Segment 2


Baker went to Camp Wolters, Texas for basic training and experienced segregation. He got onto a bus when he arrived and tried to sit in the front. The driver called him an offensive name and told him to go to the back of the bus where he belonged. Baker went to strike the bus driver but an old man interfered and told him about the South and what to expect. The interviewer asks Baker what that did to his ego as a man. Baker states it was demeaning but he could hear his grandfather say 'if you wanna live boy, learn how to conform”. They were trained separately from white soldiers. After Camp Wolters he went to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The next morning they went out on formation where a Sgt. Espy asked if anyone could use a typewriter and Baker raised his hand. He became a company clerk for Company D, 25th Infantry. This was in October 1941. At that time they were recruiting black soldiers to become officers. Being the clerk, Baker processed all the paperwork from orderly and supply rooms. When his sergeant left to go to OCS Baker earned his sergeant stripes and he became a supply sergeant. This also occurred in October 1941. Most black soldiers at that time were illiterate or semi-literate and had been in the army for 15 or 20 years and only risen to the rank of Corporal because at that time in the army somebody either had to die or be discharged to move up. Baker had a high school education. He became a supply sergeant from October 1941 to October 1942. In December 1941 everyone was promoted one grade and he became a staff sergeant. Around that time his unit was shipped up to Spokane, Washington where they became the security force for Geiger Airfield. He got his first taste of real democracy in the United States in Spokane. All of the NCOs in the unit decided to go into Spokane and find some girls and have a party. All the NCOs went to church to find a date. Baker and his date went to the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington. It was the first time he had a white waitress wait on him. He said to himself "This is America."


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