And after then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in 1970, he was known as one of its most conservative jurists.
Compton was a first lieutenant in Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Army's 101st Airborne Division — one of the true-life characters who gained late-in-life renown when they were portrayed in "Band of Brothers," the 2001 HBO miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's 1992 bestseller.
Compton, who suffered a heart attack Jan. 11, died Saturday at his daughter Tracy's home in Burlington, Wash., said his family. He was 90.
After parachuting into Normandy during the early hours of D-day in June 1944, Compton was part of the assault group that destroyed the German artillery during the battle at Brecourt Manor. He fought at Carentan, participated in Operation Market Garden in Holland and helped defend Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Before the war was over, he had been awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart
"Not too many people knew about his military heroics until the miniseries," said Tracy Compton.
As her sister Syndee put it: "His career as a prosecutor and a judge overrode his military career until 'Band of Brothers' came out, and then it just went crazy. Then it became more about him being in the military rather than his being a judge or a prosecutor."
Syndee Compton said her father was surprised by suddenly being in the spotlight.
"I think it probably shocked all of them," she said. "I don't think any of them in their wildest dreams thought at 80 years of age they'd be getting this attention."
In the years after "Band of Brothers," Compton was asked to speak at local schools and at military bases in Germany and South Korea.
He also continued to receive fan mail from around the world.
His family estimated that nearly 400 people showed up in January for a 90th birthday celebration for Compton at the Skagit Regional Airport in Burlington, including children of other "Band of Brothers" veterans.
"All I can say is it's flattering — and kind of embarrassing," the Skagit Valley Herald reported Compton as saying. "We didn't expect anything more than those other guys [in the war]. We're celebrating longevity more than anything."
The crowd included four actors from "Band of Brothers": Michael Cudlitz, James Madio, Richard Speight Jr. and Neal McDonough, who portrayed Compton in the miniseries.
McDonough recalled meeting with Compton in Burlington the day before he flew to London to begin filming "Band of Brothers" and later peppering him with "phone calls at all hours" with more questions about his time during the war.
"When you play a historical figure, you have to do it right and tell the truth," McDonough told The Times this week, recalling that Compton would tell him, "I didn't really do anything; I was just doing my job."
"He'd say that's what soldiers do," said McDonough, who kept in touch with Compton and nicknamed his 6-year-old son Morgan "Little Buck" in his honor. "He did extraordinary things in his life and never took credit for it."