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Interview with Herbert Baker, Jr. [Undated]

Travis Wilsey:

Herbert Baker, Junior. He lives at 308 Church Street. He was born December 12, 1923, New Harmony, Indiana. Okay. Were you drafted or did you enlist?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

I was drafted.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Where were you living at the time?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

In New Harmony.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Do you recall your first days in the service?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yes.

Travis Wilsey:

What did it feel like?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

It felt like you was in jail when you was in boot camp.

Travis Wilsey:

Tell me about your boot camp training experiences?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Well, you had what they called drill instructors that was really rough. They'd make you do anything and if you didn't do it, they'd kick your ass.

Travis Wilsey:

Do you remember your instructors?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

One of them's name was Kenny, I know that. I don't know what the other one's name was. They had two of them.

Travis Wilsey:

Which wars or war did you serve in?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

World War II.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Where exactly did you go?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Well, I went -- first, I started out at Camp Pendleton for my training, went to San Diego for my basic, for boot camp, and then Camp Pendleton for a little bit of training for shooting and stuff like that, and then we went to Hawaii for training to get ready to go to Hiroshima, then we went to Hiroshima. We come back from Hiroshima, we went to Japan and I was on garrison duty in Japan for, I don't know, a year or so, I guess.

Travis Wilsey:

Do you remember arriving and what it was like?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah. I remember arriving in Japan, yeah. I was on a detail to bring those guys back from the islands and deflea them and delouse them and stuff like that.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. What was your job assignment?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

I was in artillery. I was a forward observer in communications.

Travis Wilsey:

Did you see combat?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah, on Hiroshima.

Travis Wilsey:

Were there many casualties in your unit?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah, quite a few.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Can you tell me about your -- a couple of your most memorable experiences?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Well, the most miserable one I guess was when we landed on Hiroshima and dug in there and the sand was so hot it would scorch you when you sat down.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Were you a prisoner of war?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

No.

Travis Wilsey:

Were you awarded any medals or citations?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

No.

Travis Wilsey:

All right. How did you stay in touch with your family?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

By letter.

Travis Wilsey:

What was the food like?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Oh, it was fair, except when you was out on bed wax, when you was on bed wax you had K rations, they weren't worth a damn.

Travis Wilsey:

Did you have plenty of supplies?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah, plenty.

Travis Wilsey:

Did you feel pressure or stress?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

No, not really.

Travis Wilsey:

Was there something special you did for good luck?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Not that I know of. Tried to keep from getting shot.

Travis Wilsey:

How did people entertain themselves?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Oh, they played cards and things like that.

Travis Wilsey:

Were there any entertainers?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah. Yeah, some of the stars would come over and entertain us.

Travis Wilsey:

What did you do when you were on leave?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Oh, went to town, got drunk and fought with sailors.

Travis Wilsey:

Where did you travel while in the service?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Well, traveled to Japan. We went into -- we went to Hiroshima and then went to Nagasaki where we landed. That's where I worked there at Nagasaki.

Travis Wilsey:

All right. Do you recall any particular humorous or unusual events?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

No.

Travis Wilsey:

What did you think of your officers or fellow soldiers?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

They were real nice.

Travis Wilsey:

Did you keep a personal diary?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

No.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Do you recall the day your service ended?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

April. In what year? 19 what? 47.

Travis Wilsey:

Where were you when it ended?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

I was discharged in Chicago.

Travis Wilsey:

All right. What did you do the days and weeks afterwards?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Well, when I got home, I went to work. I went to work for Continental Oil Company.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Did you make close friendships while in the service?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah.

Travis Wilsey:

Did you continue any of those relationships?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah, some of them.

Travis Wilsey:

For how long?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Oh, for years, I guess. Up until now.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Did you experience -- did your military experience influence your thinking about the war?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

No.

Travis Wilsey:

Do you still attend the reunions sometimes?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

Yeah. I attend the 15th -- I mean the 50th reunion of the Fifth Division.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. How did your service and experiences affect your life?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

I don't guess it affected it any. I just don't like to talk about it.

Travis Wilsey:

Is there anything you would like to add that we have not covered in this interview?

Herbert Baker, Jr.:

No, none that I know of.

Travis Wilsey:

Okay. Thank you.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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