Paul Fussell was born on March 22, l924, in Pasadena, California, the son of a successful corporate lawyer. On May 6, 1943, he was a student at Pomona College when he was called to active duty. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in May, 1944 . Now a 2nd Lieutenant, he was assigned to the 103rd Infantry Division, 410th Infantry Regiment, in command of the second platoon of Company F.
In the fall of l944 Fussell and his unit arrived in Marseille and in late October or early November, arrived at Epinal, in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. He spend the next six months on the line at a time when the average life expectancy for a junior officer there was just 17 days. In late November, in the fighting around the German-held town of Nothalten, Fussell's company lost four of its 6 officers. His platoon went from 40 to 27 men.
During the Battle of the Bulge, Fussell's division and others in the 7th Army were sent north to fill the space left by the 3rd Army as it sped to Bastogne. From mid December to mid January l945, his unit held a thinly defended line near Sarrequemines. On January 1, 1945, with the temperature nearing twenty below zero, Fussell survived a major German attack all along American lines in Alsace.
On March 15, 1945 the 7th Army launched a massive attack on German positions in Alsace. Fussell's division was in the lead, and his unit was assigned to take the town of Gundershoffen. In the afternoon, the Germans began shelling the area around the town, and Fussell was seriously wounded.
Fussell spent three months recovering from his injury in a hospital at Epinal. In July he was transferred to Company E, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division in Mering, Germany and was expecting to be sent to the invasion of Japan. He was in a training camp with his new unit in Rheims when he heard the news of the atomic bomb and the Japanese surrender.
He returned to the United States, completed college and then a PhD in English, married and raised a family, and became a celebrated literary and cultural critic. His memoir of his experiences in the war, Doing Battle, was published in 1996.