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