Saving Private Webster: A Review of Parachute Infantry by David Kenyon Webster (Part 4 of 4)

Webster was wounded in Holland and writes about it with a certain humor:

Martin, another man, and I ran toward the hedge to open fire. We had only gone a few feet when a German machine gun fired a short burst at us. A two hundred pound man swung a baseball bat and drove a spike clean through my leg. The force of the blow spun me around and knocked me down. ‘They got me,’ I cried. What a cliche I thought as I lay on the ground. ‘They got me.’ I’ve been seeing too many movies.

Because of this wound, Webster missed the Battle of Bastonge, and he returned to Easy Company several months afterwards.

One of the more interesting details in Webster’s memoir is about how Private Hoobler actually died. This is a very dramatic scene in the HBO Series Band of Brothers. Hoobler is showing everyone the Lugar he got from killing a German officer. He accidentally shoots himself with the Lugar and bleeds to death. This is all true. In the series, one of the medics, Doc Roe, highly thought of by the men, comes running but can’t save Hoobler, who bleeds to death. But that isn’t what happened.

Upon his return, Webster asks about Hoobler, who was a friend. Writes Webster: “And Hoobler. Where’s Hoobler?” Someone tells him Hoobler is dead. “…McCreary told me how he (Hoobler) had died while the medic was off looting the dead. They wanted to shoot the medic when they caught him…” To read this is to understand why so many World War Two combat veterans have said the real war will never be in the history books. The medic in question, was not “Doc Roe”, who is prominently featured in the HBO Series and highly thought of by the men both in reality and in the series.

While Webster himself never says it, and probably would never had said it, he was a brave soldier. On David Kenyon Webster’s website, Burton P. Christenson, fellow soldier, wrote:

I watched a man during the peak of one of our most epic struggles with the Germans. We had fought for twelve hours. The enemy fire was showing on our nerves. The men were done in. The look of death showed in the faces of the living. The men of the first platoon were trying to blend into anything that made them inconspicuous. Tension mounted. Then far up ahead at the closest point to the enemy, standing erect, stood Dave Webster, shouting to the Germans to surrender. And as they sheepishly passed this hunk of a man, going to the end of their war, the first platoon again moved forward.

It is a tragedy that Webster did not live to see the extraordinary HBO series Band of Brothers in which he is featured in almost every episode but also that he never saw his memoirs become so widely read and admired.

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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