Blackbeard, Lew, Nix
Years of service
September 30, 1918 (age 76) New York City, New York (
World War IIBattle of NormandyOperation Market GardenBattle of the BulgeOperation Varsity
American Campaign Medal Purple Heart World War II Victory Medal Bronze StarPresidential Unit Citation European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal (3) American Defense Service Medal Army of Occupation Medal Croix de Guerre Belgian World War II Service Medal Combat Infantryman Badge Parachutist Badge (3 Combat Jump Stars)
January 11, 1995 (aged 76) Los Angeles, California, US
captain Lewis Nixon III (September 30, 1918 – January 11, 1995) was a United States Army officer who, during World War II, served at the company, battalion, and regimental level with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. 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 a grandson of shipbuilder Lewis Nixon I (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.
Nixon served during World War II. He was selected (inducted) into the United States Army on January 14, 1941 in Trenton, New Jersey. After graduating from Army Officer Candidate School in 1941 as an infantry second lieutenant, he volunteered for the parachute infantry, part of the U.S. Army's fledgling airborne forces. He was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (506th PIR), commanded by Colonel Robert Sink. The 506th was initially an independent regiment until June 1943, when it became part of the 101st Airborne Division. He went through the regimental unit training and pre-airborne training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, and Airborne School at Fort Benning, eventually training at many locations throughout the United States and, in September 1943, was sent to Aldbourne, Wiltshire, England, in preparation for the Allied invasion of Normandy.
Nixon was appointed as the 2nd Battalion intelligence officer (S2), and showed enough skill at his job to be moved up to the regimental level as the 506th S2, 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 during the war. However, in the Netherlands he was hit by a stray bullet from a German MG 42 machine gun. The bullet went through his helmet, but only grazed his forehead and left a small burn mark. He developed a drinking problem, and was eventually removed and assigned back down to the 2nd Battalion as the operations officer (S3), 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 European 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 Major General Maxwell Taylor, the Commanding General (CG) of the 101st, to be an observer with Major General William Miley's 17th Airborne Division during Operation Varsity, the airborne crossing of the river Rhine. Nixon's plane took a direct hit and only he and three others got out. He is also one of very few men in the 101st to earn three Combat Jump Stars on his Jump Wings.
Nixon ended World War II 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.
He is known and remembered for his love of the blended whisky Vat 69. This is commemorated several times both in the book and miniseries Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose. Lewis Nixon was also remembered as always having a source of whisky no matter where the company was.
On December 20, 1941, Nixon married Katharine Page of Phoenix, Arizona. Nixon had several failed marriages; he married his last wife, Grace Umezawa, in 1956. She had been a student in California in the spring of 1942 when the President ordered the internment of Japanese Americans. Richard Winters served as the best man at the wedding. Nixon got his life back together and overcame his alcoholism during their marriage. They had no children.
Later Years and death
After the war, Nixon worked at the family-owned Nixon Nitration Works in Edison (then Raritan Township), New Jersey alongside his father, Stanhope. Lewis Nixon died of complications from diabetes in Los Angeles, California, on January 11, 1995. Dick Winters gave the eulogy at the request of Nixon's wife Grace.