Samuel E. 'Sam' Baker

BRANCH OF SERVICE
U.S. Army Air Forces

HOMETOWN
Sacramento, CA

HONORED BY
John C. Burkhardt, SVC MOPH, Chapter 1919, Austin, Texas

ACTIVITY DURING WWII

HE ENLISTED SEPTEMBER 30, 1939, AND WAS ORDERED TO REPORT TO CHANUTE ARMY AIR FIELD AT RANTOUL, ILLINOIS, WHERE HE WAS TRAINED AS AN AIRPLANE MECHANIC. AFTER GRADUATION HE WAS ASSIGNED TO AIRCRAFT INSTRUMENT REPAIR. HE WAS SOON TRANSFERRED TO KEESLER ARMY AIR FIELD, BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI, AND BECAME AN INSTRUCTOR IN AIRCRAFT INSTRUMENTS. AFTER PEARL HARBOR HE WAS EAGER TO SEE ACTION. HE VOLUNTEERED FOR GLIDER TRAINING. HE WAS THEN SENT TO GOODLAND, KANSAS, TO TRAIN IN 'DEAD STICK LANDING'. AFTER BASIC GLIDER TRAINING HE WENT TO TRAIN IN CARGO GLIDERS. AFTER GRADUATION FROM THE CG-4A WACO GLIDER COURSE HE RECEIVED HIS GLIDER WINGS AND HIS APPOINTMENT AS A FLIGHT OFFICER, AND ORDERED OVERSEAS TO ENGLAND. HE WAS THEN ASSIGNED TO THE 93RD TROOP CARRIER SQUADRON, 439TH TROOP CARRIER GROUP, IX TROOP CARRIER COMMAND, NINTH AIR FORCE AT UPOTTERY, ENGLAND. ON JUNE 6, 1944, THE 439TH TROOP CARRIER GROUP DROPPED ELEMENTS OF THE 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION, BY PARACHUTE INTO NORMANDY DURING THE NIGHT BEFORE THE D-DAY INVASION. HE WAS PILOTING A HORSA GLIDER LOADED WITH 30 TROOPS AND SOME HEAVY EQUIPMENT. HIS C-47 TOW PLANE HAD GONE OFF COURSE AND RELEASED THE TOW DIRECTLY OVER NORMANDY. THEY WERE SHOT DOWN AND CRASHED KILLING 15 OF THE 30 TROOPS. THE PLANE BROKE APART AND HE AND THE CO-PILOT WERE NOT FOUND UNTIL SOME TIME LATER DUE TO BEING UNCONSCIOUS AND THROWN INTO HEAVY BRUSH. HE WAS FIRST THOUGHT TO BE A BRITISH AVIATOR AND WAS IN-AND-OUT OF CONSCIOUSNESS FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS. WHEN HE RECOVERED SOMEWHAT HE FOUND WHERE HIS UNIFORM HAD BEEN STOWED, RETRIEVED IT, GOT DRESSED AND CASUALLY SLIPPED OUT OF THE HOSPITAL AND FOUND HIS WAY BACK TO HIS UNIT IN UPOTTERY, ENGLAND.