Lewis Nixon III was born in New York City, New York on 30 September 1918, the grandson of Tammany Hall leader Lewis Nixon I. He grew up in New York and Montecito, California, and he attended Yale University for two years. Nixon enlisted in the US Army on 14 January 1941, and he got married on 20 December 1941. After graduating from the Army Officer Candidate School as a Second Lieutenant, he volunteered for the US 506th Infantry Regiment, and he took part in Easy Company's training at Camp Toccoa before being stationed in England with the rest of his company.
While stationed in England, Nixon became an intelligence officer for 2nd Battalion, and he was moved up to regimental level after the Battle of Carentan in 1944. He never fired a shot during the war, but he was grazed by a German machine-gun bullet in the Netherlands. On 24 March 1945, his plane was shot down during Operation Varsity, and he was one of only four survivors; he became guilt-wracked and an alcoholic, always having a source of whiskey wherever he was. Nixon suffered from his drinking problem while stationed in Germany on occupation duty, and he was made operations officer of the battalion, being demoted. In the Berchtesgaden in Austria, he was able to take several bottles of stolen wine for himself. After the war, he remarried to a Japanese-American in 1956, and his good friend Richard Winters served as his best man. He turned his life around and became the owner of Nixon Nitration Works in Edison, New Jersey, and he died from diabetes in Los Angeles in 1995 at the age of 76.