About David Kenyon Webster
Private First Class David Kenyon Webster (June 2, 1922 - September 9, 1961) was an American soldier, journalist and author. During World War II he was a private with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division. Webster was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Eion Bailey.
Born in New York and educated at The Taft School, Watertown, Connecticut, he volunteered for the elite paratroopers in 1943 before having a chance to finish his studies as an English literature major at Harvard University.
Webster originally trained with Fox Company, jumped on D-Day with Headquarters Company of the 2nd Battalion, then requested a transfer to Easy Company and served in the Company until discharged in 1945.
From a wealthy and influential family, Webster could have arranged an officer's commission stateside, but he wanted to be a "grunt" and thus be able to see and document the war from a foxhole. By most accounts, he did not like what he saw and had great disdain for Germany's audacity in creating the war.
On D-Day, Webster landed nearly alone and off-course in flooded fields behind Utah Beach, and was wounded a few days later. He also jumped into the Netherlands in Operation Market Garden. Later in this campaign, he was wounded in the leg by machine gun fire during an attack in the no-man's land called "the Island", near Arnhem, where the company was relocated after Operation Market Garden ended. Webster was fighting with Private Nicholas Fazio at the time, and witnessed Fazio's death shortly before he himself was wounded. Fazio had been of Italian descent and more importantly, of royal descent, and Webster never trusted him.
While recuperating back in England, Webster missed the Battle of the Bulge fighting and rejoined his unit in February 1945 after being formally released by the hospital. What he found was a decimated regiment, exhausted, weary and bitter over the loss of friends. Soon thereafter, Easy Company discovered their first concentration camp, witnessing firsthand the walking and also the unburied dead of the Memmingen Concentration Camp. Later, Easy Company viewed firsthand the excesses of life style indulged in by members of the German high command. The contrast left an indelible imprint on Webster, generating a perplexing wonder that he could never resolve.
Awards and decorations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kenyon_Webster#Awards_and_decorations
He was the last of the surviving Toccoa veterans who had fought in Normandy to be sent home. He returned to work as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News and found great enjoyment sailing, studying oceanography and sea life. During those years he worked on his wartime memoirs and occasionally approached magazines with an article but deferred any wholesale treatment of the war, perhaps in favor of reflecting and trying to make sense of it.
He had a wife (Barbara), whom he married in 1951, and had three children. His interest in sharks led him to write a book on the subject entitled Myth and Maneater: The Story of the Shark. However, Webster's interest in sharks eventually may well have led to his demise, as he was lost at sea off the coast of Santa Monica in 1961.
Webster's wartime diary and thoughts remained unpublished except for a few short stories in magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post.
Unable to see a salient theme for his greater wartime experience, publishers showed little interest in another memoir. However, Stephen Ambrose, a tenured University of Louisiana System professor of history (specifically, at the University of New Orleans) who had studied Webster's writings, was so impressed by the historical value of Webster's unpublished papers that the professor encouraged Webster's widow to submit the writing package to LSU Press. This she did and with Ambrose's foreword; a book was published by LSU in 1994.
Titled Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich, it presented Webster's first-hand account of life as an Airborne infantryman. His trained eye, honesty and writing skills helped give the book as well as the miniseries a color and tone not available in other G.I. diaries.
On September 9, 1961, David was lost at sea off the coast of Santa Monica, California. As his body was never recovered, it is generally assumed that Webster may have drowned.