Memorial Day inspires reflection for family
Published 3:42 pm Wednesday, June 10, 2015
The 2015 Memorial Day was special for my family. There are two graves in Brookhaven that are especially dear at this time each year. Two military heroes are buried there.
In the Brookhaven City Cemetery within sight of Brookhaven High School and BHS gym is the final resting place of my uncle, Elmer Baker. Elmer was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. After being wounded in the D-Day invasion, he recuperated in a hospital in Scotland. Sent back into action, he was killed in Holland during the fight immortalized in the movie “A bridge too far.”
On the day of Elmer’s death, my father, Fred A. Baker Sr., was recovering from head wounds in Aitape, British New Guinea. He had been injured while leading a patrol in pursuit of Japanese soldiers. His wounds on July 16, 1944, ended his active service in World War II. My father returned to Brookhaven in 1945 a decorated veteran — Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star. He also suffered terrible pain from his head injuries until his death in 1981. My father is buried in the Easthaven Church Cemetery, a mile from his brother. These two men were not professional soldiers. They were citizens who saw their duty and did it.
One came home and one didn’t.