Baker, Robert A.

Robert Allen Baker was born on 23 May 1919 in Huntsville, Alabama. After high school Robert attended the University of Alabama. Robert was inducted into the US Army in May 1941 and  initially served in the Quartermaster Corps in Charleston, South Carolina. Robert was selected to attend Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia and upon graduation, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry.

2nd Lt. Baker was assigned to the 26th Infantry Regiment (known as “Blue Spaders”) of the 1st Infantry Division. In November 1942 the 1st ID took part in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa. Lt. Baker went overseas in January 1943, and likely joined the 26th regiment as a replacement prior to the battle of Kasserine Pass. The regiment next went into action in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, making an amphibious landing on 10 July 1943 near the city of Gela. The 26th then moved through the center of Sicily, fighting through the mountains, and took part in some of the heaviest fighting of the entire Sicilian campaign at the Battle of Troina. After the conclusion of Operation Husky, the division returned to England in November 1943 to prepare for the eventual invasion of Normandy.

On D-Day, 6 June 1944, the 1st Infantry was in the first wave of troops that assaulted German Army defenses on Omaha Beach, with some of the division's units suffering 30 percent casualties in the first hour of the assault. By the end of the day, the division secured the beachhead and captured Formigny and Caumont. Lt. Baker was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action in Normandy on 9 June. He also earned a battlefield promotion to 1st Lieutenant.

Over the next four months the 1st ID battled their way across France, reaching the German border at Aachen in September. By 1 October 1944, over 70% of the men of the 1st ID were replacements, a testament to the fierce German resistance the division encountered. The 1st ID participated in the siege and capture of Aachen, the first city on German soil to be captured by the Allies. 1Lt. Baker was killed in action on 11 October 1944 while serving as commanding officer of his company, likely during the brutal house to house fighting in Aachen.

Robert Allen Baker was initially buried in France and was reinterred in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama in 1948 and is also memorialized at the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial. His brothers William and Schuyler served in the Army and Army Air Forces, respectively, and survived the war.