Community Heroes: Local 100-year-old WWII veteran recalls service with General Patton

Community Heroes

(WJHL) — Very few World War II veterans are still alive to tell their stories. This week’s Community Hero is a local veteran, born in Cobb’s Creek near Butler. He earned many medals and honors for his service, but now enjoys retirement and living in what he calls, “The Hills” of Doeville.

Joe Lipford always seems to have a smile on his face, even when talking about his time serving in World War II.

“Yeah, I’ve got a lot of stories, but I just don’t tell ’em,” Lipford said.

He served in the 894th tank destroyer battalion, supporting the infantry and a certain general by the name of Patton.

“He said, ‘Boys, company, I’m going to go out and see if I can draw some fire,'” Lipford said of Patton. “He didn’t ask nobody to go out there. He had a 50-caliber machine gun on his tank, an open tank, and a 30. Yeah, he was something.”

Something, until his tank was hit.

“We shot at one right in front of us and was trying to get it to go in reverse to back over a little knob, and another German tank got us on the side,” Lipford said. “Set it on fire, and I was burned all over the face and hands.”

Lipford recovered and finished his tour. He was discharged and moved north with his wife. Then, he came home.

“Retired up there and came back to the hills. Got out of the rat race,” Lipford said.

Lipford may have retired, but not before earning a Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, three Bronze Battle Stars, the American Defense Service Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, European-African and Middle Eastern Theater ribbons and the Lapel button.

At 100 years old, he enjoys life in the hills.

“He’s so sharp. Still working in his garden, working on his father’s tractor in his garage,” said Lisa Cook, a member at Lipford’s church. “It’s just amazing.”

To nominate someone for our Community Heroes segment, click here.

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