David Kenyon Webster

Don Malarkey once said, “It’s ironic that Webster, the Harvard grad, could spin a sentence like nobody’s business; he was forever writing home, regaling relatives with story after story. But you ask me whom I’d want in a foxhole with me—or, for that matter, back home, sharing a beer and a burger with me at the Liberty Grill—and I’ll pick Joe Toye every damn time over a guy like Webster. You know why? Because he was always thinking beyond himself, that’s why.”

Don also shared this in his book, “Easy Company Soldier”, “Occasionally, in war, there’d be the guy who was happy to get hit; the Harvard man David Kenyon Webster, when having a bullet go cleanly through his leg in Holland, somehow had the presence of mind—and the Hollywood flare—to yell, “They got me!” He later said so himself. Said he’d gotten his wish: a million-dollar wound that would force him out of action. Funny, though, while Webster was back getting pampered by some sweetie-pie nurse in England, Eugene Jackson was dug in with us here at Bastogne—and had been with us in Holland—after nearly having had his ear ripped off by a mortar in Normandy. Different soldiers, you quickly learned, had different pain thresholds.”

Clancy Lyall told a story and said how he and another man were manning a machine gun atop a dike in Holland. They were running out of ammunition and Webster was at the base of the dike. Webster was supposed to be supplying their ammunition, so Lyall called down from to bring some up. Webster wouldn’t do it as he didn’t want to leave his foxhole. Clancy pulled a grenade off his belt (he didn’t pull the pin) but he threw the grenade down, so it landed in Webster’s foxhole. He said Webster scrambled out and brought the ammunition up that they needed.

These quotes and memories paint an image of David Webster. Let’s find out more.


David Kenyon Webster, born on June 2, 1922, in Bronx, New York. His schooling comprised of three years at the Taft School in Connecticut and concluded with two years at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Following his years at Harvard, he volunteered for the U.S. Army. He made a jump at Fort Benning and completed training at Camp Mackall and Camp Shanks. He spent three years in 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, during World War II. Webster joined in 1942 and participated in many of the major battles of the European Theatre, including the D-Day landings in Normandy, and the Battle of Bloody Gulch in Normandy during which he was wounded.

Webster’s experiences were immortalised in the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” with actor Eion Bailey portraying him. The series, based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s book, traced Easy Company’s training at Camp Toccoa through the end of World War II.David Kenyon Webster originally trained in Fox Company as well as D Company. He transferred to Easy Company after D-Day. He was the focus for the episode The Last Patrol.

Webster participated and was wounded in Operation Overlord on 6 June 1944. He was evacuated but later requested to be transferred to Easy Company, in order to see more action. Webster returned to duty for Operation Market Garden on 17 September and witnessed the death of his best friend, at Nuenen. He later heard news of another best friend, at Bastogne. He grew cynical about the war and wrote to his mother to ‘not worry if he got killed’.

Webster participated in the assault on “The Island” (Episode “Crossroads”) on 5 October. He assisted in rounding up several prisoners, suffered a leg wound from machine gun fire and was again evacuated. He was absent for the battles at Bastogne and Foy but returned to his unit at Hagenau in February 1945. He wrote of how glad he was to be back among his friends. While he had experienced some griping from the men of 2nd and 3rd, Websters primary concerns were how the men in 1st perceived him.  

There was a transformation in Webster towards the later end of the war. It was marked by a deepening hatred for the Germans, particularly intensified after witnessing the horrors of a concentration camp during the liberation of Landsberg. His memoir, “Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper’s Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich,” published posthumously in 1994, offered a firsthand account of his challenges and experiences alongside his comrades.

Webster participated in the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and returned to the U.S. after the war ended. After the European Theatre of Operations ended, he was 4 points short of the 85 needed to go home and was to be deployed with the rest of Easy Company to Japan; fortunately, Japan surrendered before redeployment occurred and Webster was returned to the US and discharged. He couldn’t understand why anyone could stay in the Army.

Post War

In post-war life, Webster resumed his education at Harvard, worked for publications like the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Daily News, and became a family man with three children. His interests diversified, culminating in the authorship of a book on sharks, “Myth and Man eater.”

After the war, Webster wrote a memoir titled “Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper’s Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich,” which was published posthumously in 1994. The book provides a firsthand account of his experiences in Easy Company and the challenges faced by the paratroopers during the war. The original version of the book also used pseudonyms for almost all of his fellow paratroopers.  This is why Major Winters didn’t recognise his name in the book when approached about it. 

Tragically, on September 9, 1961, while studying sharks off the coast of Santa Monica, California, Webster was lost at sea and presumed dead, leaving behind a legacy of bravery, resilience, and a unique perspective on the harrowing experiences of Easy Company during World War II.

David Webster

When I talked to Joe Muccia, veteran, author & historian, about David Webster, this is what he had to say.

Joe told me of a conversation with Wild Bill who said, “You asked about David Webster. He was indeed as he says…a ‘gold brick,’ good education, not like most of us kids…no education, or schooling. Was indeed a fine writer, not much liked by the men of Easy Co. I got along fine with him. Each one of us was different.”

Joe also spoke with Bill True who served in F Company with Webster. When Joe asked him about his experiences with Webster Bill True said, “Webster had never been unfriendly or hostile to any of the other men, but he was always a bit aloof and only slowly warmed to others. My clearest picture of him would always be the way he meticulously donned pyjamas every night when in barracks at Toccoa, while the rest of the men slept in their skivvy shorts or in the raw. Dave endured a good deal of ribbing for this before everyone finally accepted it as a minor idiosyncrasy. Eventually, nearly all came to admire his determined habits and character…even those who had originally been most critical. I was quite sure that I would never have had the guts to wear those PJs in the face of humiliating criticism as Dave did.”

Burton “Pat” Christenson liked Web a lot and they remained friends well after the war. He  said “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.”

Pat Christensons remembrance of Webster is however, directly opposite to that of Clancys memories from the Crossroads fight. While Pat liked Webster and remained long-time friends with him, Clancy served with Webster in both the LMG platoon, 2nd Battalion and Easy. Clancy knew him better than any other man of Easy. This alone demonstrates that judgements and memories have the potential to be clouded by friendship.

Stephen Ambrose talked of Webster in the introduction for his book “Parachute Infantry” and said, “For my part, I never had the privilege of meeting David Kenyon Webster, but I admire him without stint. He was a good soldier and a wonderful writer, one of those brave thousands of American combat infantrymen who helped win the war and thus preserve our freedom, and one of those very few with the talent and energy to write about the war in a way to help those of us who came later to understand it.”

Everyone had a differing opinion of David Webster through his time in the war.  There was a complexity to him that no one seemed to understand. Memories of those who knew him differ which begs the question, ‘who was David Webster, really?’  It is one of those questions we will never know the answer to, one we can only make a reserved judgement on from information that we have.

In conclusion, David Kenyon Webster’s life and contributions leave an indelible mark on both the pages of history and on those who have come to know his story. From his daring experiences as a paratrooper during World War II to his poignant reflections in his posthumously published memoir, Webster’s journey exemplifies the resilience, courage, and complexity inherent in the human spirit. His vivid narratives provide a window into the harsh realities of war, shedding light on the sacrifices made by individuals who faced the chaos of combat. As we reflect on Webster’s legacy, let us not only honour his memory but also recognise the profound impact he has had on our understanding of the human experience during one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Through his words and deeds, David Kenyon Webster invites us to contemplate the enduring lessons of courage, camaraderie, and the pursuit of truth, ensuring that his legacy continues to inspire generations to come.