|The Breaking Point|
The capture of Foy
"The Breaking Point" is the 7th Episode of Band of Brothers. It is seen from the point of view of 1st Sgt. C. Carwood Lipton as he watches as several men near the breaking point in the Ardennes. Lipton is also the narrator.
The company is still stuck in Bastogne and is succumbing to the cold harsh winter. Despite this, things are looking up! They are due to take the town of Foy and finally be done with the dreaded winter. There is just one problem: Lieutenant Norman Dike. He's never around, is incompetent and never knows what to do. With no real commander to lead them, First Sergeant Lipton must do everything he can to keep the company strong, but what will they do when the fateful day comes that Dike leads them into battle?
The episode begins on January 2, 1945 in the Ardennes Forest at the town of Foy, where 1st Sergeant C. Carwood Lipton, 1st Lieutenant Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, and Staff Sergeant William J. "Wild Bill" Guarnere are reading a map on Staff Sergeant Donald G. "Malark" Malarkey's back. When Malarkey raises himself up with the map, Compton is joking and is saying that he will nail the map on his head, and Guarnere is assembling the 2nd Platoon.
On the next day, January 3, a German SS Officer is riding on a horse, when he's ambushed by Donald Hoobler, Pvt. Lester "Les" Hashey, and Sergeant Burton P. "Pat" Christenson. The SS Officer tries to gallop away, but Hoobler shoots him in the head with his M1 Garand. Hoobler searches the body, and finally finds a Luger Pistol, which has been Hoobler's ultimate goal all the way since he joined the Airborne.
After the incident, Hoobler tells everyone that he found one, including Lipton and Sergeant Darrell C. "Shifty" Powers. Powers was digging a foxhole when Hoobler says he might be a better shooter than Powers, who says that he is a bad shooter but says that his father was an excellent shot who could shoot off the wings of a fly. After the conversation, Hoobler was going to test his new souvenir. Lipton and Powers are joined by Compton and Malarkey. Compton wants to know where Easy Company's CO, 1st Lieutenant Norman S. Dike, Jr. is.
Lipton can't answer exactly, because no one knows where he ever goes. Lipton then says that two men were wounded. Then, a shot is heard, and Lipton, Compton, Malarkey, and Powers get down into Powers' foxhole. Then Hashey arrives and says that Hoobler has shot himself.
The men go to his foxhole to help but are unable to find the wound, and Hoobler ends up dying (the bullet affected an artery in his leg). Lipton tells Captain Winters about the incident because the replacement officer, Lt. Dike, is no where to be found.
Winters that night talks to his pal Captain Lewis Nixon about who could replace Dike, understanding that Dike is not a good leader because he is never around and never really bonds with the men. After comparing the officers they realize that one is too strict, one isn't very good ("God bless him" as Winters says), leading to them to realize the only real choice is Compton as he is a good combat leader. But they're stuck with Dike regardless.
It then shifts to Dike asking Lipton where he is from, which leads to an awkward conversation between the pair. It ends up with Dike leaving Lipton in mid-sentence. In the morning, we see Frank Perconte, Pat Christenson, and Harold Webb discussing about what Lt. Speirs did in Normandy and how he gunned down some German POW's, after offering them cigarettes. Speirs himself appears and tries to convince the men that the foxhole they've dug isn't good enough, but they say Dike said it was good enough. He then offers them a cigarette, and the men's faces show horror because of the story about the POW's.
Easy returns to the front line in the forest just outside of Foy. As they dig new foxholes and strengthen the existing ones, they are bombarded several times. A shell hits very close to Joe Toye, and he loses half of his right leg. Bill Guarnere, rushes out and begins to drag Toye to safety when a shell explodes near both of them, causing Guarnere to lose his right leg as well. As Compton approaches both men, he suddenly has trouble calling for a medic; the shock of the situation has become Compton's "breaking point," and he is taken off the front line. The worst shelling takes place at night and sees the deaths of Corporal Penkala and Sgt. Skip Muck, a moment witnessed by George Luz. A shell also lands in Luz and Lipton's foxhole, but doesn't explode. Lipton is so shaken up by it that he takes a cigarette from Luz even though he doesn't smoke. Much and Penkala were good friends of Don Malarkey who becomes saddened by their deaths. To boost his mood a bit, Lipton gives Malarkey Hoob's Luger for his brother.
Lipton is later seen smoking which he has never done before, demonstrating that even Lipton is suffering from the war. He says to Winters that the attack of Foy they are going to carry out the next day will result in lots of good men getting killed if Dike isn't replaced. All Winters can say is that they're stuck with him.
The next day, the men prepare to attack. Winters runs through the plan with Dike and tells him he's relying on him. Dike says "clear" and signals he understands. As Winters gets up, Dike yawns quite calmly just sitting in a small foxhole.
The attack begins with the men running down the open field. Lipton tells his men to move fast and to keep doing so until they reach the town. Dike runs much slower and tells Shames to keep it tight. Foley breaks off with 1st Platoon to clear out a small shack. Because he isn't going fast enough, Dike assumes Foley has disbanded from him and is going against orders. Dike stops in the middle of open territory telling radioman George Luz to get Foley on the radio. Dike has all of Easy Company to stop advancing much to Winters dislike. Lipton orders 2nd Squad to do so and tells them to find cover. Dike doesn't realize he isn't in cover until a shell nearly blows him up. He runs to cover with Luz.
He tells Foley over the radio to get back to where he can see him. Foley does so, bringing a runner. Lipton also goes to where Dike has taken cover, asking what the hell are they doing. Winters radios in to Luz to tell him to get Dike on the radio. Foley arrives just as we see from Dike's perspective that he is panicking under all the stress of the battle. Obviously not thinking, Dike tells Foley to take just 1st Platoon on a flanking mission despite the fact they will have little adequate cover and will be cut off from the company. Dike shouts against the men's pleas to continue advancing forward, saying to Foley everyone else will provide suppressing fire when they can.
While running back, Foley's runner is gunned down by a sniper. Winters is in utter disbelief. Foley tells the men what Dike wants them to do. They begin to advance only for them to be pinned down by a sniper.
Realizing Dike is losing it, Winters runs out of the treeline to take his place but is stopped by Colonel Sink because he is battalion XO. Realizing he isn't allowed, Winters brushes off Sink and shouts for Speirs and tells him to relieve Dike and take over.
As Speirs runs down, the men realize they are losing as they can't move because of Dike and 1st Platoon are being slowly picked off by the sniper. Speirs arrives, relieves the shell-shocked Dike and takes over. He asks Lipton how the battle is going. Lipton replies that first platoon is trying a flanking mission but are stretched out because of a sniper; he thinks the sniper is in the building with the caved-in roof.
Speirs tells Lipton he wants the building to be blasted by grenades and mortars until it's gone; when it is gone, 1st Squad should head straight in, not go around and for everyone else to follow him. Lipton replies "Yes sir" and smiles at George Luz, thankful that a good commander is leading them now.
The sniper is taken down by a mortar and the men quickly enter Foy and push through fast. They get halfway through but are faced with a dilemma. I company is on the other side and is being attacked by armour, meaning they'll slip away from the others. Spiers runs out alone to get to the company despite it being suicidal to do so since the whole road is full of Germans. Lipton narrates that the Germans didn't shoot because they were shocked at what they were seeing but the most remarkable thing about what Spiers did wasn't that he went to I company, but that he came back.
The men celebrate their victory by singing in front of a tank while being filmed. Their celebration is cut short, however, by another sniper who appears from a building and shoots at the soldiers. The majority make it to cover in time. Lipton locates the sniper and runs out as bait so that Shifty can take him out. They succeed and continue to celebrate.
Fast-forward to a night in a church where the men are listening to a choir. Lipton explains that the men were under the impression that they were being relieved and would be heading back to Mourmelon the next day. However, the plans changed and they would instead be on their way to the town of Haguenau to help hold the line. Lipton spends much of the night making up a roster of the men remaining. Out of the 145 they went into Bastogne with, only 63 are left. Lipton imagines seeing every man sitting in the church with all the casualties fading away as the camera moves through the church.
Speirs, now officially in charge of the company, approaches Lipton and begins to talk about the recent events. Lipton says the men are just thankful to have a good leader again but Speirs surprises him by saying they already had a good leader, someone who stuck by them and kept their spirits up during the worsts times and was a good man to have around. Lipton doesn't understand who he means, leading to Speirs to tell Lipton that he is that man. Speirs also tells him that Winters put in a battle field commission for Lipton, and Sink approved it. Speirs reveals to him he has been promoted; "Congratulations...Lieutenant."
The episode ends with the men boarding the trucks heading for Haguenau. Luz sees the men from First Battalion and sarcastically thanks them for using Easy's foxholes as toilets. Lipton shares a smoke with the men as the episode ends.
Casualties and Deaths
- German Officer
- Corporal Donald B. Hoobler (KIA)
- StSgt. Joseph J. Toye (WIA)
- StSgt. William Guarnere (WIA)
- Sgt. Warren H. Muck (KIA)
- PFC. Alex M. Penkala Jr. (KIA)
- Several German Soldiers: Killed in Battle for Foy.
- Several American Soldiers: Killed in Battle for Foy.