Gordon and his light machine gun platoon were dropped off target just like most of those jumping into southern France to launch Operation Dragoon. Attached to the 1st Battalion, they engaged with the enemy while searching for their rally point objective where they were expected to gather. The first half of the commendation below outlines the movements of Sgt. Lippman and his team during this action in France. The second half references his actions one month later during the Battle of the Bulge. Gordon, my cousin, was 19 years old as the actions below began to unfold.

“On 15 Aug. 1944, the combat team jumped in southern France and was badly scattered over a huge area. Sgt. Lippman assembled the men in his stick, and headed for the Battalion objective; enroute, Sgt. Lippman’s group encountered a German patrol and immediately opened fire. In the ensuing fire fight, his group received no casualties and reported they killed three of the enemy. As Sgt. Lippman’s orders were to get to the objective, he ordered his group to move on and he and two men stayed in position while the rest of the group moved to safety; then, he and the men rejoined the group.

While continuing on to the objective, the group encountered Major Fraser, the 1st Battalion Executive Officer, who had assembled a group of approximately forty men from the 1st Battalion. Sgt. Lippman, was then ordered to join forces with Major Fraser, to position his machine guns and prepare to defend the 2nd Battalion Objective. The 2nd Battalion had been dropped about twenty miles from their DZ and would not be able to reach their objective at the proper time. The group joined forces and helped defend the objective successfully for two days under heavy artillery fire. The 2nd Battalion arrived and (then) the entire group under Major Fraser joined the 1st Battalion.

From 27 Sept to 1 Nov, 1944, the 1st Battalion occupied defensive positions at Col De Braus, in southern France, at which time the light machine platoon occupied forward positions and during the entire stay, under intense artillery fire, they had to remain constantly on the alert against infiltrating German patrols. This worked an extreme hardship on Sgt. Lippman, who was constructing dugouts and rotating men to rest areas in the rear. His constant supervision kept casualties to a minimum, and he clearly showed his willingness to put his men’s safety and welfare before everything else.

Across the field, fighting Germans on another line, 2nd Battalion pushed through to join with the 1st Battalion as Germans began amassing their forces on the outskirts of Les Arcs for an all-out counterattack. The 3rd Battalion completed a 40-km forced march to help consolidate the regiment. The team attacked all assigned German positions, clearing the way for an Allied beach assault with additional teams pushing toward the north.

517th PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment) losses included 19 killed, 126 combat wounded and 137 non-combat related injured.

Effective German opposition within the airhead had ceased through D+3, or D-Day plus three days.

Tec. Sgt. Gordon J. Lippman has been a member of Hq. Co. 1st. Bn. since the regiment was organized, and has distinguished himself in every action. His courage as light machine gun platoon Sgt., and platoon leader during combat in Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany, has been outstanding.

(…during Battle of the Bulge) “The Battalion was ordered to attack at once and clear the road from Soy to Hotton, and also to clear Hotton. Half of the town was held by MP’s and cooks from the Third Armored Division, and the other half by the Germans. The first attempt to clear this road failed. The Battalion CO then decided that Company B, of the 1st Battalion, would continue the attack to Hotton and he (Col. “Wild” Bill Boyle), the Battalion Commander, would take Company A, mounted on tanks and halftracks, and try to get into Hotton from a rear route.

“The machine gun platoon was attached to Company A for this action and as the Platoon Leader was absent, Sgt. Lippman commanded the Platoon. Company A managed to get into Hotton and attack toward Soy. Sgt. Lippman and six machine gunners were with the attacking platoon. They cleared part of the town. Sgt. Lippman then set his machine gunners in the captured buildings and held for the rest of the night.

“The next day, Company B cleared the road from Soy and joined Company A in Hotton. The town was in our hands. Hotton was under heavy enemy shelling and small arms fire during the attack, all of which took place at night. Throughout this operation and the others mentioned (earlier), Sgt. Lippman has shown an extremely high sense of dedication to duty, and clearly exhibited his ability to command troops in combat.

“It is the firm belief of the undersigned, that Technical Sergeant Lippman has demonstrated his ability to command both in garrison and actual combat, under fire, as cited in the above-mentioned instances. Technical Sergeant Lippman is considered worthy of a commission from the standpoint of value to the service in future assignments.”

/s/ Lamar A. Tavoian, Captain, 517 P.I.R, Commanding”

Next Up: USO History

Leave a Reply