Segment 18


The day that Eisenhower stood up to Montgomery was the day he really started doing good. Baldwin was home working when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He felt like it was the most horrible thing he had heard in his life. He knew that the United States was at war. They knew a little about what was going on in Europe, but that they were still dealing with post Depression life in the US and it didn't matter much until the US got involved in the war. He also remembers that the military wasn't prepared for a world war. Baldwin remembered that when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor that Schofield Barracks was bombed. At US Steel in Fairfield, Alabama, where he was working, they made some of the parts to repair the barracks or build new ones. This was what he was working on right after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He knew they were replacing the barracks, but that was about it. The 2nd Division was crossing the Elbe River after coming out of the Alps and heading to Pilsen, Czech. Once they crossed the Elbe [Annotator's note: and got into Pilsen], German prisoners were coming through their lines by the hundreds. The day before the Americans were told to let the Germans through as they were surrendering to avoid Russian captivity. 8 May 1945 made it the official surrender date. They were thrilled to death. The Czech people loved the Americans and hated the Germans. Two days after the war was over, the town went to work repairing buildings, etc. The girls there looked and dressed nice. Everything was ironed and clean. They welcomed the GIs. They loved the Americans and still do. On 8 May they put their rifles down and put the covers on the gun and put them in a line. For the 1st time they started eating good. They had an aid station about 100 yards from the tent Baldwin was in. There was a little boy walking across there and he just blew up all of the sudden. Apparently, the boy found a hand grenade and pulled the pin. Baldwin scooped up the baby boy and someone brought a jeep and he sat on the hood of the jeep with the baby and he took him to the first aid station. Baldwin was crying. A doctor or nurse met him. A little later, he was told someone wanted to talk to him and they told him that they could have saved him, but a piece of shrapnel went into his head. Baldwin had a baby at home. This happened about two days after the war. The baby boy didn't know what he was doing, was walking along and found the grenade, pulled the pin and blew himself up. Baldwin never knew who his family was, where he came from or anything. He can still feel himself sitting on the hood of that jeep holding that little boy. War is terrible; the innocent people. Baldwin had a man, Ernest Fitts, who picked him up in Georgia and took him to the bus station in Birmingham from Fort McPherson. The bus was supposed to get in Birmingham at a certain time. He told Jeanette not to tell his family since he was going to be coming in late at night. He was going to call him in the morning. Ernest Fitts brought him to the bus station and Baldwin saw Jeanette and thought that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen in his life. Her and her mother were sitting there and she had long black hair. She just looked so pretty. He walked right up to her and they barely said anything to each other and they just stood there together. They went home and a friend of Jeanette's friend had stayed with the baby. Baldwin walked in and the baby was laying in his crib sound asleep and looked so pretty. He woke him up and the baby looked up at him and then just went back to sleep. They had a picture of him while he was away at war where he was looking up at an airplane and would ask Jeanette if that was his daddy. She'd have to tell him it wasn't him. Jeanette also had a cousin named Jack that was in the Air Force and stopped in to pay a visit 1 day. The baby asked him if he was his daddy. He was nearly 3 years old. The next day, Baldwin had to start trying to get used to him and the baby wouldn't have much to do with him at first. But after a few days they were good buddies. He grew up to be a great man, got educated, went to college and was in the Honor Guard. Baldwin's 1st son was named Lewis Ray. His 2nd son is Larry Jack. Lewis Ray died in 1982 at 38 years old. All of the electrolytes went haywire in his body. He started out with spondolytis and then the electrolytes issues. Jack lives with his death every day. He'll get up and start doing things to get his mind off of it. He thinks of the times when his son came to him with problems and wonders if he gave him good advice or if things could have been different. But hindsight is better than foresight.


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