In Memory of
Army Private First Class
Havard H. Baker
Custer, South Dakota
Custer County
December 6, 1916 – May 13, 1945
Killed in Action on Okinawa

Fallen Sons Memorial horizontal rule

Havard H. Baker was born at Kiowa, Kansas, on December 6, 1916, to J.A. and Ruth Baker. He was the fifth born of his brothers and sisters. Havard graduated from high school in Kingman, Kansas, in 1938. He later moved to Custer, South Dakota, where he was the supply sergeant at Camp Custer for a number of years.  He married Evelyn Bristol on November 18, 1939, at Broadus, Montana. They had two children: Ruth Ann and Roy Dale. Before he entered the service, Havard worked in the defense industry in California but then returned to Custer from where he enlisted.

On September 28, 1944, Havard Baker entered active service at Ft. Snelling. He trained for seventeen weeks as a rifleman at Camp Hood, Texas. He was then transferred to Fort Ord, California, as a part of Company G, of the 383rd Regiment of the 96th Division. He went overseas on February 23, 1945, and arrived at Pearl Harbor and from there went to Saipan, and then was sent into battle at Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands.

On May 13, 1945, Pfc. Havard Baker was killed in action at Okinawa. He was buried at M 231 at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for “heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military or naval operations against an enemy of the United States.”  A buddy who was in the same battle and was injured later wrote to Havard’s wife: 

The first night we were in combat we stood guard together. Guard one hour,
sleep two or rather rest, as we didn’t get much sleep. The  following day we
spent in advancing and that night the Nips made a daring counter attack, but
were driven back. We continued advancing the next two days, and on the
morning of the 13th word came to be ready to push at seven. It was then 5, and
Havard and I went down to get our rations. We ate them in our foxhole and at 7
were ready to go with the rest of our outfit.  That day out squad was to push. I
was the first scout so was ahead of Havard a short ways. We just got started when
the mortar shells began to fall like hail. Our squad leader and other fellows came
where I was and set up a firing line. We were lying in small dugouts and trenches,
which the Japs had been driven out of a short time before. The shells were still
falling like hail and one hit in their hole. Havard and Hedrick were both killed
instantly. This has been a hard letter for me to write. Your husband was a man
you can be very proud of. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful buddy.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Zeth Lackey, 8th Grade, Edgemont Public Schools, Edgemont, South Dakota, and was revised by Sheila Hansen, Fallen Sons State Coordinator, Spearfish, SD. Information for this entry was provided by Ruth Baker, Denver, Colorado, daughter of Havard Baker, newspaper clippings, and an application for a SD veteran’s bonus payment.