You Don't Mess With an English Major
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Nobody ever picked fights with David Webster. Just like nobody ever wrestled Dick Winters or tried to out-drink Lewis Nixon. Webster could take a hit, he didn’t cry, and he knew how to throw a few punches. But guys didn’t pick fights with David Webster because they were afraid of his fists—they didn’t pick fights with David Webster because he had a tongue like a saber and a scathing vocabulary that could leave a man bruised and humiliated for the rest of his life.

The first and last fight anyone picked with Webster was Saturday night, May 22, 1943.


Private Lester “Happy” Hapke from Fox Company was the unlucky bastard who deemed Webster much too dainty and passive to be a paratrooper. Webster, sitting in the far corner of the bar and writing in his journal, did the gentlemanly thing and ignored the rude, unsophisticated insults hurled at his manliness.

But when Happy, well into his cups and hurting for some action, decided to snatch away Webster’s journal and play Hot Potato with his cronies, Webster stood, capped his pen, and told Happy, “Give me back my journal, you pus-faced troglodyte, or you’ll be shitting your own teeth tomorrow.”


Those were fighting words, and every man in the bar, feeling a rumble coming on, got quiet and formed a wide circle around Happy and Webster.

Happy scoffed. “You ain’t shit, Pretty Boy.”

“I think you mean ‘are not’, unless your brain is as weak as your grasp of the English language.”

The crowd chuckled. Happy sputtered, his face growing red, and stepped forward in challenge. “You need ta watch yer fuckin’ mouth, bitch.”

Webster grimaced. “And you needed a bath last month. Is that meat spoiling in your trousers, or did your dick rot off after fucking your mother?”


Amidst a roar of laughter, Happy threw a wild, drunken punch at Webster’s face. He dodged it and allowed Happy to stumble into the crowd. Happy recovered and they circled each other slowly. The fight had started, and nearly everyone was cheering for Webster.

“I’m gonna knock yer fuckin’ block off, ya smartass,” Happy growled.

Webster smiled sweetly. “I’m waiting with bells on, you festering rectal wart.”

Another missed punch, another peal of laughter. It was like a bullfight, only the matador was in it just for laughs.

“Sonnova bitch!”

“Jism-belching cretin!”


“Bovine necrophiliac!”

The crowd was going ballistic.


Happy finally surprised Webster with a left hook to the jaw. Webster stumbled backward and was caught by a member of Dog. Webster never saw the guy’s face, but he heard him murmur, “Get him, Private. Don’t hold back,” before the helpful hands pushed him back into the circle.

Webster rubbed his aching jaw and sighed tiredly. “You ignorant cunt,” he muttered. The crowd went silent. “You contemptible pile of quivering human smegma. You think that striking another man makes you impervious? I beseech you, please demonstrate that violent, cowardly gesture again. I’m afraid I missed it the first time.”


Happy swung, but Webster caught his fist and whirled, trapping the intoxicated private in a painful arm lock. It wasn’t an easy technique; he’d only just learned it in Hand-to-Hand, but Webster had the advantage of sobriety over his opponent, facilitating an otherwise difficult maneuver. Happy, not so happy anymore, let out a yelp and fell to his knees, blubbering shamefully in front of his mates.

Webster leaned down and whispered gravely, “Still waters run deep. Remember that.” Then he released Happy with a disgusted shove.

The men cheered to Webster’s victory, patted his back, and bought him a drink.


“You should have hit him back,” said the man—a second lieutenant—from Dog.

Webster looked up from his journal, his jaw already faintly bruised. “I don’t fight with drunken idiots as a rule, sir. And that man was their king.”

The lieutenant smiled thinly. “You could have beaten him.”

“My journal could have beaten him—at least it has a spine.”

The man chuckled. “What’s your name, Private?”

“Webster, David K, sir.”

The lieutenant nodded slowly. “You would have made a fine officer, Webster.”

“Not I, sir,” Webster smirked. “The air up there is too thin for my liking.”

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