
the rest of the time that you were—
(Edward) Yeah.
(interviewer) And how long were you in the hospital?
(Edward) I was in different hospitals for
a total of one year.
(interviewer) So you would’ve been out of the hospital
between the time that the Germans
surrendered then the Japanese surrendered.
Do you recall hearing about those events?
(Edward) Well, they were going to
send me to fight the Japanese.
They had me scheduled to do that.
I didn’t want to do that.
I wanted to get out and go to college
because I knew I could do that.
My parents were not influential or anything.
They couldn’t call somebody and get me out.
But I made the case myself.
I don’t want to go to fight the Japanese.
I’ve done my—I don’t think I should be asked.
And I raised enough hell, they let me out.
(laughs) Actually, I could’ve been
discharged after nine months, I think.
I was functioning well and mobile.
But I was still—the wounds had not closed.
I was still draining.
They didn’t want to let me go until
everything was completely done.
And there were going to put me on the boat for Japan.
And they heard a very different opinion from me.
(interviewer) And when were you discharged?
(Edward) If my group had been sent to Japan, I would’ve
gone with them without a thought but not with strangers.
(interviewer) That’s the key.
(Edward) Not with regular—not with regular infantry.
(interviewer) Do you recall hearing
about the German surrendering and then the—
(Edward) Yeah, I was in Ann Arbor
when the Germans surrendered.
I was trying to get into the University of Michigan.
I wasn’t too sure I would make it.
But they stretched the rules a little bit and took me.
And I did not have any trouble in college at all.
I didn’t know if I would make it or not.
I didn’t even know if I graduated from high school.
In high school, I goofed around so much.
I moved around so much. They gave the people
that were not graduating—they gave them a blank diploma.
And all during the ceremony, I was trying to
peek down and see if it was
blank or good that they gave me.
I’d taken some courses in public
school on Saturday to make up.
And they accepted them.
But the education was a good education
I got in the Catholic high school.
I had to work a little harder than most
people that first year in college.
But I was—it wasn’t too hard.
(interviewer) How did you celebrate
the Japanese surrendering
and the war being over?
(Edward) I didn’t really feel much like celebrating at all.
I wanted to be—when the Germans
surrendered, I thought, my God. Here I am.
Everybody that’s important to me is in Germany.
Those are the people I would surrender
or celebrate with, not anybody else.
People dancing in the streets in Ann Arbor.
I’m sure most of them had never heard a shot fired.
But that’s the way it happened. I wasn’t upset.
But I didn’t want to participate in any
dancing in the street with people I didn’t know.
(interviewer) When were you discharged from the Army?
(Edward) I was discharged in August 1945 from the hospital
in Indianapolis at Camp Atterbury.
(interviewer) What rank were you?
(Edward) I was a PFC. I got promoted to sergeant.
But Stephen, the guy that wrote the Band of Brothers
(interviewer) Ambrose? (Edward) Yeah.
(interviewer) He promoted you, huh?
(Edward) I don’t know where they—
I never got higher than PFC.
I didn’t deserve a higher rank.
I could do everything that everybody
could do, but I was not outstanding.
I was not really mature enough to be a staff
sergeant or sergeant major, anything like that.
(interviewer) You were still a real young man, too.
(Edward) I was still what?
(interviewer) A young man at that time?
(Edward) Oh, yeah. I was twenty-one.
I was middle-aged in my group.
We had a lot younger.
Most of them were eighteen, nineteen.
Rogers is a year older than I am.
Paul was one of the very few that were older.
Very few people were more than twenty-one.
(interviewer) So you said earlier that after you got out
of the service, you used your GI Bill benefits
and went to school?
(Edward) Used them—I got all the way through and
got a master’s degree with the GI benefits.
(interviewer) Did you have any trouble with like nightmares
or what they call PTSD?
(Edward) I did for a couple of weeks, two or three weeks.
I’ve never had post-traumatic stress.
I just had a meeting with a psychiatrist in the VA.
I was getting re-evaluated by the VA.
It took them fourteen months.
They did a tremendous job. They pushed that very hard.
They kept saying, “Well, you must
have had some stress nightmares.”
I said, “No, I don’t now.”
The first three weeks out of combat, yes.
At night, I would have dreams.
And the war was still very much real.
But after I got out of there, I lived a totally
normal life as far as—except I got married
very, very late.
I got married at age sixty-one for the first time.
And my wife was married for the first time.
And she was far younger. You met her.
She was thirty-four when I met her.
Everybody was against the marriage. Everybody.
But they all said we were right, they were wrong.
Most of them said that marriage can’t
last more than maybe two years.
We’ve been married thirty-one years.
(interviewer) The important thing is are you happy?
(Edward) Yes.
(interviewer) Then it doesn’t matter
what everybody else thinks.
Did you have any trouble transitioning
from soldier back to civilian?
(Edward) No, I really didn’t. and I had a lot less
of a problem with being blind on one side.
People made a big thing out of that.
I found I could adjust to that when I was
getting consult for—at the University of Michigan.
Said, “You want to be a teacher?” The counselor said,
“You can’t be a teacher because
"if you’re blind in one side, the minute
"the kids at high school find out about
"that, they’re all going to be jumping up
and making faces at you.”
It never happened at all.
Thirty-one years of teaching,
thirty-two maybe, never happened.
I did everything I wanted to do as a teacher.
And I think I was pretty successful.
I had my fights with the
administrators, not with the kids.
(interviewer) Other than when you were wounded in Carentan,
what is your most memorable experience of the war?
(Edward) Most memorable experience what?
(interviewer) Of the war other than being wounded?
(Edward) Well, I think Carentan was very routine.
And I got wounded. It was an ordinary wound.
It was not unusual.
I think the most memorable experience I had
was landing and attacking this place—we
had eighteen or nineteen men.
We never would’ve attacked if we knew how many Germans.
There were seventy or eighty Germans.
But they weren’t ready to fight.
They were all unprepared.
That experience of two days holding that place.
The Germans wanted it very badly.
It was our mission to keep it.
That was—I think the guy I told you about
came out and said he was American.
That was—I remember that very well.
I’ve never been able to explain it unless
a German just took orders and followed orders blindly.
That’s hard for me to understand.
But it could’ve happened.
(interviewer) We talked a little bit about a couple of the
guys that you served with.
We talked about Sobel.
But give me your thoughts on some of
the other guys like Leibgott, Winters.
(Edward) Well, Winters was always
a number one person in my mind.
He was criticized for being a little bit
too much of a boy scout, a bit too good.
He never drank, never used bad language.
But I admired him very much.
I think we all did because he was such a contrast to Sobel.
He knew what he was doing.
He never had to look around to see if anybody was following.
He said, “Follow me.”
And he wouldn’t look back because
he knew every man would follow.
If Sobel said follow me, nobody would.
Everybody would disappear.
After the war, Winters got a lot of recognition.
He made speeches at West Point.
In fact, I have a friend that graduated
from West Point a couple years ago.
He says it’s the thing that Winters did
that should’ve gotten him
a medal of honor but didn’t get it.
He took five or six guys who just happened
to be standing there, and he wound up with
about ten just ordinary guys.
And he took out four big guns.
(interviewer) At Brecourt Manor.
(Edward) I didn’t really have close—I went to most
of the reunions after the war but not every one.
And Paul Rogers is probably the closest friend I had.
And Campbell Smith was the guy that was
with me in that first day of the invasion.
And he was the one that went up the stairs
with me after the sniper in the second day
after the invasion.
(interviewer) Who was it?
(Edward) Campbell Smith.
And he died thirty years ago.
He survived the war.
But he died about age sixty.
(interviewer) And unfortunately, a lot of guys went young.
My grandfather that was from Detroit died
at fifty-nine, about thirty years ago.
(Edward) Was he a smoker?
(interviewer) You know, I don’t remember.
I think he was, but I was nine when he passed.
(Edward) Yeah, well, that’s what killed a lot of them.
But there are people that have accidents.
And then there’s some—there’s one guy
that’s still remaining—I always forget
his name because I’ve never seen him after
the war, but he was very badly damaged.
He’s had brain operations, several of them.
He’s just basically been a bed patient since the whole war.
And he’s still alive, can’t believe it.
(interviewer) The injuries that you suffered, have they
given you trouble over the years?
(Edward) The what?
(interviewer) The injuries that you suffered.
(Edward) No, until my nineties.
I was in pretty good shape.
It was mid-eighties I had to quit skiing.
I could still ski fine, but I couldn’t take
the chance of a bad fall at high speed.
And I realized it.
I quit skiing about eighty-four, I think.
I went to my daughter’s wedding
when I was ninety. I was in good shape.
I walked without a cane, I danced with her at the wedding.
I made a speech at the wedding.
Everybody was amazed that somebody
that old was in such good shape.
But then I started to deteriorate.
Everything—the deterioration that I
have is almost entirely in my legs.
And it’s all connected with the wounds I received.
I’ve got a left ankle that was never traumatized
that’s perfectly normal, a right knee that
was never traumatized, functions perfectly.
If I had been in the war, I would
be walking without a cane, I bet.
But I’m not complaining.
I just am saying that I didn’t expect
the deterioration and mobility to come.
But it has come.
I really need a walker to get around.
(interviewer) Do you still have shrapnel in you?
(Edward) Do I have what?
(interviewer) Do you still have shrapnel in you?
(Edward) Most of it has found its way out.
But I probably still have some.
I don’t have any big pieces.
My daughter’s thirty years old now.
I was complaining one time about this lack of mobility.
She said, “Dad”—she said, “At
"your age, most people are dead. They don’t have any mobility.
You can’t complain at all.”
She’s right. And I still get around.
I can still drive.
And I consider myself a good driver, although,
I’ve had people tell me I should quit this
because of my age.
I don’t think so.
I’m going to take it to—I’ll get a test after
the first of the year and get an evaluation.
But I passed the driver’s license test easily.
I had cataract surgery.
And my eyesight is about the sight
of a thirty-year-old person.
My sight is good.
(interviewer) I had to take my great aunt’s car keys away
from her when she turned 102.
(Edward) Well, I know there’s a lot of denial involved
with people who just don’t want to give up the driving.
But there are some people that—I’ve never
had any trouble of putting my foot in the
gas by mistake.
I keep accommodating is what I do.
When my eyesight went bad for night
driving, I quit right away for ten years.
When I had that operation, the doctor
said, “You probably can drive at night.”
I said, “I don’t believe that.”
It took me quite a while to realize I could.
But I made adjustments.
I stay off the real heavy traffic, interStates
when—I don’t go to—I can drive on them.
But I don’t push my luck.
I drive now only in areas that I’m familiar with.
But I have—in the last three years,
no accidents, no tickets of any kind.
My insurance company thinks I should still be driving.
So that says—that’s a good—that’s
more than just I want to hear.
(interviewer) Who was your squad leader?
(Edward) My what?
(interviewer) When you landed in Normandy, who was your
squad leader?
(Edward) I don’t know.
I’m missing a word.
(interviewer) Your squad leader.
(Edward) Squad leader.
I don’t remember.
I just don’t remember.
(interviewer) What about your platoon commander?
(Edward) Platoon commander was a guy that was—did
not make the jump.
I can’t think of his name right now.
But he was wrestling with Winters and he sprained
his muscle in his—what is that called—anyway,
he was replaced. And the guy who was replaced,
it was one of the first—I had an argument with him
because I wanted to jump first because of the bazooka.
He said, “No, officers go first.”
And he went first. He was killed.
I was surviving. The next two were killed.
So the first four out of that plane, one survived.
And I was at—what was that guy’s name?
I have a typical short-term memory loss.
And my long-term memory is pretty good if
it’s something that I’ve thought about.
But I haven’t thought about that man’s
name for sixty years, seventy years.
(interviewer) I just have a couple
of closing questions for you.
but before I ask them, are there any other
little stories or events that you can think
of from the war that you’d like to add?
(Edward) No, I think we’ve covered a lot of ground.
And I think—when I say I lived a normal life after
being severely wounded, that might be
a little hard to believe.
When I was wounded and in the hospital, I thought I never
could live a normal life. I won’t be able to drive,
I won’t be able to get a job, I can’t pass
any physical test to get a job. Those things didn’t happen.
I got a job I want. I had a hard time getting a job
because they didn’t want somebody like me.
I had a master’s which I thought would be an advantage.
Big disadvantage. Superintendents hiring
don’t want to hire people with master’s.
They have to pay them more.
(interviewer) Especially one that
was going to stand up to them. (laughs)
(Edward) Well, that’s the big surprise I had that
I was able to live a normal life.
I’d ski and go up on the mountains with my daughter.
And we’d take the Black Diamond.
My daughter one time had a kid who
was making fun of her father.
She told me—she says, “This damn kid said,
‘at least I don’t have a father that’s
five hundred years old.' ’”
She said—and I told her—she’s just in middle school.
“My five-hundred-year-old father took me skiing last week.
"We went up to the top of Copper Mountain. We skied down.
Nobody could catch us. What did your father do—take you?”
And the kid started crying.
That’s surprised me that I lived this—I
never expected to live into my nineties.
I thought I would die.
My father died seventy-four.
His father died at age seventy-four.
My mother died at seventy-nine.
I thought the genetics would take me down.
At eighty, I’d be lucky.
And I’m long past eighty.
At eighty, I was in pretty good shape physically.
(interviewer) You’re still getting around good now.
I mean, you have a little trouble with the walking.
(Edward) I find I can adjust to these things a lot easier.
And even the wound—even being blind in one
side, I’m having a little trouble with that now.
But during—all during my working years, I never had trouble.
I’d always make an unconscious decision,
especially when I’m driving, I would turn
my head very slightly.
I could see the full windshield.
Now I have to think about it.
But I can still drive.
Just driving, I had one ticket, one
accident in the last twenty years.
The insurance companies said it’s not really an accident.
You got a ticket. But you didn’t deserve it.
A guy slammed on his brakes coming in the entrance of I-25.
That doesn’t mean anything to you.
But the interstate.
A squirrel ran out in front of him, slammed on his brakes.
I was behind him. I hit my brakes.
I touched his bumper, didn’t do any damage at all.
But he insisted in calling the cops.
So he was right.
He didn’t feel any impact at all.
But he didn’t know for sure.
The cops apologized for giving me a ticket.
Said I have no choice.
(interviewer) How did—like I said, I just have a couple
of closing questions for you—how
did World War II change your life?
(Edward) Well, surprisingly, I got tremendous improvement
in my life from World War II.
I got a college education.
And that changes everything for a person.
I had the opportunity—it was very easy for me
to take that opportunity and do something.
I was able to choose the occupation I wanted and work.
I came to school to teach.
And I enjoyed it and loved it for thirty—about thirty years.
I started getting a little bit cranky last year or two.
My hearing went out in 1979.
I had to quit teaching.
And I was not quite ready to quit teaching—to leave.
But it’s very important.
I tell my daughter, if you have you have to
do some kind of work, you might as well do something you like.
And if you like it, you’ll probably be good at it.
And she has exceeded all expectations.
She eventually went up as a high-paid corporate
attorney for an international law firm.
She did that for three years until
she got her student loan paid.
Then she quit, took a tremendous pay cut to
work at the attorney general’s office to
do what she really wanted to do.
So I think she made a good decision.
She’s doing what she loves to do.
She’s only been doing that for about four months.
She could do the other job.
But she didn’t like being at the beck and call.
They pay you a tremendous salary.
But they want you on call twenty-four, seven.
(interviewer) And I agree.
You really have to like what you do.
I mean, I absolutely love what I do. This is what I do.
I have the greatest job in the world.
What does your service during
World War II mean to you today?
What does your service during the war mean to you today?
(Edward) Well, it changed my life in many ways.
It changed my attitudes.
I think I’ve always had probably an unrealistic
good opinion of myself, a high opinion of myself.
But I think that gave me the confidence I never had before.
Once you get into an outfit that is the best
of the best and you know you can perform with
them, it changes your opinion of yourself.
And I’ve probably did some fool-hearted
things that I wouldn’t have done.
I just thought I could take on anything.
I was in Vienna right after the war.
And I walked into a Soviet hotel
for VIP Soviet people by mistake.
There were guards with machine guns.
I just walked on past. I didn't care.
And I had a camera.
And I came in and somebody grabbed
me and they grabbed the camera.
And they—I spoke some French, I spoke good Spanish,
but I didn’t speak German, I didn’t speak Russian.
And they kept me for a while.
Finally, a guy told me—he spoke English—he said,
“You are in Soviet territory right now.
"You’re under Soviet law.
"And you turn your camera—you could be sent to Siberia.
And I’m not joking.” He said,
“I’ll let you go. I think you’re harmless.”
But he said, “You’re very fortunate you’re talking to me.
"Some people would—you’d never be heard—you’d
"better reconsider what you’re doing walking
into a place like this.”
And I don’t know.
I just—I’ve never been afraid of anybody.
My wife worries about burglars all the time.
I don’t worry about that.
I think even as old as I am, I can
use a cane to disable people.
I don’t hit them on the head.
But I use a cane like a bayonet— I know a lot of other things
that the ordinary person doesn’t know, never
would dream of, especially from somebody my age.
But I’ve never felt any fear of any
of the normal hazards of life.
That’s one thing that changed.
I changed very much because of my military experience.
(interviewer) I only had one more question for you.
we’re here at the National World War II Museum.
Do you think it’s important for there to be
institutions like this and for us to continue
to teach World War II to future generations?
And if so, why?
(Edward) Well, I think it’s all a part of dealing
in people a chance and people particularly
a chance to see what sacrifice we make to
preserve freedom and how important that is.
And I think if they get it now and I’m not
sure that people—even teachers I don’t
think realize how knowledgeable these kids
are about the important things like that.
Yes, I think there’s no question in my mind
there’s a very important function of the museum.
And that’s one of the things that it
does make available, that knowledge.
A lot of first-hand stuff, I’m sure.
(interviewer) Well, that’s all I got.
I appreciate you.
(Edward) Oh, not at all.
(interviewer) Oh, I had a great time.
I didn’t mean to keep you tied up for two hours.
(laughs) But I guess time flies when you’re having fun.
I’m going to stop this right there
unless there’s anything else.
Captioned by AdeptWordManagement.com


Edward Tipper was a member of a military group that received a tremendous amount of recognition. He was 18 or 19 when Pearl Harbor was bombed. [Annotator’s Note: Tipper was a member of Company E in the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. It was written about in The Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. The book was made into a popular miniseries. Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7 December 1941] Like many other young men at the time, he wanted to get into the fight against the Japanese. He volunteered for the Marines two weeks after the attack. He was turned down because of dental issues. If he would have been accepted in the Corps, he might not have survived the war. Many of the men who initially joined the Marines had limited training before they were thrust quickly into combat. Told to return in two weeks, Tipper told the recruiter to take him now or forget about it. That made Tipper move to join the airborne within the United States Army. The paratroopers were just getting started at the time. He went with two other men from the Detroit area. They traveled to Toccoa by train in August. [Annotator’s Note: Camp Toccoa, Georgia was next to the Currahee Mountains. Currahee meant stand alone in the native Indian language and it would become the regimental motto.] At the time, E Company of the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment had just been activated. He was an original member of the Company. Tipper grew up in what was referred to as a blighted area of Detroit. It was composed of lower class factory workers. He has done well after starting in such a humble beginning. He was pleased with his military duty in the paratroopers. He went on to get a college education. He taught school for over 30 years. He was happy with his life after growing up in a factory town. His father worked at a forge in Detroit. He was proud of his ability to do the foundry work. Life in Detroit was not very unusual. His parents were Irish immigrants who were strong Catholics. They sacrificed to send their son to Catholic school. The Catholic school he attended prepared him well for the University of Michigan. The Catholic schools emphasized good behavior which he needed. Tipper had a brother who died as an infant in the flu epidemic of 1919. He had a second brother who also went to war. The family was poor during the Great Depression, but his father always found work and put food on the table. Tipper was with friends on a bus when he heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The bus was flagged down and someone announced the attack. Women cried at the news. Tipper and his friends did not know where Pearl Harbor was, but they joked that in a few weeks they would all be eating rice and fish heads. That showed how mistaken their attitude was. No one realized the damage done to our naval forces. Tipper wanted to enlist in the Marines because his country was attacked. Teenagers today would have the same reaction if our country was attacked. Tipper has had enough contact with young people today to know that they would react to defend our country. They have so much more knowledge of the world today compared to young people back in Tipper’s youth. He knew very little about World War One compared to the education that youngsters get today. He did not know of the oppression that much of the world suffered during his youth. He only came to know of those conditions when he went into the Army and saw what France in particular suffered. [Annotator’s Note: France suffered under Nazi domination between 1940 and 1944]


Edward Tipper enlisted in the Army. All paratroopers enlisted. None were drafted. He wanted to join the paratroopers in order to be a part of the very best outfit. He wanted to serve with men who knew their business. He did not want to be next to some goof off in the middle of the night in combat who might light up a cigar. [Annotator’s Note: the glow from a smoke in the middle of the night would be visible to an enemy sniper who would target the smoker as well as Tipper, ostensibly.] He wanted first class men serving with him. He could trust his life to them. No other unit had the extensive training the airborne had. His unit had a year and nine months of detailed training of all kinds. They learned to ride horses, steal trains, and operate steam engines. The training eliminated those who were not really committed. In Toccoa, three men would dropout compared to the one man who remained in the Regiment. [Annotator’s Note: Camp Toccoa, Georgia was the training camp for the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment-PIR. It was next to the Currahee Mountains. Currahee meant stand alone in the native Indian language and would become the regimental motto.] The men were athletic and motivated. Tipper was proud to make the cut with those men and to call them friends. Every man was at least a high school athlete. They had positive attitude and would never quit. You could drop out of a run as long as you got back up and finished the requirement. You would continue to be in the Regiment as long as you never quit. When Tipper initially entered the service, he had 12 weeks experimental basic training with the paratroopers. It was a mixture of basic and paratrooper training. They used a mock DC-7 fuselage for training. [Annotator’s Note: the paratroopers largely jumped from Douglas C-47 Skymaster transport aircraft.] That taught the right technique for jumping. Accidents can happen if the jumper’s body is not in the right position on exiting the aircraft. Everything had to be by reflex action. Only one man was lost during qualification jumps when he had a seizure in the plane. All others made their five jumps required for paratrooper qualification at Fort Benning. Tripper had a very good friend who was killed on the first day of D-Day invasion of Normandy. [Annotator’s Note: 6 June 1944] The man’s name was Bob Blasher from Philadelphia. He was only 20 years old and his life ended. [Annotator’s Note: the spelling is not certain on the name of Tipper’s friend.] Tipper was shocked by the loss of men like his friend. Tipper feels emotional any time he comes near a military cemetery. Many of the troops in Tipper’s Company made very successful lives after the war. One example was Carwood Lipton who was a close friend to Tipper. [Annotator’s Note: Lipton received a battlefield commission with Tipper’s Easy Company in the 506th PIR. He was promoted from 1st Sergeant to 2nd Lieutenant. He was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts for his action in combat. He ultimately would be promoted to 1st Lieutenant.] Lipton would become a successful executive in Europe for Owens-Illinois Company. John Martin was successful in Phoenix real estate. [Annotator’s Note: SSgt John Martin was one of the original 506 PIR Easy Company members] The training these men experienced at Toccoa helped them through life. They learned they could outperform any limitations in their minds. Tipper was not worried about jumping into France because of his training and his confidence in his fellow paratroopers. Combat decisions and reactions were automatic because of the training. As a bazooka man, Tipper checked his weapon immediately on landing. He discovered that the batteries were no longer working in the bazooka and the weapon would not fire. An untrained individual might not have learned that the weapon was useless until he tried to stop a tank with it. Tipper was a runner for Sobel and knew him well. [Annotator’s Note: Captain Michael Sobel was a highly inflammatory individual who had no support within the paratroopers he commanded in Easy Company.] Sobel was not as bad as he was thought to be. He did not have to be in a hazardous outfit but he was. He was a city boy in over his head. He had a difficult time dealing with men because they were physically and mentally sharper than him. Sobel could run. He could not do many pushups compared to the men he was training. He tried to use his power over the men to demonstrate he was superior, but he was not. Tipper had the opinion that Sobel felt he was inferior to his men. He had problems reading a map and had to have a subordinate help him. He could not read a compass or tell the contours on a map. Sobel attended a military school but was not a West Point graduate. Nevertheless, he had a commission as a captain upon graduation. He could have had a much softer job rather than the one he took. As it turned out, the whole Company with the sergeants in the lead voted not to go into combat with him. That bordered on mutiny. The men did not realize the seriousness of their actions, but they knew they would all be killed if Sobel lead them into combat. Tipper had a negative clash with Sobel. Tipper could type so he was in company headquarters under Sobel. Tipper was typing passes for friends and he knew he would be caught by Sobel. Tipper requested a personal leave to go on a date with a girl and Sobel initially agreed. When the time came for the date, Sobel refused Tipper’s leave. Tipper went anyway and got into hot water with Sobel. Lipton wanted Tipper and got him despite the fact that he was allergic to following rules. That was the group that he chose. Tipper went through his career as a potential trouble maker and was not accustomed to taking any crap from anybody. The leaders who gave him trouble could expect trouble right back. Most teachers during his career were desperate to keep their jobs. Tipper was not worried about keeping his job even though he liked what he was doing. Eventually, he would be awarded a fellowship along with about 20 other high school teachers in the country. That showed the quality of his work. Tipper would not always agree with everything that managers proposed so he was at times considered to be a trouble maker. Sobel helped Easy Company become what it was destined to be. Sobel helped the men bond together. The troops united against their Captain. That bond was a strong motivator in the Company’s future survival and success.


Edward Tipper completed his paratrooper training in the United States and shipped out for England. Before going aboard their ship in New York, they were told to remove their paratrooper insignia from their uniform and caps and to pull their trousers out of their jump boots. This was intended to hide their paratrooper designation. They were to appear as typical troops and not paratroopers when they arrived in England. When they landed in Liverpool, they were surprised to hear Lord Haw Haw broadcasting a welcome for them—the 101st Division. [Annotator’s Note: Lord Haw Haw was an Englishman who broadcasted propaganda messages for the Germans to demoralize the Allies.] The men thought at the time that the Germans had an effective espionage network. What they did not realize until later was the German network of spies had been totally breached. The English had nabbed the enemy spies and made them work as double agents. The information that they were providing to Germany was not significant. The German Enigma Code had been broken but that was not revealed until after the war was over. [Annotator’s Note: the Enigma Code was a complex military intelligence code the Germans created before the war and modified often during the conflict. Code breakers in Poland before the war as well as in Bletchley Park in England during the war managed to break the difficult codes. The Allied high command kept that fact a secret allowing the Allies to foresee German strategies prior to their initiation.] The German espionage did not work at all during the war. Nevertheless, the American troops thought they were being spied upon but the information was all but useless to the enemy. Tipper had no problem with his experiences in Ireland and England. He knew the attitude of people there and knew the money because as a youth he had spent time in Ireland. He shared his rations with local inhabitants there and befriended people as a result. He established long term relationships with some of those people and saw them long after the war. Some troops had problems with people in the United Kingdom but Tipper had no issues. Tipper had relatives in Ireland at the time. Tipper attempted to visit them but General Eisenhower changed the travel policy to Ireland and Tipper never saw them then or even after the war. Tipper would trade his cigarette rations for chocolate bars because he was not a smoker during the war. Later, he would smoke for 15 years, but quit before it ruined his health as it did for many of his friends. Tipper took up smoking when he was taking courses for his Master’s Degree. He gave up smoking after 15 years.


Edward Tipper was on detached service with another company in Southern England during the preparatory phase to the invasion of Normandy. He returned to his Company immediately before the jump into France. The men of the 101st Airborne were taken to the airfield a few days before the invasion. There was heavy security around the facility. The men were given detailed information including the habits of the German leadership. What they did not receive was the details about the hedgerows. That would have been far more beneficial than information on officer traits and habits. [Annotator’s Note: the Allied troops had major problems penetrating the Norman hedgerows. Inexplicably, there were no briefings or plans concerning how to handle these natural German defensive positions once the Allies progressed beyond the initial beachheads.] The men learned to deal with the hedgerows as they progressed through them in Normandy. [Annotator’s Note: innovative thinking yielded a solution for pulling up the hedgerows using steel teeth welded on front of Sherman tanks. The teeth uprooted the deeply rooted hedge growth allowing gaps in the obstacles for advancing troops.] While Tipper was in Ireland as a youth with his mother, he experienced how good life was there. There were no worries about people abusing children or robbing from each other. If there would have been offenders perpetrating those crimes, the local population would have torn the offender apart. Tipper’s detached duty away from the 101st involved relocating to Winchester in Southern England and preparing billeting for the 82nd Airborne Division. The 82nd had served in North Africa and was to be part of the D-Day invasion of France. There had been sufficient training for Tipper so there was no worry about the reassignment. The first attempt at the invasion was called off because of harsh weather. The paratroopers were near their planes but did not actually board the aircraft. The individuals carried about 100 pounds of equipment and supplies. The man boarding the aircraft had to be pushed forward by the man behind him. Some items were unnecessary such as protective clothes that would be used in case of a gas attack. Most troops threw away their gas masks. Tipper was one of them. Men would use the gas mask container to carry extra candy bars. The night after the harsh weather, the 101st would board the planes to jump into France. [Annotator’s Note: the 101st boarded their aircraft on the evening of 5 June 1944 and jumped into Normandy after midnight on 6 June 1944]


Edward Tipper and the troops of the 101st Airborne were very confident about jumping into France. Their training was so good, they felt they were ready. They were fed a robust final meal before the jump. The pilots were not combat trained. They were confused in dropping their paratroopers. The speed was planned to be reduced to 110 miles per hour but the pilot panicked and kept the speed up. When Tipper jumped, his equipment was ripped off his back. He did retain his rifle and bazooka. He assembled the three pieces of his rifle but his bazooka was not of any use. Its activating battery was damaged or lost. Tipper at least had a rifle but some men like Winters landed with only a knife to begin the attack. [Annotator’s Note: both the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions experienced considerable confusion, lack of organization structure, and loss of equipment because of the hasty and erratic drops made by the transport pilots as a result of the antiaircraft fire from the enemy in the heavy fog. First Lieutenant Richard “Dick” Winters assisted in leading Easy Company of the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment—PIR. He would go on to become a Major in command of the 2nd Battalion of the 506 PIR.] The passwords and clickers issued to the paratroopers were not used that much. The men knew each other and did not need the code words. Tipper and one other man from his Company gathered numerous men from other outfits and attacked the enemy without an officer to lead them. The Germans were not ready for the attack so it succeeded very quickly. No losses were experienced by the Americans when the men took over the building. It was a key location at the intersection of multiple roads. The Germans made multiple counterattacks that failed. Half a mile from the beach, the crossroads location was important to the Germans. It remained under the control of the Americans. The paratroopers took the location and held it. The group started with just two E Company men but more arrived as time progressed. Seven more E Company men joined the fight for the crossroads. An officer called the Mad Major showed up. He was from the 1st Battalion and the men of E Company did not know him. [Annotator’s Note: John “Mad Major” Stopka] E Company was part of the 2nd Battalion. The Major led the men well and they held their position for a lengthy time. Utah Beach unlike Omaha had very little enemy fire. It was a slaughter on Omaha. Tipper and his fellow paratroopers completed their mission without even knowing it. [Annotator’s Note: the scattered paratroopers had been briefed before their jump that they were to prevent German counterattacks from hitting the invasion beaches of Utah and Omaha. In holding their crossroads position, Tipper and the others helped prevent German counterattacks through that road junction.] The important role the paratroopers played in holding their position was only learned 50 years later. Even though he could not see the Allied fleet below him as he flew over it, from Tipper’s redoubt position at the crossroads, he could go up to the second and third floor and view the multitude of ships offshore. It was an unforgettable sight that remained with him throughout his life. The invasion did have a chance of failure. The bloodletting at Omaha Beach was terrible. The landings at Utah were far less costly. The Rangers at Pointe du Hoc made the difference. [Annotator’s Note: the 2nd Ranger Battalion climbed the steep cliffs at Point du Hoc and destroyed nearby German artillery that could have pinned down assaulting American troops at Utah and Omaha Beaches.] Tipper had never heard of the Rangers but he would have liked to join the ski troops of the 10th Mountain Division. He was discouraged about a transfer so he stayed with the airborne. He initially learned about the airborne from a Hollywood movie. It turned out to be exactly what he needed. Tipper did not have to take air sickness pills on the flight over to Normandy from England. Men who took the pills may have gotten drowsy as a result. Smoking was not heavy on the plane. The aircraft began taking antiaircraft fire when it crossed the German held islands of Guernsey and Jersey. The fire was as heavy as shown on the movie Band of Brothers. When Tipper jumped, his backpack was jerked off of him because of the air speed. He hit a tree and it helped slow his fall. He was fortunate that he had no injury. He could hear the pops of the machine gun fire hitting his aircraft. He wanted to get out of the plane as soon as the aircraft crossed over any land and not wait until they were over the destination. He landed eight or nine miles off the target touchdown at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Everyone else seemed to be off target, too.


Edward Tipper and a band of paratroopers captured a key crossroads location without the use of any automatic weapons. [Annotator’s Note: the paratroopers from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions had been scattered across the Norman peninsula. This group of paratroopers was from multiple units who merged together. They took the initiative to come together and complete their mission of blocking key road intersections and bridges.] They had only a BAR with no machine guns or Tommy guns. [Annotator’s Note: BAR—Browning Automatic Rifle and Tommy gun—the Thompson submachine gun] The Germans must have thought the Americans were better armed after they captured the key location. Tipper overcame his fear and his training took hold in the combat situation. The initial trepidation gave way to simply reacting under fire. When troops from Utah Beach reached Tipper’s position a day and a half after the landing, the paratroopers knew their company headquarters would be near Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. They knew they had to make their way there. They left in small groups so everyone did not stay together. The movement had to be paced because it could not be determined who had control of what areas. The paratroopers encountered Polish cavalry troops who were under German command. Several horses were captured. The Americans enjoyed riding the horses. By evening, the paratroopers met up with their company. There was fighting along the way prior to getting to the rendezvous. While they proceed to the company, a sniper fired on them from a church. Smith and Tipper went up to the steeple but the sniper had disappeared. [Annotator’s Note: no given name was provided for Smith] The German sniper evidently had an escape route planned. At least from that point forward, the sniper no longer fired on the Americans from that steeple. When Tipper reached E Company headquarters, about half the men were there. Ultimately, about 100 of the original contingent of 165 men in the company would show up. Some of the best men would take as much as a week to show up. It was a disorganized situation. There were Germans everywhere. Three of the missing men were Paul Rogers, Earl McClung, and Jim Alley. The three men had been fighting all the time. When E Company attacked Carentan on 12 June, those three had not shown up yet. Tipper was wounded on 12 June in the combat. On the four days prior to the attack, the company did patrols with intermittent fighting. There was not a particular objective during that time. There was an attack on the American camp but the artillery was not accurate. The camp moved soon afterward. 88s hit the ground nearby so it was time to move. [Annotator’s Note: the German 88mm antiaircraft guns were also used against armor and personnel. They were normally very accurate when manned by an experienced gun crew.] The quality of the German fighting troops was all over the map. Some, such as the German paratroopers, were very good. Others were not so good. There were so many false alarms the Germans had to react to, it lessened their responsive ability. The German equipment was very good, but perhaps it was too good. Tipper never saw any Tiger tanks but they were good. In contrast, the American production of numerous Sherman tanks won the faceoff since they were far more numerous. Six or eight Shermans could take on one Tiger but they had to be very careful not to be picked off one by one. The automobile company that Tipper worked for in Detroit switched from cars to antiaircraft guns overnight. The Willow Run factory produced a heavy bomber off its assembly line every hour. The German machine gun was very good. It fired at a very rapid rate. Likewise the Schmeisser machine pistol was a very good weapon firing more rapidly than the old Tommy gun used by the Army. The disadvantage with the German automatic weapons was the excessive ammunition used (and thus had to be carried around the battlefields). It was unnecessary to hit an adversary six or eight times to put him down. Hitting a person once with a .45 would take him out. The German machine guns were prone to overheat quickly because of the rapid rate of fire. [Annotator’s Note: this reference is to the German MG 42 light machine gun and the Schmeisser MP 40 machine pistol or submachine gun used extensively throughout the war by Germany and her allies. The Thompson submachine gun chambered a .45 caliber round. The MP 40 used a slightly smaller 9mm rounds.] There were many instances of the Germans abandoning their tanks because they were disabled. The Americans had a tendency to return to their disabled tank and retrieve it for future use if it was still in acceptable condition. On the second day of combat, a man presented himself as a lost American to Tipper and his group. One of Tipper’s group immediately shot the man. When asked why he did so, the paratrooper said to look at the lost man’s boots. They were German boots. It was an enemy soldier disguising himself as an American. His English was perfect; maybe a little too perfect. He would have been better off coming in barefooted. When he went inside a building and the hobnails on the bottom of his boots gave him away as German. Likely, the German had been ordered to find the Americans and discover their strength and weaponry. He may have blindly followed his commander’s order where an American would have objected to that type of order. Tipper certainly would not have agreed to that order. There were civilians who provided food to the Americans. There were German sympathizers in the dairy farms of Normandy. The majority of the local population was very happy with their liberation but not everyone. Most welcomed the Americans but some could have been unhappy that the liberators spoiled their good thing with the Germans. Tipper knew a woman who had a family that was coerced into providing supplies to the Germans. When the family withheld a portion of those supplies for their own use, the Germans reacted by threatening the mother with execution. They held a pistol to the mother’s head and said the next time she would be shot. The family had no doubt that the Germans would follow up on that threat if that situation happened again.


Edward Tipper credits paratrooper training with assisting in making the attack on Carentan a success. The decision was made to advance on Carentan from the south because it was a swampy area. Because of the difficult terrain, the Germans lightly defended that portion of their position. About 200 fully equipped Americans went single file about 30 or 40 miles around the swamp to prepare for the attack. [Annotator’s Note: Easy Company together with other 506 PIR companies advanced on Carentan] A single misstep by one man could have ruined the whole operation. Instead, it was done perfectly. The Germans were not prepared for the attack from the direction taken by the paratroopers. The action was quick. Tipper was wounded during the fight. The Americans had three machine guns while the Germans only had one. The men of the 506th came up on a three way crossroads with houses in the background. As the Americans advanced, they had to clear the houses. They did not have grenades but kicked the doors in and cleared the buildings one by one. Tipper and Joe Liebgott worked to clear a house that was burning. It was a middle class house without indoor plumbing. There was an outhouse in the back beside a stone wall. Tipper fired a few shots and discovered the house was clear. He yelled at Liebgott that it was clear but about that time there was an explosion. At first, Tipper thought it was a grenade, but it was a mortar round. The explosion broke both Tipper’s legs and destroyed his right eye. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his collarbone and his back, but he did not drop his weapon. He turned around to get the enemy soldier he thought threw the grenade. Tipper was in shock, but his training took over. He had been trained that his rifle was his best friend, and he would not drop it. Liebgott told Tipper it was a mortar shell and he and others risked their lives to assist him. That was the way the men supported each other. There was an aid station close by. Doc [name not understood], the Company surgeon, gave aid to Tipper before he was strapped to a jeep and brought to the beach. The jeep had to take evasive action because the Red Cross did not mean anything to the enemy. The driver should have gotten hazard pay but he did not. Tipper made it to the hospital and received first class medical treatment. The wounds were bad and he could have died from them. Tipper would return to the hospital in Indianapolis and visit the parents of his friend Sergeant Talbert. [Annotator’s Note: Sgt Floyd Talbert in Easy Company] When the mother told her son that Tipper had visited for their Thanksgiving dinner, Talbert told them to call the MPs and get that visitor in jail because Tipper had died. Tipper was in the hospital for a year before he was released. The portrayal in the movie Band of Brothers of Tipper being wounded and Liebgott assisting him was fairly accurate. The main difference was that Tipper had not shot a bazooka during the house to house fight at Carentan. He functioned as a rifleman in that action even though he did carry a bazooka. Following the explosion, Tipper’s injury was severe enough to make his head feel swollen and as mushy as a watermelon. He knew his eye was probably gone. He had a piece of shrapnel near the eye. He lost his eye due to the concussion of the mortar round that hit near him. He has always had a vivid memory of the event. In the hospital, he heard the name of his friend, Foster. He called his name but the man nearby was dead. It turned out to not be his friend. Later he found that his friend had, in fact, died but was not recovered until two years after the war. It was not just bodies being found, but lost tanks were still being found in swampy areas years after the war. Lieutenant Welsh and Liebgott were the two men that first reached Tipper after the explosion that severely wounded him. [Annotator’s Note: no given name for Foster could be found; however, First Lieutenant Harry F. Welsh was an officer in Easy Company 506 PIR] Tipper could hobble on one foot though he had bones broken in both legs. The two men assisted Tipper to the aid station even though mortar rounds were still falling near them. His condition stabilized over three or four days at the beach hospital. At that point, he was placed on a boat in route to a hospital in England. He was in England for three or four months and then sent by boat to the United States.


Edward Tipper arrived at Crile General Hospital in Cleveland after his flight from a hospital in England. [Annotator’s Note: He had partially recovered from a severe wounding in combat at Carentan, France.] He was at Crile for two or three months. While there a man claiming to be a major proposed that he would get back pay owed to all the men in the ward. The individual turned out to be a psycho. He was psychotic and crazy. He was placed under psychiatric treatment. [Annotator’s Note: Tipper chuckles at the memory] Leaving the men of Easy Company behind was not something he felt good about. One individual in the Company was wounded and skipped out of the hospital to rejoin the Company in Bastogne. Even though he never had to make that decision, he has felt a certain guilt about not being with the Company during that action. No one has ever said anything to him about it. They all took the same chances. [Annotator’s Note: Easy Company of the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment—PIR in the 101st Airborne Division successfully fought a besieged battle against the Germans at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Tipper had been severely wounded and hospitalized in June 1944 during the Normandy campaign prior to both Operation Market Garden in September 1944 and the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.] The first man to reach Tipper when he landed in Normandy was Maleck who was killed in Bastogne by a sniper. Though the outcome was drastic, the dead man would probably have preferred his outcome than to be severely wounded like Tipper. [Annotator’s Note: the dead man’s name could not be confirmed] The guilt of surviving has had to be put to the back of Tipper’s mind for the last 30 or 40 years. He does not dwell on it. If Tipper had only been wounded in the arm, he likely would have returned to combat with his unit. The bond between the troops was very strong. After Crile, Tipper was sent to Atterbury Hospital on Camp Atterbury in Indianapolis. He stayed there for the remainder of the one year he spent in various hospitals. He was going to be sent to fight the Japanese after leaving the hospital. He wanted to go to college and not fight the Japanese. He felt he had done his part in the war. Although functioning well, his wounds had not completely closed. He raised enough hell that they let him out of the assignment. If his group had been sent to Japan, he would have gone. He did not want to go with strangers or just regular infantry. Tipper was in Ann Arbor when the Germans surrendered. He was attempting to get into the University of Michigan there. The rules were stretched a bit and he entered college. He had no problems in college. In high school, he was not sure whether he was actually going to receive his diploma. He took extra courses on weekends and successfully got through. When the Germans surrendered, Tipper felt everyone he wanted to celebrate with was in Europe. Those celebrating in the streets had probably never heard a shot fired. He had no interest in dancing with them. He was discharged from the service in August 1945. He had been in the hospital at Camp Atterbury. He was a PFC at discharge. [Annotator’s Note: PFC—Private First Class] He was promoted to Sergeant by Stephen Ambrose in the book Band of Brothers but he never actually got above PFC. He was not mature enough to become a of non-commissioned officer. He was still a young man. Paul Rogers was a year older than him.


Edward Tipper continued his education after the service. He used the GI Bill to receive a Master’s Degree. He experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder initially after his discharge. He would overcome those feelings with consultation from the VA. [Annotator’s Note: VA—Veterans Administration] He lived a normal life although he married late at 61 years of age. He married a much younger woman who was 34 years of age. Many thought she was not suitable for him. He has been happy for decades in that relationship. His transition from soldier to civilian was not bad. The injury to his right eye has not been too much of an obstacle to him. He has had a successful career as a teacher for over 30 years. He has achieved almost everything he desired to do as a teacher.


Edward Tipper remembered the attack on Carentan and his subsequent wounding as an ordinary series of events. The most memorable circumstance of the war was the attack in Normandy on a key German position with 18 or 19 men. Also, the shooting of the German dressed as an American in Normandy has stuck in his mind. [Annotator’s Note: the German position in Normandy was a key road intersection that was an objective to prevent an enemy counterattack. The German soldier in Normandy was dressed as an American, but he kept his hobnail boots on. Those distinctive boots gave him away as an enemy soldier in disguise and he was summarily shot.] In review of the men Tipper served with, Winters was always number one. He was originally thought to be too much of a Boy Scout because he did not drink much or curse but he was in sharp contrast to Sobel. [Annotator’s Note: First Lieutenant Richard “Dick” Winters was a platoon leader in Easy Company of the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment—PIR during the jump into Normandy. He would go on to become a Major in command of the 2nd Battalion of the 506 PIR. Winters was preceded as commander of Easy by First Lieutenant Herbert Sobel. Sobel was a highly inflammatory individual who had no support within the paratroopers he commanded in Easy Company. Sobel brought Winters up on charges which did not hold. The men of Easy would rebel against Sobel’s leadership because of their lack of faith in him being a combat leader.] If Winters said to follow him, everyone did. With Sobel, no one would follow him. Winters received a lot of attention after the war. Winters should have gotten the Medal of Honor for his action at Brecourt Manor. Winters grabbed a few men and took out multiple enemy artillery pieces. Although he has attended a few reunions, Tipper has not been to every one of them. Paul Rogers has been a good friend throughout his life. Campbell Smith was with Tipper on the first day of combat and was with him when he went up into a church steeple to eliminate a German sniper. Smith would survive the war but died years later. Many of the men died from smoking. Many who suffered injuries in the war survived for years. Tipper would ski for years after the war. His was very active until late in his life. The deterioration was from war wounds. Without those wounds, he would have not had those problems. Most of the shrapnel found its way out of his body. There are no remaining large pieces. Tipper has done well with his physical and mental abilities according to his daughter. Many people with disabilities have denial but Tipper has never done anything more than accommodate the onset of difficulties. He has managed to make necessary adjustments. He does not push his luck. When Tipper landed in Normandy, his platoon leader did not make the jump. He had wrestled with Winters and could not jump. The platoon leader replacement did not survive the jump. He and the next three to jump from the transport aircraft would die. Tipper was the fifth to jump despite asking to jump first because of the bazooka he carried. The new platoon leader kept Tipper in the fifth position and he survived where the first four to jump died. Tipper managed to get the work he desired after his discharge. He lived a normal life which included going up in the mountains to ski with his daughter. She was always proud of her father even though he was much older than the fathers of her friends. [Annotator’s Note: Tipper first married at 61 years of age. His wife was 34 years of age.] Tipper always was more active with his daughter than the other fathers were with their daughters. Tipper never expected to live into his 90s. His family members had never made it that far. He thought genetics would catch up with him. Despite some difficulties with walking, he gets along very well. He was involved in an accident but the officer said it was not an incident to worry about. The policeman apologized for having to give Tipper the ticket.


Edward Tipper had his life improved as a result of his service in World War Two. He received a college education and chose the career he wanted as a result. He enjoyed teaching for over 30 years. He became cranky at the end of his career when his hearing began to fail. He has always recommended to his daughter to select work that she liked. In doing so, a person will succeed if they enjoy their work. She has far exceeded expectations. She has even taken a pay cut in order to do what she prefers doing. Tipper’s attitude was changed by the war. His high opinion of himself provided confidence in his abilities. He joined the airborne and knew he was with the very best. While he was in Vienna at the end of the war, he walked into a Soviet facility with a camera. He did not speak Russian, but the guard admonished him that he could be sent to Siberia because he was in Soviet jurisdiction. He was cautioned to be more aware of his circumstances. Even at Tipper’s advanced age, he feels no fear. He can protect himself with his cane. He knows from his military training where he can hurt a person in self defense. It is important to give young people a chance to see how important it is to make the sacrifice for freedom. The National WWII Museum makes that knowledge available and serves an important function in that way.

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