A graduate of Ozark School in June of 1943, he joined the Marine Corps shortly before his 18th birthday. On his birthday, he was on a train headed for basic training.
Soon after two training camps, he and his companions were shipped to Guam where that island's invasion had begun two weeks earlier. Once Guam was secured, Tipton and his fellow soldiers trained for their next encounter with the Japanese. This time it would take place approximately 750 miles from the Japanese mainland. The place was called Iwo Jima.
"My division was held back in reserve because they believed it wouldn't be that hard to take it," Tipton said. "Three days later we were sent in to help take the place of all the wounded and dead."
This invasion began on February 19, 1945.
"Iwo was a much needed place for our crippled bombers to make necessary stops for repairs and fueling," Tipton said. "They had three airstrips that could be beneficial to the war effort."
The first airstrip had been taken before Tipton's division was sent in. They were instrumental in the taking of the second.
They tried a frontal assault but the Japanese were too heavily gunned. His field commander was shot in the first attempt and a young Lieutenant Sprote had to be put in charge. He maneuvered them around the back and they took it from behind.
Following nine days on the front lines, his division was pulled back for one day of rest and relaxation before they were once again called upon to make an assault. On February 27th they ran into a hard pocket of resistance. It was getting dark and they were ordered to pull back to a place that would be easier to defend for the night.
"A sergeant came to our division and told us that Lt. Sprote had been severely wounded and was unable to pull back with us. He asked for two volunteers to go back and get him."
Tipton and another young soldier volunteered for the duty. They slipped back through machine gun and mortar fire and hid in a shell hole.
"We called out to the lieutenant and he signaled his location," Tipton said. "We ran to him, each of us grabbing an arm and raced back to the hole. Sprote had been shot through the jaw and neck so he was able to help us run. As quick as things would settle back down, we'd pop out the other side of another hole and make our way to the next. All three of us made it back."
Tipton never saw or heard from Lt. Sprote again. He was put on a hospital ship and he assumes that he made it home. Once back Tipton noticed a hole had been shot through his pants. The bullet had left a black, greasy burn across his leg.
"I showed it to our commander and asked if he was going to put me in for a purple heart," Tipton recalled. "He laughed and told me, 'Wait a couple of days and we'll get you one.'"
At that time his company --which had started at around 250 to 300 men -- was down to just over 100.
On March 1, as they marched to battle, a sniper popped up from a foxhole they had passed and shot him.
"It was a glancing shot that hit the back of my helmet. It turned the bullet a little and went inside my helmet. It ran around my skull for a ways. It knocked me down. I thought I had been blown up, but the scout beside me was still standing there. He told me I'd been shot."
He was sent walking back to the aid station because they weren't sure when a medic would get there. Tipton was loaded onto a freighter and shipped back to Guam where he spent 30 days in a hospital.
"When you come that close to death and had to see so much of it you are very thankful to be alive," Tipton said. "The good Lord has given me 59 years to live and remember. If that hadn't been a glancing shot, I would have been one of the 6,000 marines that were killed on an island that was supposed to be easy to take."