Enemies of Liberty are ruthless. To own your Liberty, you'd better come harder than your enemies..

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is always a bit low-key around the Kerodin home.  It was the same when I was a boy, though when I was a boy we were never home on this day.  We were at the VFW in Great Falls, Maryland.  Usually there were groups of men laughing and being men - in a time when a Lady might blush, but she was woman enough to know she was around real men, and she liked it.  I really didn't figure that out until I was older.  Grandma married at least 5 times from that Post.  Say no more, please - that's my Grandma we're talking about.  ;)

On those days there were also small groups scattered about throughout the day, they shifted places and members as the day passed.  Those men were not boisterous and happy.  Emotion from those groups of men was enough to make a boy my age sometimes come close enough to hear, and sometimes find an overwhelming need to leave the building and find a spot in the woods that surrounded the post.

It happened more than once, but once was different from the others.  Men and women with tattoos on their arms were there for lunch and dinner.  A lot of the guys I had come to know showed up on a few of those days in their first-class uniforms - many had chests filled with buttons and ribbons.  That place was hallowed.  Young boys - at least this one - didn't ask what all the buttons, ribbons and pins meant.  And he never asked where that scar came from, or where the rest of his arm was...

It was at that place on Great Falls Road just a few hundred yards from the Potomac River, in the safety of my world - that every one of those men, and many women - had a direct role in preserving that safety, I met Sergeant Thomas Baker.  He had been dead about 23 years when one of the men who knew me at the Post introduced me.

I have no talent for writing what must be conveyed.  I will allow his Official U.S. Army Medal of Honor report speak instead.  Thomas Baker did not save the last round for himself...

Thomas A. Baker (June 25, 1916 – July 7, 1944) was a Sergeant in the United States Army during World War II. He served with Alpha Company, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry division in the Philippines. He received a Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions in combat on the island of Saipan.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty at Saipan,  June 19 to July 7 1944. When his entire company was held up by fire from automatic weapons and small-arms fire from strongly fortified enemy positions that commanded the view of the company, Sgt. (then Pvt.) Baker voluntarily took a bazooka and dashed alone to within 100 yards of the enemy. Through heavy rifle and machinegun fire that was directed at him by the enemy, he knocked out the strong point, enabling his company to assault the ridge. Some days later while his company advanced across the open field flanked with obstructions and places of concealment for the enemy, Sgt. Baker again voluntarily took up a position in the rear to protect the company against surprise attack and came upon 2 heavily fortified enemy pockets manned by 2 officers and 10 enlisted men which had been bypassed. Without regard for such superior numbers, he unhesitatingly attacked and killed all of them. Five hundred yards farther, he discovered 6 men of the enemy who had concealed themselves behind our lines and destroyed all of them. On 7 July 1944, the perimeter of which Sgt. Baker was a part was attacked from 3 sides by from 3,000 to 5,000 Japanese. During the early stages of this attack, Sgt. Baker was seriously wounded but he insisted on remaining in the line and fired at the enemy at ranges sometimes as close as 5 yards until his ammunition ran out. Without ammunition and with his own weapon battered to uselessness from hand-to-hand combat, he was carried about 50 yards to the rear by a comrade, who was then himself wounded. At this point Sgt. Baker refused to be moved any farther stating that he preferred to be left to die rather than risk the lives of any more of his friends. A short time later, at his request, he was placed in a sitting position against a small tree . Another comrade, withdrawing, offered assistance. Sgt. Baker refused, insisting that he be left alone and be given a soldier's pistol with its remaining 8 rounds of ammunition. When last seen alive, Sgt. Baker was propped against a tree, pistol in hand, calmly facing the foe. Later Sgt. Baker's body was found in the same position, gun empty, with 8 Japanese lying dead before him. His deeds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

3 comments:

  1. May eternal Light shine upon them O Lord, these selfless patriots who have given the last full measure in defense of Liberty.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Apologies, for being somewhat off topic.
    Regarding your previous posts about moves by
    Chinese military to watch for: "Chinese ship rams and sinks Vietnamese fishing boat in Vietnam’s waters"
    http://www.vietnambreakingnews.com/2014/05/chinese-ship-rams-and-sinks-vietnamese-fishing-boat-in-vietnams-waters/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Saipan, talk about a knock down drag out fight. Extraordinary bravery.

    ReplyDelete

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