Segment 1


Baumgarten served with the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division during the first wave of attacks on D-Day. He recalls his childhood in New York City. He attended local public schools before attending the Universtiy Heights Branch of New York University at the age of 16. He was a member of the university's ROTC program, which was compulsory at the time. He tried to enlist in the Air Force when he was 17, but they rejected him, so he stayed in school. Baumgarten stayed in school for two years and completed two years of ROTC before being drafted on June 26, 1943, but he was technically in the Army for two years beforeHe completed 17 weeks of training at Camp Croft, South Carolina. While he was there, he was convinced to sign a release forgoing OTS [Annotator's note: Officer Training School] to go to Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at Clemson University in South Carolina with the star unit. He stayed at Camp Croft for about three weeks training soldiers on rifles before the Army canceled the ASTP and sent him overseas. He went to Ft. Meade, Maryland, where they trained for a while before going to Camp Shanks, New York. Baumgarten recalls that one night, they crossed the Hudson River and boarded the Il de France, the third largest ship in the world at the time, to serve overseas. The ship was so fast it only took them five days to cross the Atlantic and reach Green Ox, Scotland. They took a train to southern England and were placed in a "repo depot," a replacement camp. He transferred to Crown Heights, Plymouth, the headquarters of the 116th Infantry Regiment, also known at the "Stonewall Brigade" because of its southern background. When they arrived, Colonel Charles D. W. Cannom addressed them, saying that two out of three of them were not going to make it back to the states because they were going to be the spearheads for the second front.He was sent to Company A, known as the "boys from Bedford," with many of the men he was with at Camp Croft. They wouldn't let him and his friends join the regulars until they were trained their way. They broke into boat teams. There were six in Company A, 29 men in each with one officer. Baumgarten was in Boat Team 6 of Company A. They trained on the moors with mock assault boats. The attack formations and training became second nature to the men. They could do it in their sleep. He remembers some of the men shooting right between his legs because everyone knew where each person was going to be. They were that good.In the early part of April 1944, he began training for his expert infantry badge. He remembers that during training you had to carry a man on your back for 75 yards, crawl through barbed wire courses very fast, do 50 pushups, about 30 chin-ups, and throw a grenade a certain distance. He was paid 5 dollars more a month after receiving this badge.After his expert infantry training, Baumgarten transferred to amphibious training in Broughton, England. They trained on the sand at Woolacombe in Wales because it had the same terrrain as Normandy. He trained with the rangers from Company C of the 2nd Ranger Battalion. They climbed the cliffs with the rangers and practiced climbing cargo nets on the sides of mock boats. He recalls being scared falling while climbing down the super structures on the back of the ship because he was wearing metal cleats and carrying 150 pounds of gear and his rifle. They taught him how to shoot his weapon while lying on his back and to fire bazookas. From LCAs [Annotator's Note: Landing Craft, Assault], they attacked pill boxes on the beach with the tactics the rangers taught them and then climbed the cliffs to practice throwing grenades.


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