Baker, Thomas Alexander.

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Baker, Thomas Alexander, born 25-06-1916 in Troy, New York to Thomas Baker Sr. and his wife Emma, born Redmond, Baker. Thomas had one brother Joseph H “Joe” Baker, Joseph saw also military service during World War II, serving in the U.S. Army, Headquarters Company, 94th Infantry Division in the European Theater from 1942 to 1945. He died 12-01-2004 (age 86) in Troy, Rensselaer County, New York.

Thomas joined the Army from that city in October 1940. By 19-06-1944, he was serving as a private in Company A of the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. under command of Major General George Wesly Griner Jr.

The 27th Infantry Division was a unit of the Army National Guard in World War I and World War II. The division traces its history from the New York Division, formed originally in 1908. The 6th Division designation was changed to the 27th Division in July 1917 As a result of the Second World War, the division sustained a total of 6,533 casualties, of those were 1,512 killed in action, 4,980 wounded in action, 40 missing in action, and one prisoner of war.

Death and burial ground of Baker, Thomas Alexander.

On that day, on Saipan in the Marianas Islands, he advanced ahead of his unit with a bazooka and destroyed a Japanese emplacement which was firing on his company. Several days later, he single-handedly attacked and killed two groups of Japanese soldiers. On July 7, Baker’s position came under attack by a large Japanese force. Although seriously wounded early in the attack, he refused to be evacuated and continued to fight in the close-range battle until running out of ammunition. When a comrade was wounded while trying to carry him to safety, Baker insisted that he be left behind. At his request, his comrades left him propped against a tree and gave him an M1911 pistol, which had eight bullets remaining. When American forces retook the position, they found the pistol, then empty, and eight dead Japanese soldiers around Baker’s body. His deeds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

Baker was posthumously promoted to sergeant and, on 09-05-1945, awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions throughout the battle for Saipan. He was buried at Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, New York. Section 8, Site 530.

In November 2009, a memorial honoring Baker and fellow Troy natives Major General Ogden J. Ross and Lieutenant Colonel William J. O’Brien (Medal of Honor) was installed in the Rensselaer County office building. O’Brien, like Baker a member of the 105th Infantry, was also posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Saipan; he died there within hours of Baker. Ross was a former commander of the 105th Infantry and an assistant divisional commander during the Battle of Saipan. The memorial includes replicas of the Medals of Honor awarded to Baker and O’Brien. Lieutenant Colonel William J. O’Brien’s battalion, on 07-07-1944-came under attack from a much larger enemy force, the largest banzai charge of the Pacific War. He refused, like Thomas Baker, to leave the front lines even after being wounded and continued to rally his men until being overrun and killed. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on 09-05-1945, for his actions throughout the battle for Saipan. Major General  Ross survived the war and died on 27-10-1968, age 75 in Troy, New York; and was buried at the Oakwood Cemetery there.

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