PFC Edward J. Tipper was a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, 506 PIR, assigned to Easy Company. He was featured in the HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. He was a personal friend of fellow soldier and translator, Joe Liebgott.
Tipper was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1921 to an Irish couple. The family moved back to Ireland when Tipper was three years old, but they returned to the United States later. Tipper graduated from school in 1939 in Detroit and worked at a department store.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tipper signed up for the Marine Corps but was rejected because his teeth could not bite together. He, therefore, volunteered for the paratroopers. He was sent to Toccoa, Georgia and was assigned to Easy Company for training under Captain Herbert Sobel. During the training in Camp Mackall, Tipper was made Sobel's runner. With his help, Sobel was able to mislay his maps, compass, and other items when he most needed them. Tipper received further training with Easy Company in Aldbourne, United Kingdom. During a training exercise, Sobel got lost and Tipper and Sgt. Evans tried to help him figure out their position. A voice then addressed Sobel ordering him to cut the fence and move on. Tipper realized from the start that it was Sergeant George Luz playing a prank but convinced Sobel it was Major Horton. Sobel proceeded to cut the fence, which let a herd of cows loose onto the base.
Tipper made his first combat jump into Normandy on D-Day, where he met with fellow Easy Company member Frank Mellet and some other paratroopers and engaged in a firefight with a German patrol. Later, he and the men attacked the Marmion Farm. Some other Easy Company members, including Floyd Talbert, Forrest Guth, and Walter Gordon, were also involved in the attack, albeit with another group of American soldiers. The soldiers held the place before joining their own units.
Tipper fought in Carentan: after clearing a house, a mortar shell exploded near him when he was standing in the doorway. His right eye was destroyed and his legs were severely burned. Joseph Liebgott, a fellow Easy Company member, was the first one to reach him and attended to him; Liebgott and Harry Welsh then dragged Tipper to a nearby aid station. Tipper was sent to a hospital in England, where his right eye was removed. He was then sent back to the United States.
Several months after the attack, Tipper visited good friend Floyd Talbert's family. Talbert told his family that the visitor could only be someone else because he thought Tipper must have died from his injury in Carentan. Tipper was discharged on August 1945 after one year in Army hospitals. At first, Tipper needed to walk with a cane and wore an eye patch. Tipper remembered how everybody would want to do something to show support for the returning veterans: for instance, someone would pay his bill for him at a restaurant, or there would be no bill at all.
Tipper attended the University of Michigan and completed his master's degree in English at the University of Northern Colorado, and became a teacher. In 1961 he won the John Hay Fellowship. When Tipper was sixty-one, he met with Rosie (who was then thirty-four) and they were married despite strong opposition on February 12, 1983. Their daughter, Kerry, was born ten months later. Ed passed away Feb. 1, 2017.