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W. E. Baker, Jr.

Killed in Action - 1 January 1944

Source: Burnet Bulletin, dates noted. Transcribed by JoAnn Myers, Oct 2002

Photo: Burnet High School YearBook, 1943


Burnet Bulletin, 10 Feb 1944

Stubby Baker was a poet at heart and not long ago his parents received the poem printed below from him, about the loss of a buddy of his in the action:

A Brave Marine
We landed on the Solomons on the hot and burning sand.
It was a place of beauty in this lovely, tropical land.
We stood there gazing, both me and my pal,
He said we would never forget this Guadalcanal.
 
The nights were in splendor, with yellow moonlight,
Palm trees were stirring by the breezes in the night.
My pal wrote a letter back home to his gal
Said, I wish you might see this lovely Guadalcanal.
 
The battle soon started and we made the enemy hide,
But my buddy was wounded and fell at my side;
His eyes, they were fading, but he managed to yell,
"We will never give you our Guadalcanal."
 
He said, write me a letter and his voice grew low.
Said, "Tell my dear Mother it was my time to go.
Tell her in Heaven I will meet her, that I shall,
So write me no more in care of Guadalcanal."
 
The battle soon ended and I did as he said,
But my heart felt heavy, for my buddy was dead.
Today I am leaving the grave of my pal,
And I will never forget him and this Guadalcanal.

 

Burnet Bulletin, 25 June 1942

W. E. (Stubby) Baker will leave Monday for San Antonio and from there he will be sent to San Diego, CA. He joined the Marines Tuesday. Stubby is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Baker, and graduated from the Burnet High School in May. He is under the military age and his acceptance required the consent of his parents.

Burnet Bulletin, 20 Aug 1942

In a letter to his parents, W. E. states that he is stationed at San Diego, and plays in the band. He is in the Marines and is only 17 years of age.

Burnet Bulletin, 24 Sept 1942 --

Pvt. Walter E. Baker, Jr. called his mother, Mrs. Walter Baker from San Diego, Sunday night. He stated he was well and happy, and liked his work in the Marine band fine; he plays the base horn. He stated his band had won first place in a contest in which they had entered. Since his entry into the Marines the 1st day of July, he has won four medals. He said he would come up for his first rating, of which he hoped he would make good in about two weeks. One of his medals was for being honor man in his platoon.

Burnet Bulletin, 10 Feb 1944, by Mrs. J. T. Clements--

Walter E. (Stubby) Baker Killed in Action. I do not believe that in my more than 50 years of resident in Burnet, any message has ever been received that caused more universal sadness and sorrow than the word received by Mr. And Mrs. Walter E. Baker last Thursday evening, February 3rd, 1944, from the War Department that their son, Walter E. (Stubby) Baker, Jr., had been killed in action, somewhere in the Pacific area. Everyone you met had a look of sadness, and when they spoke, there were tears in their eyes.

Memorial Services Held Sunday Afternoon. Sunday afternoon in the First Baptist Church, a beautiful memorial service was held for this dear boy, who would not have been twenty years old until next May 2nd. When he joined the Marines in 1942, because of his youth, the consent of his parents was required by the government.

I shall never forget when Stubby was home on leave summer before last, and how manly and brave he looked. He and his father came to our home to visit with us for a little while, and the pride of the father for his son shone in Mr. Baker's eyes.

For the memorial service, the church was decorated with many beautiful flowers, with the flag of our country at half mast. On the altar was a handsome photograph of Stubby, taken after he had joined the Marines.

The service was conducted by Rev. Buren Sparks, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Burnet, assisted by Rev. George Brown, paster of the Bertram Baptist Church. Bro. Brown read the scriptures, selecting the 14th Chapter of John, which is such a solace to all mankind in times of grief. Two songs were rendered by the choir, the first, "God Be with You Till We Meet Again," then after the scripture reading and prayer, "Faith of Our Fathers." Bro. Sparks made one of the most beautiful talks I have ever heard upon any occasion. He spoke of how this young boy had gone into the war to save our freedom from such tyrany and slavery as practiced by our enemies. He made the supreme sacrifice so that his loved ones and friends would not have to suffer. "Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his loved ones." Stubby was a praying boy, for to one of his letters to his mother, he asked his mother to pray. He said, "I am praying and I want you to pray." He was a member of the Christian church. How happy the thought that he prayed and wanted to be prayed for! His loved ones have the assurance that some time in the Breast Beyond they will be able to meet their dear boy again, where there is no sadness and parting.

Friends and relatives from all over Burnet county, and from other places, attended the service to show their honor and love for the boy who gave his life for all of us, and as expressions of sympathy to the parents and sisters. Every available seat in the church house and all Sunday School rooms were filled, and almost as many were on the outside.

Stubby Baker was born May 2, 1924, at Mahomet in Burnet county Texas. At the age of fourteen he joined the Christian Church and was baptised in the Gabriel river. The family moved to the town of Burnet in 1935. He attended the Burnet High School and took an active part in the social and athletic life of the school. He graduated from this school in May 1942, and left at once as a volunteer to join that gallant body of men, the United States Marines, whose valor and fighting ability is recognized throughout the world. He was sent to San Diego, California for his basic training. He is supposed to have landed sometime after April of last year in New Caledonia and he took a hero's part in the stubborn battle of Guadalcanal.

He is survived by his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Walter E. Baker of Burnet and three sisters, Mrs. Gilbert Everett of Georgetown, and Janell and Movelda Baker of Burnet.

Burnet Bulletin, 10 Feb 1944

Card of Thanks. We take this method to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all our friends who called and offered consoling words, and to each and every one who did all in their power to help lift the weight of grief and sadness from our hearts in the loss of our dear loved one. To Brother Sparks and Brother Brown for their comforting words and to the choir, Home Guard, American Legion, and Mrs. Donald Edgar for the comforting music. To his dear graduating class for their sweet song. To the ushers, Ross Johnson, and Mr. And Mrs. Northington for the arrangement of the memorial service. For all the beautiful flowers and cards of sympathy. To all the ladies who prepared all the meals. To the post office in their efficient service to us. To Mr. Riddell and Mr. Cehand for their comforting words when they had to deliver the heart breaking message. Let us say may God's richest blessings rest upon each and everyone is our prayer.

Mr. And Mrs. Walter Baker; Janell and Movelda; Mr. And Mrs. Gilbert Everett and Michael

Letter to Mr. Heinz Ulrich, Postmaster from Lyndon B. Johnson, 8 Feb 1944:

Dear Heinz:

I called the Navy Department, Marine Casualty Section immediately upon receipt of your letter of February 5th. I am advised that Walter E. Baker, Jr. was killed in action on January 1, 1944. He was buried in the USAF Cemetery, Grave Location No. 4, near the scene of his death. He was killed as a result of a gun shot wound in the chest. This is all the information available at this time.

I am sorry I am unable to give you any more of the details.

Sincerely,

Lyndon Johnson

(Burnet Bulletin, 24 Feb 1944)

Further Info Concerning Stubby Baker. Letter from Marine Commander, 4 Feb 1944 to Mrs. Ora C. Baker.

My Dear Mrs. Baker:

It is a source of profound regret to me and to his comrades in the Marine Corps that your son, Private Walter Elmer Baker, Jr., United States Marine Corps, lost his life in action against the enemies of his country and I wish to express my deepest sympathy to you and members of your family in your great loss.

There is little I can say to lessen your grief, but it is my earnest hope that the knowledge of your son's splendid record in the service and the thought that he nobly gave his life in the performance of his duty may in some measure comfort you in this sad hour.

Sincerely yours,

A.A. Vandegrift, LT. General, U.S.M.C.
Commandant of the Marine Corps

(Burnet Bulletin, 24 Feb 1944)

Letter from Stubby Baker's Commanding Officer

Capt. John W. Holland
Co. B., 1st Bn, 5th Marines
Care Fleet P.O.
San Francisco, Calif.

Feb. 6, 1944

Dear Mr. Baker

It is extremely difficult to express one's emotions when he sees a fellow marine pass on. It is equally difficult to attempt to ease the pangs of sorrow that the loved ones are suffering at their recent loss.

However, it would be a great oversight to let go unsaid just how important a part your son, Walter, played in the efforts of our particular company. As Walter's commanding officer, I always found him not only ready and willing to do his own tasks, but also eager to go out of his way to help on odd jobs.

On Dec. 30th, our company, along with another company in the battalion had just successfully secured a ridge and driven the enemy back. Then our company had been given the mission of holding the ridge, while the rest of the battalion moved down around the left flank. There were a few snipers left in the ravine in front of the ridge and while Walter was digging a hasty foxhole on the forward slopes of the ridge, one of these snipers got him. However, two of Walter's buddies finished the sniper off in good style.

You may rest assured that Walter was laid to rest with full religious rites and ceremonies in a cemetery which houses all our other buddies who have passed on.

Please know, Mr. Baker, that my entire command joins with me in expressing sincerest sympathy to you and Walter's entire family. Remember that his passing is not only your loss, but "B" Company's loss.

We have lost one of the bravest, finest friends we had.

If there are any questions you should like to ask or anything possible that I can do for you, do not hesitate to let me know.

God be with you in your hour of sorrow.

Sincerely yours,
John W. Holland
Capt., U.S.M.C.R.

(Burnet Bulletin, 16 March 1944)

Received the Purple Heart.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter E. Baker have received the Purple Heart and also the Purple Heart Certificate which was posthumously awarded their son, the late Pvt. Walter E. Baker, Jr., USMC. They will also receive the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal for his service in the Asiatic-Pacific area. This medal will not be ready for issuance until 6 months after the war, at which time they were requested to make application to the Marine Corps Office for the award.

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