Alexander F. Lippitt was born on 11 March 1896 and was a native of Providence, Rhode Island. He graduated from Moses Brown School in 1914. He was the son of Rhode Island Governor Charles and Margaret Lippitt. He was the fourth child of six children; the first three children Charles, Alexander and Jeanie died of scarlet fever within one week of each other in December 1893. His two younger brothers Charles and Gorton also fought in World War I with the 26th “Yankee Division” in France. Alexander entered Rhode Island State College in September 1914 where he participated in the Army ROTC program during his freshman year. In September 1916, he enrolled in Harvard University for one year.
When the United States entered World War I, Alexander Lippitt, like so many of his contemporaries, left college and entered the US Army in August 1917. He was commissioned as a First Lieutenant of Infantry and immediately deployed to France. 1LT Lippitt was assigned as an infantry platoon leader, Company I, 166th Infantry Regiment, 42d Infantry (Rainbow) Division. He was involved in combat operations throughout his assignment, at all times leading from the front, reconnoitering enemy positions and leading counter attacks against the enemy. During the period 15 July through 1 August 1918, 1LT Lippitt led numerous counter attacks against the enemy; and he fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire as he led his soldiers to vigorously engage the enemy. 1LT Lippitt was severely wounded in combat on 1 August 1918 at Fere-en-Tardenois, France. He was evacuated to the United States where he died from his wounds at the military hospital in Cape May, New Jersey on 6 October 1918. For Extraordinary Heroism in Action, First Lieutenant Alexander Farnum Lippitt was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Citation – Distinguished Service Cross
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to first Lieutenant Alexander F. Lippitt, U.S. Army, 42d Infantry (Rainbow) Division, for extraordinary heroism in action near the Champagne sector, north of Chalons, France, 15 July 1918. During a powerful enemy attack, Lieutenant Lippitt led his platoon through heavy artillery and machine-gun fire in a counterattack against the enemy, which gained a foothold in our line. The enemy was repulsed and the line reestablished. He assisted in the reorganization and defense of the position against two enemy assaults. The gallantry of this officer was a great aid to his command at a time of unusual danger. He was mortally wounded a few days later while advancing to an attack.
1LT Lippitt was buried, with full military honors in his family plot at Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island. First Lieutenant Alexander Farnum Lippitt was a son of Rhode Island who answered the call to service during World War I and gave his life in service to our country. He is a true Rhode Island and American Hero.