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Interview with Ralph E. Baker [Undated]

Unidentified speaker:

You feel comfortable when you lean forward? Is it --

Ralph E. Baker:

No. I just did lean over.

Unidentified speaker:

I can -- I can accommodate whatever you -- how you feel comfortable.

Unidentified speaker:

What he's trying to do, he's trying to alleviate the -- the -- the glare off your glasses.

Ralph E. Baker:

Want me to take them -- well, I guess it wouldn't do no good to take them off.

Unidentified speaker:

Do you feel comfortable without them on?

Ralph E. Baker:

Does it look like -- you know --

Unidentified speaker:

What do you think?

Ralph E. Baker:

I always wear my glasses.

Unidentified speaker:

Is that better?

Unidentified speaker:

Better.

Unidentified speaker:

Do you feel comfortable with them off?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah. Don't bother me.

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah? You feel comfortable? Good. Should I just lay them right here?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, put them -- put in --

Unidentified speaker:

Then you'll have a bulge. Here, here. Give them to us.

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh.

Unidentified speaker:

That way -- there you go.

Ralph E. Baker:

In here.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Thank you.

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, I've got another pair of glasses in there.

Unidentified speaker:

Another pair?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. That's sunglasses.

Unidentified speaker:

Come down a little bit.

Ralph E. Baker:

This documentary, I was noticing this morning, it won a couple of awards out in Hollywood.

Unidentified speaker:

It did?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Of course, I -- I'm not too good of an interview because I throw people curves, I think. I'm not --

Unidentified speaker:

Well, you're not going to be throwing us any curves because the questions I'm going -- you're just going to tell me about you --

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, well.

Unidentified speaker:

-- is basically what you're going to tell me, and -- let me see here.

Ralph E. Baker:

But do you work out of Wilmington?

Unidentified speaker:

Yep.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Want to do some sound?

Unidentified speaker:

I'm good.

Unidentified speaker:

You're good?

Unidentified speaker:

Mm-hmm.

Unidentified speaker:

You're going to look at me, talk to me. And you've been through these interview things before.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

You're not going to hear my quest -- when it's a finished product, nobody's going to hear my question. They're just going to hear your answer, so you've got to be -- when I ask you a question like where -- where were you born, you've got to say, "I was born on" -- whatever day, whatever year. "I was born at" -- wherever. That kind of -- so people know what you're -- what you're actually --

Ralph E. Baker:

Two blocks from here.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Two blocks. Okay. That's me upstate.

Ralph E. Baker:

Is that right?

Unidentified speaker:

Yep. Born and raised up there. I'm probably fifth generation up there. Okay. Ready?

Unidentified speaker:

Mm-hmm.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Just first thing, just for the record, for the editing purposes, let me have your full name and then spell your last name.

Ralph E. Baker:

Ralph E. Baker. B-A-K-E-R.

Unidentified speaker:

How's it sound? Good?

Unidentified speaker:

Swing the microphone a little more over here.

Ralph E. Baker:

I've got a bad cold.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Now, the first is a series, and you can tell them in sort of a story: when you were born, where you were born, who your mother and father were, what they did, and then if you had any brothers or sisters.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, I've got all of that.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay.

Ralph E. Baker:

I was born 213 West Seventh Street, two blocks from here, to Myrtle and Glenn Baker in 1919, July 16, 1919, on my mother's birthday. I have two brothers and two sisters. All of us were in the service. Not the sisters, the brothers. And you want the names of those people?

Unidentified speaker:

Sure, if you want to.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, my oldest brother is Arthur. My next brother was Marshall, and I was the baby boy, Ralph. Georgia Lee Cannon, she lives in Del Mar. And my sister just died at 92, down in Bethel.

Unidentified speaker:

So you're the baby?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. My sister.

Unidentified speaker:

You're the baby of the boys?

Ralph E. Baker:

Baby boy. Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. What -- so you were born in -- give me the -- because when you say "two blocks from here," people aren't going to know where it is.

Ralph E. Baker:

213 West Seventh Street. It's right up the hill here.

Unidentified speaker:

No. The name. Meaning they're not going to know whether it's Dover, they're not going to know --

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, in Laurel.

Unidentified speaker:

Laurel?

Ralph E. Baker:

Mm-hmm.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. So say that again, one more time.

Ralph E. Baker:

213 West Seventh Street in Laurel, Delaware.

Unidentified speaker:

There you go. Okay. December 7, 1941, which is Pearl Harbor Day. Do you remember that day?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yep.

Unidentified speaker:

And do you remember where you were and what happened?

Ralph E. Baker:

I was living in Bethel. And my brother had already gone in the service, and -- but -- I was working the DuPont Company at that time. That's about it really. There was -- I wasn't doing anything special, just sitting, listening to the news.

Unidentified speaker:

Did -- after Pearl Harbor, what -- what went on? What was special? What did you do? What were you thinking about? What was going on around here?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, I just got drafted, see. I got drafted -- well, that was December 7. I got drafted the next summer. Of course now, my brother had already gone into service. And two weeks after I went, my third brother went. So I didn't notice -- after the war started, I didn't notice any difference or anything stuck out in my mind as, you know, I didn't go through any ration stamps or anything like that.

Unidentified speaker:

How about the plant down here? Was it pick up --

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, the plant was there, but I left -- I was working at the plant when I left.

Unidentified speaker:

Had they -- had they developed ny -- they had developed nylon at the time?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, oh, yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

When did they develop nylon there?

Ralph E. Baker:

I think it was '39.

Unidentified speaker:

'39?

Ralph E. Baker:

Carothers in Wilmington did it. The boys did it. But it was in production then and -- well, the plant was built in '39, wasn't it? I think I went there in '41.

Unidentified speaker:

Because ex-Governor Peters -- Russell Peterson, apparently he was in charge of one of the projects for the war where they made the nylon -- I forget what they call them. The cords that actually have the parachutes?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Unidentified speaker:

That they developed here?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Of course, most of it went into clothing and stockings and stuff, but then it went -- of course it was parachutes. But you know, that was a different --

Unidentified speaker:

So when you joined, tell me -- tell me a little story from when you joined to where you -- you know, you went, and you got drafted. You went down and signed up. Then where did you go after that for boot camp and then --

Ralph E. Baker:

Left here, went to -- hmm. New Jersey. Fort Dix, New Jersey. All of us went to the same place, everybody from Laurel, this area, because that was the second Army assembly area for recruits and stuff. But everybody around here went the same place. And went from there to Camp Pickett, Virginia, for basic training. And of course left Pickett. I went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Remember the 77th Infantry Division. It was on old New York outfit, but I stayed with it from then till I was discharged, but --

Unidentified speaker:

What did you learn at Fort -- Fort Jackson?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, I was -- at Pickett, I became a medic. It was just medical training, see. Anatomy and physiology and all of that stuff. But then we were -- then we were sent to Fort Jackson to join the 77th Division, which became our [inaudible] outfit, see. And I stayed with them till I was discharged in '45.

Unidentified speaker:

Did -- what kind of training did you have as a medic? Is it almost today's, like, EMTs or EMTBs or --

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, yeah. It was just like, you know, first aid and a little bit technical stuff like pharmacology or whatever. But it was nothing that we ever used. See, you don't use all that stuff. This training, I don't think makes any difference. I think you can take a guy off the street and he can do the same thing I did, but -- But I say, we went through a basic training, which is --

Unidentified speaker:

So when did you get your orders, and where did you leave from to go overseas, and then where did you go when you first got overseas?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, I left here, went to Hawaii, and then we were -- for our first battle was in Guam. That was the first piece of American territory taken back from the Japanese. Now, in 1994, I went back there for a 50th reunion. I was made an honorary member of the VFW in Guam. My -- all my papers and books about VFW. They made me a life member out there. But of course we stayed there till the campaign was over.

Unidentified speaker:

Where did you -- I'm assuming when they went on, on Guam, they did it just like they would -- I mean, they went on a landing craft, some --

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm.

Unidentified speaker:

So where did you -- where did you ship out from? Did you know you were going to Guam?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

Where did you ship out from to go to Guam?

Ralph E. Baker:

Hawaii.

Unidentified speaker:

So everybody loaded up?

Ralph E. Baker:

In Hawaii, yeah. And they --

Unidentified speaker:

Did you know the day before, or did you go on the beach at night? Did you go on the beach in the morn --

Ralph E. Baker:

No. They told us -- they told us on the way to Guam. No. We went -- in fact, when we got off the ship, we had to walk about 200 miles -- 200 yards on coral. The landing craft couldn't get to the beach. It was too shallow, coral. So we -- but that's where we started. August 2, 1944. That's where I seen my first man shot, a boy from Springfield, Virginia. He's just -- he's still living. He was my first casualty. August 2, 1944. And he came over and spent the weekend with me when I got the camp named after me down here in Bethany Beach. And I say he's still -- my first casualty of World War II and my last casualty of World War II are still living, both of them. That's how good a doctor I was.

Unidentified speaker:

They should really call you Dr. Baker then?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Why, sure.

Unidentified speaker:

Doc.

Ralph E. Baker:

I know about as much about it as the doctor does, you know. He don't know either. He's just guessing.

Unidentified speaker:

Did -- when you were load -- now, did you go on any LSDs or the single --

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

You loaded down from the ships?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. No. When -- they were just landing craft that they --

Unidentified speaker:

That you went over in?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. Oh, no. We went over on the ship. I've got the name of it in my book there. I've got a book tells every move I made every day. It's in my stuff. But no. We got off on landing craft. Just a small boat.

Unidentified speaker:

I think your wife must have it. She might have it, I think.

Ralph E. Baker:

Day 2 --

Unidentified speaker:

Oh, no. Here it is. Here, I've got your book. Right here. In this book?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. No. It's another book. It's home.

Unidentified speaker:

Oh, okay.

Ralph E. Baker:

But anyhow --

Unidentified speaker:

So you went to Guam.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

You get off. Now you're going ashore. On a landing craft?

Ralph E. Baker:

I was -- and we were in the first wave. And for the first wave on any beach, you get an arrowhead. It's on my ribbons there. And we were there until that was over.

Unidentified speaker:

Well, how did you feel when you were -- did you have any thought process going on as you were landed into the -- as you were jumping into the --

Ralph E. Baker:

No.

Unidentified speaker:

Were you scared?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. You never get scared. Or you're constantly scared because see, when you're in battle, you take -- your morale is not either high or low. You get used to an ordinary day. You get up in the morning. Of course, half the time, you don't have enough to eat, but -- and you fight all day. But you're only fighting because the guy next to you is fighting, see. This is all they do for the morale of the troops; don't do -- I never spent a day where I thought anybody back here gave a damn whether I was over there or not. Which they don't. And which they don't have time to. They've got to go on with their life. But I don't worry about the boys in Iraq, you know. They're just victim of circumstances. They got stuck. They got -- well, they joined the Guard, thought they wouldn't have to go overseas, see. It was a way to evade the draft or evade service. They all did that. So they got stuck, you know. Them and their wife were in there for a weekend. But the war started and they got stuck, so --

Unidentified speaker:

I feel that same way. I -- that's my comment about it, too.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. But I mean, I got in the Guard after I came out of the Army because I thought I was worth something to them, but I wasn't. I mean, you couldn't teach them anything. All they -- when they -- when I enlisted in the Guard, the major said -- I was supposed to get a commission, and that's why I went. But he said that was no longer in effect. Well, I said, "Hell. I can be a good private as you can be a major, you know." So I joined that way. But all the ranks in the -- National Guard were the junior varsity football team, you know, the kids in school. They tell you, "If you join the Guard, I can give you a rank, and you get this." Well, now when they join, what do they get? $6,000 for college, all those things, all those benefits. We didn't get nothing like that. So --

Unidentified speaker:

That's all new, too, because when I went in, I was in the Navy and then I went into the Guard, the 198th up in Wilmington.

Ralph E. Baker:

You did?

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. And we got nothing. But I did get a rank, though, out of it. I did get a rank.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well --

Unidentified speaker:

And I had no clue what the hell I was doing, because I was in the Army. I had been in the Navy. I had no idea that you had to wear your cap inside. We never wore our cap inside in the Navy.

Ralph E. Baker:

But no. I said I thought I could do a little bit of good, you know, teaching some -- but they didn't want that. They just -- see, they were making up these outfits. The majors and colonels that come out of the Army, you know, it was a good way to make a living. It is. I make very good pension, you know. But who was your commanding officer?

Unidentified speaker:

I forget. This was back in the '70s. I forget who was up. We were in the 198th assault helicopter --

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, wow. You're an Air Guard?

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. No, no, no, no, no. It was Army. But it was assault helicopters, the Hueys.

Ralph E. Baker:

Assault [audible].

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. Yes, yes, yes.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. He's my --

Unidentified speaker:

Yes.

Ralph E. Baker:

I raised all them guys, see. Of course -- well, hell. I'm 85, you know. Most of them are --

Unidentified speaker:

Well, my dad and a whole -- my dad started out in the 198th during the war, during World War II. That whole gang that was at University of Delaware?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

And then ended up over in Bora Bora?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

And then stayed -- my dad stayed till about probably '55.

Ralph E. Baker:

What was his name?

Unidentified speaker:

John Healey.

Ralph E. Baker:

I think --

Unidentified speaker:

Contractor.

Ralph E. Baker:

I think I recall him. Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

But my Uncle George Kelly, who became a colonel. Frank Lynch, General Lynch.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

Bud Haggerty.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

All those guys. They were on that 198th up in Wilmington.

Ralph E. Baker:

Do you remember Warren Perry?

Unidentified speaker:

Yes.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, his boy Roger, he lives over at Georgetown. For -- while I was down the beach there a couple weeks ago, I gave him a 1914 field manual for how to be a soldier, you know. I thought I told Roger. I said, "You keep this 14 more years, and you'll -- or 10 more years, and you'll have a hundred-year-old document." There's a picture in that magazine of me giving Roger a pair of that -- see. But that's what I liked about it. I've got a lot of friends in the Guard. Of course, I'm not the type of person, though, that would -- you know, I don't push for nothing. I've got a lot of stuff, you know, coming to me, but I was never one for trampling all over everybody to get a rank or something like that. What I liked to do when I was in the Guard was go to school. I went to every school -- intelligence school, cook school, meat school, everything. I went to every kind of school they had. And I don't see why kids don't do that today. You get some damn good training, really. You know.

Unidentified speaker:

Did -- tell me about -- so now we're in Guam. We've just hit the beach.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

You've basically treated your first casualty.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

Tell me what went on after that, on Guam.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, there's not too much because we weren't there that long. What sticks in your mind is something -- Just like I was talking to a guy a couple days ago was in Guam. He was telling me about a place called Barrigada. We went there to get water. There was a water point. See, we hadn't had any water since we left the ship. But I had three guys wounded right there. Mor-da-sick(sp?) was shot through the chest. John Cook was shot in the groin. And Really(sp?), a guy named Really, had his leg broke. So what in the hell do you do with that? See, you can't do nothing. I remember the guy with -- had the -- shot in the groin, you couldn't keep a bandage on it. So anyhow, I started walking back. We just had to leave them, see. Now, this Mor-da-sick(sp?) said to me. He said, "Baker, don't pay no attention to me." He said, "I can breathe." But he was. He was shot clear through the body, you know. But you know, that'll stick in your mind and --

Unidentified speaker:

Did they live?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. Cook died. And Really got killed later. And I don't know what happened to Mor-da-sick(sp?). He was in heavy weapons. He had the big 50-caliber machine guns. I don't know what happened -- I don't -- I could look because I've got it on my piece of paper in there. I've got the name of everybody that was killed. But I know Cook, we never got him. But I -- I thought, "Hell, there ain't no -- me staying here." You know, I couldn't do nothing. I had to go back and get stretchers or get somebody with stretchers to come up there. So I got out in the road and started walking down the road. I thought to hell with it. There ain't no need to run. They can shoot me just the same walkin'. And I got where the colonel's bodyguard was standing. Well, he looked -- well, I could have kissed him, you know. But he was standing there, and great big -- tall, bearded guy. He was a guy -- he was a Guard in a bank up in Boston. I could have kissed him. I said, "You're the prettiest thing I've seen lately." And hell, what's his name? I've got his name in my head. But that's the things you think about, see. And walking across that field that morning, the next morning, I guess these casualties had been picked up, a grave registration. A boy walked up to me, and he said, "Baker," he said, "I like what you're doing." He said, "Could I get in the medics?" And I said, "Yeah, I'm sure." Because we lost, I think -- we had 36 men to start with. I think we lost eight that first day. So this boy did. He got in the medics. And he was a -- he had a child he never seen, and -- well, he got killed in the next island we went to, Ormoc, but he -- he taught me more about religion. But Hubert Schecter, and he'd studied to be a rabbi before the war. So every time we'd sit down, he'd teach me about religion, from atheism to Zoroasterism, from A to Z. He was good like that. But when we got to Ormoc, he got killed. And he got shot in the back, walking ahead of me, but -- he got killed in Imelda Marcos's hometown, you know, the woman that had so many shoes.

Unidentified speaker:

Would you like some water?

Ralph E. Baker:

No.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay.

Ralph E. Baker:

I just don't talk -- well, I've got a cold, I think.

Unidentified speaker:

That's okay. I've got some water. You want some water? A little sip?

Ralph E. Baker:

I've had pneumonia. I run out of wind, you know, but -- But that was about all that happened on Guam. I mean after Barrigada. Well, we did. We went to -- we went on up to -- we were going from Barrigada, we were going to Yigo. That's a town right up past it.

Unidentified speaker:

Now, were you on the same island?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. On Guam. Now, there's a girl -- a Brit down here has a restaurant. His wife's from Yigo. So I -- I had a casualty got shot; casualty's leg was shot out. And I was working on him. And I called a friend of mine to come help me. And he didn't. So a man stopped and helped me. And I put these casualties on a litter Jeep. We had a Jeep that carried four or five stretchers. And we come to a fork in the road. Well, when you come to a fork in the road, you say, "What the hell? Which way do I go?" So I told the Jeep driver, I said, "I'm getting off." He said, "What in the hell do you mean you're getting off out here?" So I jumped off and went down the other road. But I was right. He was going -- he was going to a field hospital, and I was going to catch up with my men. And -- well, our men. Whatever. So I said to this friend of mine, I said, "Why didn't you come and help me?" And he said, "Don't you ever call me at a time like that again." You know, that was the oddest thing I ever heard. Hell, I wouldn't have called him if I hadn't needed him. But at this place, at Yigo, a colonel of mine was up ahead of us. And this boy said, "You know, if he'd get out of the way, I could see where that fire's coming from." But that colonel got shot in both legs. I don't know how bad. But the next morning, he come walking down the road. And I had a boy in Pittsburgh got shot in the behind. So I got up on a tank, pulling him up, and my friends were pushing him from the back. So Hannibal said, "Can you imagine them son of a bitches shooting me?" I said, "Oh, shut up. You might have a brain concussion." But that was the funniest thing. I've seen him since the war. I've been to his place up on -- up in Pittsburgh, and I never forgot that. "Can you imagine them shooting me?" He weighed about 250 and about 6'2". But I said, "Oh, shut up. You might have a brain concussion." He never forgot that.

Unidentified speaker:

So when you left Guam --

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

-- where was your next big push?

Ralph E. Baker:

Leyte. Leyte in the Philippines. See, we went down to the Philippines. I never understood. They were taking us back and forth. Why the hell didn't they leave us close to where we were? But that was December 7, 1944. See, you can remember that.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

And I was in a landing craft. There was only -- there was me, Harper, a sergeant and the coxswain of the boat. So Harper -- I remember Harper lost his teeth. I said, "Harper, there's your teeth." He said, "To hell with them. I never need them no more." And that sergeant handed me a cigarette. I didn't smoke. I don't remember whether I ate it, smoked it or whatever happened to it. But it was so quiet when we got that landing craft ashore, quieter than it is right here, right now. The enemy had pulled back, quite a ways back. Well, that was their attack, I guess. Let us get ashore and then attack. So that night, we -- we got into a place called Ipple(sp?), and we ran across a lot of medical sup -- well, dental supplies. I don't know whether the Japanese took care of their teeth or what, but I've got a little tube home that I've still got from this place called Ipple(sp?). And everybody had the jungle rot except me. I never did get it. All I done was spend my time using [inaudible], tincture of benzoin, painting behinds there. You know, these people had it in their groin all here, have jungle rot. Never did bother me, but hell, I had more work to do. I was painting it on with paint brushes and everything else. Little paint brushes. So that night, we got there. Before that, we'd run into a machine gun fight. And a boy from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania got shot in the face. But what was odd about this, this Catholic boy from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania; and me, whatever religion it is I got; and a Jewish boy, this Jewish boy I was talking about; and this Seventh-Day Adventist boy -- there was four religions waiting on one -- working on one guy. You know, that's just -- it's -- a preacher could use that, you know. But this old boy from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he never let you forget he was where Punxsutawney Phil come from. That was his big thing in life. But anyhow, that night, a boy from Wilmington, Dominic Fasciola(sp?), stood up in this [inaudible] to get a drink of water and got shot in the head. Now, I've never found up in Wilmington a family of Fasciola. I think there was one that joined the Guard --

Unidentified speaker:

I can call your -- I can -- I can call one of them right now on my phone.

Ralph E. Baker:

Is that --

Unidentified speaker:

One of the Fasciolas.

Ralph E. Baker:

But you say now -- down French Street, his father -- or his -- some of these people had a tailor shop. Of course, this boy done all of our tailoring, putting on patches and stuff.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

But I would never stop. But there was a Fasciola was a second lieutenant in the Guard, I believe, but I've asked a dozen people, you know. It looked like some -- in fact, I wrote to --

Unidentified speaker:

He died?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh.

Unidentified speaker:

Right away?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Yeah. He was just shot in the head. But Dominic Fasciola. But I say, I got all them papers in there.

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. The Fasciolas were in the construction business.

Ralph E. Baker:

Is that right?

Unidentified speaker:

Uh-huh.

Ralph E. Baker:

But I say, I never stopped because I didn't want to talk to the people, you know, when I went by this place on French Street. Oh, this was just after the war. But I would like to find --

Unidentified speaker:

He'd probably -- I'll ask him to find out who -- it's probably his great uncle.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well --

Unidentified speaker:

Or his uncle.

Ralph E. Baker:

See, that was in 1944, see. That's a long time you're talking about.

Unidentified speaker:

No. But my -- but Carmen would know if it was his uncle.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Well, now, you see, I could tell him.

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. Dominic Fasciola. I'll probably -- when you and I get done here, I'll probably call him right away.

Ralph E. Baker:

He was in C Company. And another guy I had up there, I had a Jim Doris. He was from New Castle. He -- he was a fireman out to the air base, out to New Castle Airport. He died here four or five years ago. Of course, I always kept -- well, I was the one who could keep in touch with everybody. You know, people used to write to me. But I think they did it for insurance purposes, you know that. Do you know how so-and-so was wounded or where, you know. But I think what they're trying to do are get VA benefits or something. And I could usually remember them because I used to take their names when they came on sick call, you know. If they had upper respiratory infection or nasopharyngitis or whatever, I -- the doctor -- I could spell it. There's a doctor, I used to write out. So that's how I knew a lot of these people.

Unidentified speaker:

Let me ask you this. What was the -- what was the worst -- the worst experience you went through?

Ralph E. Baker:

I don't think there was any.

Unidentified speaker:

All the same?

Ralph E. Baker:

All the same. But I don't know. It would probably be Barrigada, leaving those boys. But you see, in this film, the film don't even do it justice because you can't explain the background, see. I had this boy that was shot four times. Now, I had to leave him. We were carrying him on a stretcher this morning -- of course, this was later, on Okinawa. But you see, they don't say -- it says in the film that Baker came in the area. The hell I did. I was already there. But you know, you could criticize anybody making something like that. And he says there was a guy, another guy got hit in the head. Well, I went -- I went over to him. You know, they're always hollering, "Medic, over here. Medic, over here." But there was not a damn thing I could do for him. He was dying is what it was. So -- and I say that's not callousness, but --

Unidentified speaker:

No. I understand.

Ralph E. Baker:

But this boy was on my stretcher, but who in the hell was carrying the other end of that stretcher? See? His name is not mentioned. You know, just mine. George McLeod from Rochester. But you see, there's a lot of omissions, things like that. This guy I was telling you about that -- John Glen from Punxsutawney. Now, this conscientious objector, see, Saturday was his sabbath. Well, when he got off Saturday, this John Glen, this Catholic boy, took his -- would do whatever duties he had. But his name's not mentioned in there. You see what I mean?

Unidentified speaker:

So this is about a conscientious objector, is what it is?

Ralph E. Baker:

This film?

Unidentified speaker:

Yes.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. I say he's still living down in Rising Fawn, Georgia.

Unidentified speaker:

Now, what -- what was his -- he was in your outfit?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah. Right with me. If he was someplace, I was there.

Unidentified speaker:

Well, was he a medic?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

Oh, okay.

Ralph E. Baker:

We were all medics.

Unidentified speaker:

So he went in as a conscientious objector because he didn't want to carry a gun?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Well, he didn't have to carry a gun. Well, hell, I never carried a gun.

Unidentified speaker:

Did you have a sidearm?

Ralph E. Baker:

No.

Unidentified speaker:

No sidearm?

Ralph E. Baker:

No, no. Because you'd have a rifle, it would fall off your shoulder. So I didn't -- none of us carried a gun. And you had no Red Cross on your hat or a brassard on your arm. See, people's got -- well, they've seen too many John Wayne movies, see. What did I --

Unidentified speaker:

What -- what possessed this guy to do this story about this guy?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, he says -- now, see, you've got to have a reason for this. His theme was when he was -- one of his boyhood -- he read it in a comic magazine. See, there's a comic magazine about this boy, too. But he read that, and it stirred him, you know. Of course you've got to have a story to go behind this. And he done this. Now, see, this guy that made this movie, I don't think he liked me. Of course that's nothing strange because, you know -- because I don't have too damn many close friends anyhow, but -- except probably the boys in the Army. But see, I wouldn't tell the story his way. See. If he'd say, "Well, what happened at Ormoc?" or something like that, I'd tell him. And seems like I told about this boy where -- this George McLeod, who was with me, carrying -- he was carrying a stretcher. And I had another boy that -- Schecter, he got shot in the back. There was four of us carrying the stretcher. But you see, they don't mention all these people. Out of all the medics in this -- there are only about six that you hear about in this film. You see, that's what I don't like. Now, I know every damn medic there was in our outfit, 36 of them. And where they were, whether they were A Company, B Company, C Company or D Company. Because I kept up with that stuff. In fact, I've got the original log of everybody that was in the medics in that regiment. So -- But --

Unidentified speaker:

So okay. So you've got -- what --

Ralph E. Baker:

Now, at this place called Yigo, I think it's a good little story. We were walking down the road, and I said to a guy on that side, Jim Boyland(sp?). He lives up in Jersey right now. I talked to him the other day on the phone. I said, "I'd like to know what the hell's going on around here." So here, some man said, "Come here, son. I'll tell you." Well, he scared the hell out of me because he was a colonel, you know. But he said, "Come here. I'll tell you." And you know, he stood there and took his map board, said, "We're going here." Which is nice, you know. Well, he walked off and got killed within two minutes. So the sad part about this, that this guy, Douglas McNair, he got killed 12 days before his father in Europe, Lesley J. McNair was with Eisenhower, got killed. And by the time that mother got a telegram her husband was dead, her son was dead. But that's -- that's what sticks with you. And I went back to that same place in 1994. I said to this -- I said to General Davis, who was with us, I said, "Over there is where McNair was killed." He said, "Was he?" And he said he was the one that had to pass that bad news on to the family. But it's funny how long these things, you know, run together.

Unidentified speaker:

And that was General McNair from --

Ralph E. Baker:

No. General McNair was the head of services supply in the United States Army. Lesley J.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

In fact, there's a Camp McNair over in --

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah, in Washington.

Ralph E. Baker:

-- Arlington Cemetery. I've been there quite a bit, too.

Unidentified speaker:

Fort McNair.

Ralph E. Baker:

Fort McNair. But that's Lesley J. But this boy, his name was Douglas. Well, I say "boy." Hell, he was older than I was.

Unidentified speaker:

So tell me now, when did you get hurt?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, two or three times, but not enough to --

Unidentified speaker:

Have you got -- have you got clusters on your Purple Heart?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah -- no, no.

Unidentified speaker:

No?

Ralph E. Baker:

No.

Unidentified speaker:

How do they signify you've got more than one Purple Heart?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, you have to have a -- be treated by somebody.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, just like if I treated you, I'd write it on the tag there, you know, time and place and all. But hell, when they were throwing hand grenades, they'd hit -- well, in Guam, it would hit in the coral. Every damn one of them little chips would be, you know, would be a projectile, if it hit you. I had a couple places over here, one on my nose. But you could just rub them out like that, you know. But -- and of course, the Japanese grenade was about -- like a snuffbox. Size of a snuffbox.

Unidentified speaker:

Uh-huh.

Ralph E. Baker:

You know, and when they'd shoot them -- throw them through the air, it looked like somebody flicking a cigarette. That's what it always reminded me of. But I say, my hands is what got me, after I got -- hurt my hands. In fact, I had -- I had a scar in here until I took a ribbon chisel in it. I was tearing down a lady's bar one time. But that was --

Unidentified speaker:

What was your worst injury?

Ralph E. Baker:

Just that. My hands. But my -- they swole -- they got swollen, and I couldn't grab a stretcher. I'd have to run my hand on it like this, you know. Because I had -- my finger's no good. I was in the hospital 12 days, I think, with -- but it was mostly infection, you know. I kept on working, but they finally had to give me -- I got 91 shots of penicillin. And I was the low man in the ward because everybody in there was in there for malaria, and they just kept giving them.

Unidentified speaker:

Was that all for -- all that penicillin was for battle injuries, not for -- not for R&R injuries?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, no.

Unidentified speaker:

Just kidding.

Ralph E. Baker:

No. No. I used to love giving shots. No. Mine was infection. Penicillin really just come out. See, because we lived in the generation of sulfa drugs, see.

Unidentified speaker:

Of the what? Silver?

Ralph E. Baker:

Sulfa.

Unidentified speaker:

Sulfa -- sulfur. Yeah.

Ralph E. Baker:

Sulfa drugs, like sulfanilamide, sulfadiazine. Different things like that.

Unidentified speaker:

Now, is that the packs you guys --

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

-- used to carry? Now, what did that do?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, it was --

Unidentified speaker:

The powder?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. It was a powder, but -- one was for infection, one was for lungs, one for -- for different things.

Unidentified speaker:

But you used to see, like you'd say, the John Wayne movies. You'd see the medic going up to the guy, and he's got his arm off or whatever, and he's pouring this sulfur thing.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Well, it was a -- yeah. That was probably a sulfadiazine, but -- but you take just -- I mean, they're -- Now, Willoughby was talking a couple weeks ago, this boy from over Springfield, Virginia. You could do so damn little. See, what could you do? And what worried you, did I do enough? You know, because if you take -- He said he had a boy -- well, a friend of mine. Edghill. He was with him as he got killed. Well, I was never with anybody when they got killed, you know. They were dead when I got to them or dying. So -- but Willoughby, he said -- and he's wondered about it ever since. What could you do? A guy died. And you pile them up like a stack of -- a cord of firewood, loading them on trucks. That's what people back here don't see. You take just like -- the Battle of Hürtgen Forest over in Germ -- over in Europe. Hell, they'd send a battalion in there, and they'd come back with 15 people left. We just poured them in there. And they're -- the same damn people that fought Vietnam were sending people, you know. They were colonels then. Then they'd become generals. Still doing the same damn thing. Eisenhower never got within 10 miles of the front lines. Never heard a gunshot. All those -- Bradley and all them.

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. We had one of the -- one of the Delaware guys was from -- actually was a teacher -- was teacher over at -- over at Headlopen(sp?). God, I don't have my list from yesterday, but that was his biggest -- he was in the infantry, and he was a scout, forward scout.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

And that's what he -- he said the exact same thing you did. He said these generals and everybody never saw what was going on up in the front line.

Ralph E. Baker:

No. But --

Unidentified speaker:

And he talked about the bodies and how they piled them up over there, frozen.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, when they ran back in Hürtgen Forest there --

Unidentified speaker:

That's where he was talking about.

Ralph E. Baker:

There was still kids laying on stretchers, you know, had been picked up -- or never got picked up. Now, I mean, I don't know if that makes you bitter, but a lot of people say to me -- but that's war. What the hell they're talking about ain't war.

Unidentified speaker:

You mean now?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, anytime. But you see, they don't see that damn stuff. They're not -- I got up in the morning. I didn't get anything to eat. I might have got a cup of coffee. And you started that same -- I had General Vavalieu(sp?). I read a poem about war, you know, about how stupid they are. But I had General Vavalieu, a couple weeks ago, to read in there, down at the bottom of the page, 159, that book I got in my -- it said --

Unidentified speaker:

Right here?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. Not that one. I've got a book that's called C Company. But no --

Unidentified speaker:

Is your poem in here?

Ralph E. Baker:

Huh?

Unidentified speaker:

Is your poem in here?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Uh-huh. "All wars are planned by older men in council rooms apart."

Unidentified speaker:

Hold on a second.

Ralph E. Baker:

"Who call for greater armament and man the battle chart."

Unidentified speaker:

"All wars are" -- okay. I want you to -- How's the mike?

Unidentified speaker:

When you lean all the way forward, it's not as good.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Sit back -- no, just sit back, because you're not going to be on. I want you to sit back. I want you to read -- I just want you to read that, okay, so we've got that.

Unidentified speaker:

Do you need your glasses for that?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. But -- now, I got one in here I wrote about the medics.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Well, I want you to read that for me, too.

Ralph E. Baker:

"All wars are planned by older men in council rooms apart. "Who call for greater armament and map the battle chart. "But out along the shattered field where golden dreams turn gray, "How very young the faces were" -- That's become my problem anymore.

Unidentified speaker:

That's my problem right now, too. And I'm a little younger than you.

Ralph E. Baker:

No. I can't finish this stuff.

Unidentified speaker:

I know.

Ralph E. Baker:

"Portly and solemn in their pride, the elders cast "For this or that or something else that sounds the martial note."

Unidentified speaker:

Just take a minute.

Ralph E. Baker:

"But where their sightless eyes stare out beyond life's vanished joys" --

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Let's go on to the next one.

Ralph E. Baker:

"I noticed nearly all the dead were hardly more than boys."

Unidentified speaker:

Is that your medic one?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. Oh, no.

Unidentified speaker:

Oh, my God. Is your medic one better?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. But I don't know where it is. But they say they -- And it's just -- I had a boy the other day. I went over to Woodland.

Unidentified speaker:

Here. Try some of this. Take a little swig of that. I didn't bring any whiskey or anything with me today.

Ralph E. Baker:

No. I went over to Woodland the other day to show that movie. And he said -- I said he'd never forgive the Japanese. I said, "Why, Bill?" He said, "Well, what they done." I said, "What do you mean, what they done?" Hell -- there's a saying, "At both ends of the rifle, they're the same." The people we're shooting at, he's shooting at me for the same damn reason. I didn't want to go to the war.

Unidentified speaker:

Say that again. The "both end" --

Ralph E. Baker:

At both ends of the rifle, they're the same. That guy's just as scared as I am, see. This Jim Boyland up here in Jersey, I say he was with me all the time. He's been -- he and his wife both been in the hospital with pneumonia, but anyhow --

Unidentified speaker:

Let me have your glasses.

Ralph E. Baker:

But you know, of the 16 million people that were in the Army, 6 percent of them were ever in battle. See. I've got -- I've got a paper on that, too.

Unidentified speaker:

Weren't?

Ralph E. Baker:

Were in battle.

Unidentified speaker:

Oh, were in battle. Only 6 percent?

Ralph E. Baker:

Right.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay.

Ralph E. Baker:

You see, we've got the largest Army in the world. We got the largest industrial capacity in the world, and we can't beat a country that's two thirds the size of Texas. Now, do you mean to tell me that's good sense? And even by those studies -- these generals, hell, they got medals clear down to here, from their arm to their waist. Where do you get them? Where --

Unidentified speaker:

[inaudible]. Up a little bit. Makeup. Makeup.

Ralph E. Baker:

You take Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in the Army. What in the hell did somebody do? Follow him around all day? How many medals can you get? You know what I mean? And what's beyond the call of duty? See. Nothing.

Unidentified speaker:

Well, what gets -- what I don't understand about it is, just like you said, it's -- and Pascal was there. Pascal was over in Iraq for six months right in the beginning. But --

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, I --

Unidentified speaker:

It's -- even if it's the size of Texas, look at the war we fought, your war --

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, Okinawa --

Unidentified speaker:

-- we were all over the world. No, but we were all over the world. We were spread out all over the world.

Ralph E. Baker:

Okinawa is as big as Iraq.

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. But my point is, is we had troops over the whole world.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

We were fighting battles all over the whole world, not in one confined area. I mean, we were more spread out in Vietnam than they are in Iraq.

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. But hell, they got enough tanks, if you put them abreast, they could walk right down through Iraq or -- what we did over in Europe. You know. What -- the Russians had tanks, had artillery guns for 40 miles across, lined up, shooting at the Stalingrad and that stuff, you know. See, that's simple. And all of these people that went in to Hürtgen Forest and got killed, you only know of one guy's name. Eddie Slovik. Did you -- did you ever --

Unidentified speaker:

I think we need to get some dancing girls in here or something.

Ralph E. Baker:

No. Did you ever hear of him?

Unidentified speaker:

No.

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, he was shot for desertion, like Bush or, you know, not showing up, being AWOL.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

In France, there were 20,000 people AWOL. We shot one of them because he was -- he was a poor boy from Detroit. And his own men shot him. Tied him to a stake and shot him. That don't make sense.

Unidentified speaker:

No. Well, let's focus on -- let's focus on --

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

-- water, please?

Unidentified speaker:

You can't have any.

Ralph E. Baker:

No.

Unidentified speaker:

Let's focus on your -- well, not your last battle, but when you were coming back or how you got back and when you got back and --

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, there was no -- I think I had -- must have had one of them -- what do they call them? These diseases you get, like postmortem so-and-so? I think I had --

Unidentified speaker:

Postpartum whatever it is?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, you see, they hadn't invented them yet.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

See, I didn't know what I was going to do. I had it, but --

Unidentified speaker:

Postpartum depression?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, no. I think that's what women have, isn't it?

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah.

Ralph E. Baker:

Okay. Now, I couldn't even get a loan for $4,000 for a GI loan.

Unidentified speaker:

No, but I mean let's talk about, you were -- what was your last duty station and --

Ralph E. Baker:

Okinawa, see.

Unidentified speaker:

You went into Japan, though?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah. Uh-uh. Hokkaido.

Unidentified speaker:

Now, that was right at the end of the war?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. The war was done.

Unidentified speaker:

It was done.

Ralph E. Baker:

See, the war stopped in August --

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

-- September 3.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

I was on --

Unidentified speaker:

Occupation?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. I was on Sabu(sp?) then.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay.

Ralph E. Baker:

But -- and -- but that's where the war ended. Now the man that we were fighting, the ambasheeta(sp?), he surrendered a sword, his sword, to a boy from my hometown, Laurel, George Bishop. George Bishop's sister was a prisoner of the Japanese for three years, and she was my high school English teacher. And she was released from a Japanese prison camp at Santo Tomas in Luzon. And her next-door neighbor, their next-door neighbor, Richard Ellis -- his picture's up in the State House. Richard Ellis was my classmate. He lived next door to these people. And that was funny, but -- and I know the guy that brought the Japanese to Baguio was a guy from Canby Park. Where is Canby Park?

Unidentified speaker:

It's right in Wilmington.

Ralph E. Baker:

It --

Unidentified speaker:

But -- you know where Elsmere is?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

Elsmere? It's between the city limits of Wilmington and Elsmere. It's right at the very end, over by St. Elizabeth's Church.

Ralph E. Baker:

But I --

Unidentified speaker:

South Union Street.

Ralph E. Baker:

Every time I read this article -- and the guy was on the ship was from Lewis, I remember. That's how I keep up with stuff, but --

Unidentified speaker:

Now where did the Bishop -- where did she move to?

Ralph E. Baker:

She lived out west. She died out there.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay.

Ralph E. Baker:

But she was -- she taught me Shakespeare. I mean, she taught me to understand --

Unidentified speaker:

Who got the sword?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, no. George B. would know -- that was never -- I've got a sword from Japan, but I'm going to give it to the museum up in Wilmington, up to Delaware City. Is that where --

Unidentified speaker:

Delaware City, yep. That's --

Ralph E. Baker:

But the problem is -- see, this stuff I've got, my people down here don't see it. Now, my guide on and all that stuff [inaudible], but I had this sword I brought from Japan. When I was in 945th down in Laurel, I used it as a trophy. Well, I put a sign on it. "If the clouds of war should gather, if the world would turmoil see, then this scabbard blade shall glisten until then it shall be sheathed." But we used it in -- quarterly, we took it out of the case and put Vaseline on it. But I've still got that.

Unidentified speaker:

Did --

Ralph E. Baker:

So Uhman(sp?) was my commanding officer at that time, that was here this morning, came in.

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. He was talking about you this morning. And then we had Cooke. Dr. Cooke?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, yeah. Jervis Cooke?

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah.

Ralph E. Baker:

He was in the Philippines, I think.

Unidentified speaker:

Yep. He was -- he was here this morning earlier. Did -- so anyway, tell me coming back from Japan, where did you go? Where did they discharge you?

Ralph E. Baker:

I come into Seattle and come across country, went back to Fort Dix and was discharged.

Unidentified speaker:

Then what?

Ralph E. Baker:

Just --

Unidentified speaker:

Was Mom -- were you going with Mom yet or were no --

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, no. No. No. My mother and I -- see, my mother and sister were still -- were living. And I only got $3 a month.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

I took as little as you could and sent home to them, see. They were living in Bethel. So --

Unidentified speaker:

So when you came back here, what did you do?

Ralph E. Baker:

Went to work for DuPont for four or five more years. But you see, I wasn't satisfied, being closed up. People said, "Well, you're foolish. You didn't stay at DuPont." Of course I was. I have a good pension, but -- But I joined the Guard, thought I could teach somebody or something. But hell, they still don't know.

Unidentified speaker:

When did you get married, and when did you do all that?

Ralph E. Baker:

Thirty-eight years ago. But she had three girls, but I mean, I've taken care of them, you know. They've been with me longer than they were with their daddy.

Unidentified speaker:

Is your wife from here?

Ralph E. Baker:

No. She's from Laurel.

Unidentified speaker:

Laurel?

Ralph E. Baker:

She worked across the street from me in [inaudible]. And there was a sale that week, so I married her. I got a discount. Yeah. Well, it was real. I used to -- big meat sale, but -- no.

Unidentified speaker:

So tell me about what happened with -- you were working for DuPont. Then what happened? Where did you go from there?

Ralph E. Baker:

Went to work for the Guard.

Unidentified speaker:

Oh, so you were -- so you retired from the Guard full-time?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah -- well, no. I worked for them a couple times. But I went away to school. I went to -- well, I went to intelligence school. You wouldn't believe that. Out in Kansas. See, I used to just love -- I liked to go to school back then.

Unidentified speaker:

Right.

Ralph E. Baker:

So -- and I learned a lot, really. In fact, I even went to cook school and baking school, meat cutting school. I weren't good at it, but -- I think they wanted me to cook for the enemy. I was about that bad a cook.

Unidentified speaker:

Did -- what did -- so you're with the Guard part- time?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, see, I -- when I weren't working for the Guard, I kept -- I had to keep up with it.

Unidentified speaker:

What were you doing when you weren't working for the Guard?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, worked for [inaudible] down in Laurel. I worked there about 17 years. And I retired from there.

Unidentified speaker:

Haberdashery?

Ralph E. Baker:

Yeah. Yeah. So it was Truman. Yeah, yeah.

Unidentified speaker:

So was Uncle George Kelly up there I was telling you about. Colonel Kelly. He ran -- he ran the men's store up there in Wilmington. Reynolds. Reynolds. Reynolds Clothing.

Ralph E. Baker:

Who was -- that place was in DuPont Hotel? Anyhow --

Unidentified speaker:

Was Wright & Simon in there?

Ralph E. Baker:

I believe so.

Unidentified speaker:

Now they're on Market Street. They're still there. Wright & Simon's still there.

Ralph E. Baker:

In DuPont Hotel?

Unidentified speaker:

No. Across the street. Down Shipley Street. Like down -- remember where the English Grill was?

Ralph E. Baker:

Uh-huh.

Unidentified speaker:

They were right alongside of them.

Ralph E. Baker:

You know they're closing all the English Grills around here. I don't know if --

Unidentified speaker:

The Englishes, yeah.

Ralph E. Baker:

I don't know if it's the same family --

Unidentified speaker:

No, no. Different. All different.

Ralph E. Baker:

But --

Unidentified speaker:

All right. Let's -- I've got to -- just one -- one last thing to ask you. Is -- Well, first of all, tell me, what do you think about -- you think World War II should be more of a -- more of a course in high school than it is, or do you think the kids need to know more about it?

Ralph E. Baker:

Well, it was the only decent war we ever had, you know. We were -- there was a purpose for us being there. Of course, we probably provoked the Japanese to do it. But you see, there ain't nobody's right in wartime, you know. But they don't learn the lessons from it. You know. They don't learn the lessons of World War II and -- Eisenhower said we hate the Japanese, but hell, somebody's got to hate everybody, you know. Just like your enemies are my enemies or we ain't friends. We all got to hate the same people. Usually we hate the blacks, the Jews, everybody. Somebody's being hated, you know what I mean?

Unidentified speaker:

Should we throw them in the well?

Ralph E. Baker:

What's that?

Unidentified speaker:

Nothing. That's a song we were --

Ralph E. Baker:

But --

Unidentified speaker:

So okay. Here's a good -- what do you want the generations to come to know and remember about World War II?

Ralph E. Baker:

I don't know that there's anything they could learn from it. I mean, that it just happened, but history started a fable and agreed upon somebody saying, you know -- they glorify it too much. There's nothing -- if they ain't learning what today -- nothing today, they ain't going to learn it.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. How about a major message, just of anything, for the future generation?

Ralph E. Baker:

Just don't do it. Be nice if we had a war and nobody ran, you know.

Unidentified speaker:

Tell me that again.

Ralph E. Baker:

Have a war, nobody go to it, you know. You know. Don't sell no tickets to it. Don't go. But it's so profitable. Look at all the people making money out of this war, see. All my friends around home got land galore. Don't even know what to do with it. Got so much money, they don't know what to do with it. But of course now, you know, people -- there's no [inaudible] saying it does any good. But people make money. It's a money-making thing. Hell, we wouldn't even go in Iraq unless we were buying good oil or something.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Would you do it again?

Ralph E. Baker:

Oh, probably would. But you ain't going to get -- I'd have to, because ain't nobody else going to do it. Those people didn't go before, ain't going next time. None of the Bush boys went. See, there were four. My mother had three. But Mrs. Bush didn't have no children over there. Well, I guess Mrs. Cheney either. But I say any of them. They don't -- Fortune 500 people don't. Congress don't go. Hell. They vote for all this stuff, but none of them's going. And I sincerely believe that I could take -- go out here and get ten people walking down the street and put them in the war and they'd fight it, you know, just as good as anybody. Hell, if you get killed on the beach, it don't make no difference how much training you got, you know. A lot of people.

Unidentified speaker:

Why don't we -- let's do a full front shot of him, with his America thing. Is that okay?

Unidentified speaker:

Sure.

Unidentified speaker:

Do you want to do any profile or not? Do you want to do a profile or not? Okay. What I'd like you to do is sit up straight.

Unidentified speaker:

I have to -- after it's turned off like this -- with him just sitting there.

Unidentified speaker:

I want to pull this -- I want to pull this. I want to pull that down.

Ralph E. Baker:

Now, is he seeing it on there?

Unidentified speaker:

Yeah. You're beautiful.

Ralph E. Baker:

No. These -- these guys on the -- that were at my house, they had this thing. You go there and look at it anytime, the scene, but --

Unidentified speaker:

Now, look at me, just straight. Sit up straight. And just -- just -- there you go. We're not going to say anything. You can't say anything. Why don't we do -- you want to do a profile? Yeah. Right now what we're going to do is we're just going to turn you around this way. Here. I'll move you over. This is just a -- okay. Careful. Okay. Here we go. I'm going to move you just like this.

Unidentified speaker:

You need to assist him. I am. Here we go.

Ralph E. Baker:

That's okay.

Unidentified speaker:

There we go. Here we go.

Ralph E. Baker:

Do you want that poem about [inaudible].

Unidentified speaker:

Yes. But I can call you and you can send it to me, if you don't have a copy of it.

Ralph E. Baker:

I probably have it.

Unidentified speaker:

You know what I'll do? I'll go make a copy of it right down here. That's what I'll do. Just look straight. Is he okay?

Unidentified speaker:

Yep.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay.

Unidentified speaker:

Thank you, sir.

Unidentified speaker:

Okay. Now I'm going to ask you a dumb Delaware question. How far down is Bethel from here? Or are you up?

Ralph E. Baker:

Three miles. (Conclusion of interview.)

 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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