This Day In History: June 10, 1944 - Alumnus Ed Tipper

Submitted by wildbackdunesman on June 10th, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Ed Tipper was born in Detroit on August 3rd, 1921.  Born into the false prosperity of the 1920s and grew up in the Great Depression as a part of the so called “Greatest Generation.”  Although he spent part of his childhood in Ireland, he spent most of his youth in the city of Detroit.  In High School he was the Captain of the football team, class president, but had "spotty grades" and was known for getting into mischief.  He aspired to attend the University of Michigan, but didn't get in.  So instead he worked at a department store doing deliveries.

On December 7th, 1941 he was visiting Dearborn Village with a friend to see history on Henry Ford when the bus stopped - the driver made an announcement and turned on the radio - Pearl Harbor had been attacked.  Ladies in the bus started crying and Ed Decided instantly to join the Marines.  The Marines turned him down, due to having a severe overbite, so instead he joined the US Army and volunteered for the paratroopers.

He trained at Tocca, became a bazooka man, and became a part of what would become the famous Easy Company of the 506th within the 101st Airborne.  He trained for over 2 years before finally seeing combat on June 6th, 1944 - D-Day.  He landed behind enemy lines and helped take out German positions that were firing onto Utah beach.  He would see action every day from June 6 up until the Battle for Carentan, which begun on June 10, 1944.

In Carentan, Ed Tipper and his fellow paratroopers were ordered to clear the houses.  On the very first house that Ed came to he kicked in the door.  They were under orders to throw grenades into the house before entering, but he was out of grenades from fighting in the preceding days so he went in gun first and looked for Germans.  The house was empty as he made his way to the back door and peered out into the back yard of the house.  Seeing a shed, he called out if anyone was inside and when he got no response he put 3 shots into it.  He made his way back to the front of the house when the Germans sprung their trap. 

At once, mortar shells started dropping on their side of Carentan.  8 to 10 paratroopers were instantly wounded.  Shrapnel hit all over Ed Tipper.  His right eye was gone, both legs were broken, and he had dangerous shrapnel in his left knee, right hip, and left elbow.

Fellow paratroopers, Joe Liebgott and Harry Welsh risked their lives as the shells rained down to stop Ed's wounds from bleeding his life away.  His wounds were so severe that it required a year of hospitalization and the men of Easy Company thought that he died. In fact, when he stopped by in 1945 to visit fellow paratrooper Floyd Talbert's parents, Floyd told his parents that it had to be an impersonator, because he was still having nightmares from having seen Ed Tipper die from an exploding mortar shell before his eyes.

While recovering from his wounds, Ed Tipper started thinking about his failed dream of attending the University of Michigan and became determined to make something of his life that had been spared.  So he applied and was rejected a 2nd time.  He set up an interview with an admission's officer to ask what he could do to get in.  When the University official saw him in a wheel chair with two damaged legs, a damaged arm, and a missing eye from having fought in Normandy - he gained admission almost instantly on the promise that he would work hard at his studies.

He fulfilled that promise, making the most of his dream at the University of Michigan by earning high marks.  He then went to the University of Northern Colorado to get his masters.  He was told that he would never make it as a teacher, having only 1 eye, as the kids would misbehave more...he says that never happened.  He regained use of his legs and arm - although not to the same extent as pre-war times.

He was of the rank Sergeant when he was wounded in Normandy, still suffers from occasional WWII related nightmares, and has received the "Legion of Honor" medal from France for his fighting from June 6 - 10, 1944.

Ed Tipper taught for over 30 years, he is faithfully married, and has a very successful daughter that is his pride and joy.    His memory is fading away as he enjoys retired life in Colorado.

If you have ever seen the mini-series Band of Brothers, Ed Tipper’s character is seen in the first 3 episodes.  He also features heavily in the documentary for the miniseries titled “We Stand Alone Together.”

Comments

Tater

June 10th, 2013 at 4:07 PM ^

This day in history, 1973: Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers RFK stadium.  Historic (to Deadheads, anyway) 70-minute encore set with GD and ABB members on stage together. 

macdaddy

June 10th, 2013 at 9:23 PM ^

Great story. I went to Normandy a few years ago with my Dad who grew up in the aftermath of the war. We toured the D-Day beaches, cemeteries and battlefields. It was an incredibly moving experience. All vets of all wars should be honored but pay special respect to those of WWII as their ranks continue to thin.

LB

June 11th, 2013 at 11:33 AM ^

I have known that story for some time, but had never known about the Michigan connection.

Not to pick nits, but you left the 'o' out of Toccoa.

Bronco648

June 11th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

He landed behind enemy lines and helped take out German positions that were firing onto Utah beach.

This would be Brecourt Manor. Lt. (at the time) Dick Winters' tactics are still taught at West Point. I visited Utah Beach and the surrounding area last November. As a student of History, it's hard to be there and wonder what things would have been like, today, without the Ed Tippers of the world. Thanks Ed.