In Memory of
Staff Sergeant
Fred W. T. Baker
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Minnehaha County
July 1, 1921-September 1, 1944
Killed in Action in France

Fred W. T. Baker

Fred William Theodore Baker was the son of Neal and Kathryn Baker.  He was born in Rock Valley, Iowa on July 1, 1921.  He had three sisters, Mrs. Paul Davis, Mrs. Duane Johnston, and Mrs. P. A. Elofson.  At the age of two, he and his family moved to Volga, South Dakota.  Fred was confirmed in the Lutheran faith at the Volga Lutheran Church and received most of his academic education from the Volga Public Schools.  In 1937 the family moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where Fred attended Washington High School for a short time.

In January 1939, Baker enlisted in the U.S. Army and started his training at Ft. Meade, South Dakota.  On November 18, 1939, Private Fred W. T. Baker accidentally severed a tendon in his left thumb while on duty in the kitchen.  Private Baker later wrote a letter home that stated, ďReceived your card and was glad to hear from you.  My hand is much better, so donít worry about it.Ē  After his hand healed, he was shipped to various camps around the United States.  He was last stationed at Camp Gordon, Georgia.  In July 1944, he arrived in England and his rank was moved to Staff Sergeant.   Before he was sent overseas, Baker wrote home telling about his squadron.

They are going to mechanize the second squadron in the near future.  Thatís the squadron I am in.  There are two squadrons in this regiment:  1st and 2nd, the 1st is to remain a horse outfit.  I am glad it was us being mechanized instead of they.  We will be driving scout cars and motorcycles instead of horses.  You donít have to groom a cycle like you do a horse either.

Sergeant Baker served in the army from January 14, 1939 until September 1, 1944.  He was killed in action in Thionville, France, at one of the enemyís ďmost heavily fortified and important bastionsĒ.  The regiment led a raid into this area and caused vast destruction of the enemy forces.  Bakerís platoon was attempting to capture a strategically important bridge that the enemy was trying to destroy.  Although the Americans were successful, there were several fatalities.  Sergeant Fred W. T. Baker was one of the Americans who did not return from this raid.  He was killed while trying to rescue his wounded leader.

Baker second from left

Baker second from left

Sergeant Baker was buried in the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial in France.  Fred W.T. Baker was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.  Kathryn Baker received notice of Staff Sergeant Fred W.T. Bakerís Silver Star award and this citation read as follows:

For gallantry in action on 1 September 1944 in ***.  Staff Sergeant Baker was on an advance reconnaissance mission with his platoon which was attempting to capture a bridge that the enemy was trying to destroy.  On receiving word that his platoon commander, who was across the bridge, was seriously injured, Staff Sergeant Baker drove across in his vehicle, dismounted in utter disregard for his own personal safety, to assist the commander, and take charge of the platoon.  While so engaged Staff Sergeant Baker was shot and mortally wounded.  Staff Sergeant Bakerís display of courage was an inspiration to all around him and was in keeping with the highest military traditions. 

Staff Sergeant Fred W. T. Baker was an outstanding man and soldier.  He will be remembered always for his selflessness and American pride.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Brandee Soles, 12th grade, Sioux Falls Christian High School, Sioux Falls, SD, April 1, 2002.  Information from this entry was provided by Dorothy Wheeler, sister of Staff Sergeant Fred W.T. Baker.