Lewis Nixon (United States Army officer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Lewis Nixon (U.S. Army officer))
Jump to: navigation, search
Lewis Nixon
Cpt Lewis Nixon.jpg
Captain Lewis Nixon
Nickname(s) Blackbeard, Lew, Nix
Born (1918-09-30)September 30, 1918
New York City, New York
Died January 11, 1995(1995-01-11) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 1941-1945
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Unit Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
Battles/wars
Awards
Relations

Lewis Nixon III (September 30, 1918 – January 11, 1995)[1] was a commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. Nixon was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Ron Livingston.

Youth[edit]

Lewis Nixon was born to Stanhope Wood Nixon and Doris Ryer Nixon on September 30, 1918 in New York City. He was the elder brother of Blanche Nixon (born 1923) and Fletcher Ryer Nixon (who died in infancy in 1922).[2] He was a grandson of shipbuilder Lewis Nixon (1861–1940) and Sally Wood Nixon (died 1937). At age seven, Lewis took third place in the model yacht regatta at Conservatory Lake in Central Park on May 22, 1926, earning a gold and bronze medal in the 35-inch (890 mm) boat class.[3] As a youth, Nixon lived in New York City and Montecito, California; he traveled the world extensively, including Germany, France, and England. Nixon graduated from the Santa Barbara school before attending Yale University[4] for two years.[5]

He enlisted in the army on January 14, 1941 in Trenton, New Jersey.[5] On December 20, 1941, he married Katharine Page of Phoenix, Arizona.[6]

Military service[edit]

After graduating from Army Officer Candidate School in 1941 as a second lieutenant, Nixon made the decision to join the paratroopers. He was assigned to Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Nixon went through the regimental unit training and pre-airborne training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, eventually training at many locations throughout the United States and England for the invasion of France.

Nixon was appointed as the 2nd Battalion intelligence officer (S-2),[7] and showed enough skill at his job to be moved up to the regimental level as 506th Infantry S-2, shortly after Easy Company fought in the Battle of Carentan on June 12, 1944. He served in Normandy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, though he never fired a shot. However, in the Netherlands he was hit by a stray bullet from a German MG-42 machine gun. The bullet went through Nixon's helmet, but only grazed his forehead and left a small burn mark. His most notable contribution to the war effort occurred shortly after the Brécourt Manor Assault, when (then) Lt. Richard Winters handed Nixon a map showing the locations of all German artillery and machine gun positions throughout that area of the Cotentin Peninsula. Nixon, realizing this to be an essential piece of intelligence, ran the 3 miles to Utah Beach and passed the information up the chain of command. Command was so thrilled with the information provided by Nixon and Winters that it sent the first two tanks to reach Utah Beach to support the paratroopers.[8] He developed a drinking problem,[9] and was eventually removed and assigned back down to the 2nd Battalion as the operations officer (S-3), where he continued to display his skill at planning and operations, but did not have to deal with the politics and high visibility at the regimental level. In Berchtesgaden, he had first choice of a captured, extensive wine collection originally assembled at Hermann Göring's orders, comprising bottles which were stolen from wineries across France and other occupied territories.[10][11]

Nixon was one of the few men of the 101st Airborne to jump with another division or regiment. On March 24, 1945, Nixon was assigned by General Maxwell Taylor as an observer with the 17th Airborne Division on Operation Varsity.[12] Nixon's plane took a direct hit after he and three others got out.[13] He is also one of a very few men in the 101st to earn three Combat Jump Stars on his Jump Wings.[12]

He ended the war with the rank of captain and did not fire a single shot in combat. He saw the defeat of Germany, and returned home in September 1945.[14]

He is known and remembered for his love of the blended whisky Vat 69.[15] This is commemorated several times in the book and miniseries Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. Lewis Nixon was also remembered as always having a source of whisky no matter where the company was.

Later years[edit]

After the war, Nixon worked at the family-owned Nixon Nitration Works in Edison (then Raritan Township), New Jersey alongside his father, Stanhope. Stanhope had his share of vices as well. Wartime friend Richard Winters was offered a job by Nixon and eventually became a personnel manager at the firm.[16] After World War II, the plastics industry evolved from nitrate-based products to acetate-based products, and the company failed to make the transition.[16] In 1951, as the company downsized, it gave 48 acres (190,000 m2) of land, and a dam, to the City of New Brunswick.[16]

Nixon had two failed marriages before marrying his last wife, Grace, in 1956.[15] He got his life back together and overcame his alcoholism during their marriage.[15]

Lewis Nixon died of complications from diabetes in Los Angeles, California, on January 11, 1995.

Nixon, New Jersey, is now a section of Edison Township; it is located in Middlesex County, New Jersey. The former site of the Nixon Nitration Works lies beneath Middlesex County College and Raritan Center Industrial Park.

Medals and decorations[edit]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal
American Defense Service ribbon.svg American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
Arrowhead
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and arrowhead device
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG Croix de guerre
Belgian World War II Service Medal
Combat Infantry Badge.svg Combat Infantryman Badge
Cbtabn-3.jpg Parachutist Badge with 3 combat jump stars

References[edit]

  1. ^ Social Security Death Index record
  2. ^ "Died" New York Times. 1922-05-23.
  3. ^ "Young Nixon Wins Yachting Honors" New York Times. 1926-05-23.
  4. ^ Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 13
  5. ^ a b WWII Army Enlistment Records: on-line NARA Archival Database
  6. ^ "Katharine Page's Marriage". New York Times. December 21, 1941. Retrieved 2010-03-22. "Miss Katharine Page, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Hickok Page of Phoenix, Ariz., was married yesterday in the Municipal Building to Lewis Nixon 3rd, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stanhope W. Nixon of this city, and grandson of the late Lewis Nixon, naval designer. The bride was attended by her ..." 
  7. ^ Ambrose 1992, p. 103
  8. ^ History Channel Documentary "The Battle at Brécourt Manor"
  9. ^ Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 240
  10. ^ Ambrose 1992, p. 270
  11. ^ Winters & Kingseed 2006, pp. 220–221
  12. ^ a b Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 205
  13. ^ Ambrose 1992, p. 245
  14. ^ Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 252
  15. ^ a b c Winters & Kingseed 2006, pp. 275–277
  16. ^ a b c Winters & Kingseed 2006, pp. 256–258

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]