Lewis Nixon (United States Army officer)
Captain Lewis Nixon
|Nickname(s)||Blackbeard, Lew, Nix|
September 30, 1918|
New York City, New York
|Died||January 11, 1995
Los Angeles, California
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1941-1945|
|Unit||Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division|
Lewis Nixon III (September 30, 1918 – January 11, 1995) was a United States Army officer who served 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.
Lewis Nixon was born to Stanhope Wood Nixon and Doris Ryer Nixon on September 30, 1918 in New York City. He was the older brother of Blanche Nixon (born 1923) and Fletcher Ryer Nixon (who died in infancy in 1922). 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. 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 for two years.
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), and showed enough skill at his job to be moved up to the regimental level 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 three miles to Utah Beach and passed the information up the chain of command, who was to send the first two tanks to reach Utah Beach to support the paratroopers. He developed a drinking problem, and was eventually removed from his regimental position and assigned back down to the 2nd Battalion as the operations officer (S-3), where he continued to display skill at planning and operations, but did not have to deal with the politics and high visibility that existed 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.
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. Nixon's plane took a direct hit after he and three others got out. He is also one of a very few men in the 101st to earn three Combat Jump Stars on his Jump Wings.
He is known and remembered for his love of the blended whisky Vat 69. This is commemorated several times in the book and miniseries Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. Nixon was also remembered as always having a source of whisky no matter where the company was.
After the war, Nixon worked at the family-owned Nixon Nitration Works in Edison (then Raritan Township), New Jersey alongside his father, Stanhope. Wartime friend Richard Winters was offered a job by Nixon and eventually became a personnel manager at the firm. After World War II, the plastics industry evolved from nitrate-based products to acetate-based products, and the company failed to make the transition. In 1951, as the company downsized, it gave 48 acres (190,000 m2) of land, and a dam, to the City of New Brunswick.
Nixon had two failed marriages before marrying his last wife, Grace, in 1956. 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
|Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and arrowhead device|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|Army of Occupation Medal|
|Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster|
|Croix de guerre|
|Belgian World War II Service Medal|
|Combat Infantryman Badge|
|Parachutist Badge with 3 combat jump stars|
- Social Security Death Index record
- "Died" New York Times. 1922-05-23.
- "Young Nixon Wins Yachting Honors" New York Times. 1926-05-23.
- Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 13
- WWII Army Enlistment Records: on-line NARA Archival Database
- "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 ...
- Ambrose 1992, p. 103
- History Channel Documentary "The Battle at Brécourt Manor"
- Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 240
- Ambrose 1992, p. 270
- Winters & Kingseed 2006, pp. 220–221
- Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 205
- Ambrose 1992, p. 245
- Winters & Kingseed 2006, p. 252
- Winters & Kingseed 2006, pp. 275–277
- Winters & Kingseed 2006, pp. 256–258
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6411-6.
- Winters, Major Dick; Kingseed, Cole C. (2006). Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters. Berkley Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-425-20813-7.