Robert Daniel Baatz, Jr.
|HOME OF RECORD:
Maple City, MI
|NEXT OF KIN:
Parents, Robert & Margaret Baatz
|DATE OF BIRTH:
2/19/1943 – 1/9/1945
|DATE OF DEATH:
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Robert Baatz Junior was born in Empire, Michigan, in 1925. His father, Robert Senior, was an Army veteran of the Great War who had turned to farming to support his large family. Robert Junior was the third of eight children living on the farm in 1940.
Baatz was sixteen years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He was compelled to wait more than a year before he was legally allowed to enlist; on February 19, 1943, he reported to a recruiting station carrying permission forms from his parents. Soon, Baatz was on his way to MCRD San Diego, where he went through boot camp with the 11th Recruit Battalion. Following additional infantry training at Camp Elliott, California, Private Baatz was assigned to Company B, 24th Marines as a machine gunner.
When he wasn’t practicing for combat with his new unit, Robert Baatz was getting into trouble. For being absent over leave in October, 1943 he was fined $20; the warning didn’t stick and a repeat offense in November netted him an additional $30 fine and 30 days confinement. The severity of the sentence may have been due to the imminent departure of the Fourth Marine Division for the Pacific; as it was, Private Baatz was sprung from the brig in time to board the USS DuPage and sail for the Marshall Islands.
Private Baatz seems to have performed well in his first battle, the invasion of Roi-Namur on February 1, 1944. His company was hit by a strong Japanese banzai attack that nearly destroyed one of its platoons – only the concentrated fire of the MGs and mortars of Baatz’s weapons platoon kept the line from crumbling. He spent the spring of 1944 at Camp Maui in the Hawaiian Islands before shipping out for combat once again, this time on Saipan.
Robert Baatz landed on Saipan on June 15, 1944, but when Baker Company took a roll call the following morning, he was nowhere to be found. He was entered on the muster roll as “missing” for the remainder of the month. It would be some time before word of his whereabouts reached his comrades – Baatz had been wounded shortly after the landing and evacuated to a hospital ship, which brought him to the Naval Hospital at Aieia Heights, Oahu. Following his release from the hospital, Baatz performed limited duty at Moffett Field, California before being honorably discharged for disability on January 9, 1945. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action.
After his discharge, Robert Baatz returned to Michigan. He took up residence in Traverse City, where in addition to finding civilian employment, he enjoyed flying lessons. He married June O’Conner on April 10, 1954, and raised a daughter.
Baatz eventually retired back to his hometown of Maple City, where he died in 1993 at the age of 61. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Empire, Michigan.