Honoring Veterans Day, Everyday. A story of one of our many: Charles ‘Frank’ Baxter
- Second Generation, Baxter Construction Company
- Sergeant in the Army in the 44th Engineer Battalion, Construction, ‘The Broken Hearts’
- Korean War, 1952 to 1954
Drafted to war just days after his college graduation from Bradley University, Frank’s architectural degree helped place him as a draftsman in layout and design and equipment in his unit. After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, Frank was sent out to Camp Stoneman in California where he would then hurry up and wait with final training and as the Medics turned the mighty Engineers into pin cushions, bringing shot records up to date. “I was full of pee and vinegar for war….I had no idea what I was about to get myself into”. Aboard the ship he would pass under a foggy Golden Gate Bridge and sail for 10 days across the Pacific to (then) Pusan and taken to his basecamp at Inchon. Frank was in many battles, enjoyed his R&R, and worked on projects to rebuild Korea as well as advance forces to destroy it. “The bridge at the Han River was hard. I kept my head down I can tell you that”. What should of taken hours to build took a total of 4 days to construct while under constant heavy fire. Frank and other company members took to weeding out enemy fire up and down the river bank to then take turns to get the bridge built to take Northern ground. “We’d get a man up in the dozer and at times…it’d be within minutes he’d get shot down”. With strong advancement from the North the 44th was ordered to destroy the bridge just 3 days after completion to stop enemy expansion. Frank returned home health in 1954.
The Battalion’s nickname and ‘Broken Heart’ emblem was coined by an Alabama newspaper because of what was so quickly left behind at home…a trail of broken hearts. The original Battalion mobilized and set sail to the battle of Inchon in just one month. WWII vets knew that beach landings were chaotic with logistics to perform the set landing and operations plans and needing to identify the units tactically unmarked equipment, the emblem was painted on and it worked! Thus was born the Broken Heart, and on every project of the 44th the red Broken Heart mysteriously appeared.