Segment 4

Annotation

The interviewer notes that in the last segment Baker made a comment about an event that was his initiation into war. She has also heard him quoted as saying he fought a war on two sides. She asks Baker how he felt about defending a country that treated him wrongly. Baker says he was on the fence. It was the only country he had, but he was also fighting for people that didn't care about him. Baker asks to digress and talk about some interactions with some of the corporals that had been in the Army 20 years after he made supply sergeant. He was coming home from a movie one night and four guys were behind him. One of them said "Hey, smart nigger" and harassed and beat up Baker about his promotion. He tried not to dwell on it until three or four weeks later when he was called up to regimental headquarters, but that's when he was sent to OCS. In October 1942, he shipped off to Fort Benning for OCS. Then he was assigned to Camp Rucker, Alabama to an airbase security unit. Many black soldiers went overseas for this duty. When Baker went overseas to Italy he went aboard the Mariposa and the entire 370th Regimental Combat Team, about 7,000 men, and their weapons were on the ship. The entire ship was black so there was no segregation aboard. They were told they didn't need a convoy because the ship could outrun torpedoes. Nobody bought that explanation though. They pulled up near Naples harbor. They had to walk across sunken ships to get to the harbor. They walked on gangplanks across sunken ships in the shallow harbor.

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