Military & Spies

Captain Abraham Baum - Distinguished Service Cross

Led a WW II task force to rescue allied POWs

Born: March 29, 1921 - Bronx, NY
Died: March 3, 2013 - Rancho Bernardo, CA

Captain Abraham Baum
Captain Abraham Baum
On March 26, 1945, 24-year-old Captain Abraham J. Baum, infantry, 4th Armored Division, U. S. Army was tasked with leading a mission behind enemy lines to rescue Allied prisoners from OFLAG XIII-B, a POW camp near Hammelburg, Germany. Although General Patton denied being aware of the fact that his son-in-law, LTC John K. Waters, who was captured in Tunisia in 1943, was being held at this camp, it was rumored that the task force was organized solely to save Waters.

The tall, red-headed, Bronx native led what was dubbed Task Force Baum with gusto. Accompanied by 296 men, Baum was wounded by enemy rocket fire but continued with the operation. Eventually the task force reached the camp and the prisoners were freed, but on their return back to the American lines they came up against heavy numbers of well-organized German troops who surrounded the men: "No less than an entire German Corps was diverted to the seeking out and destruction of the two company task force."

Eventually 32 of the task force were wounded, 9 killed and 16 were missing in action, presumed dead. Approximately 35 men made it back to safety, but Baum was shot in the leg while continuing to fight after he along with the rest of the survivors were captured by German troops.

Baum was liberated from a POW camp on April 5, 1945, 10 days after the mission. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on April 10, 1945.

Captain Baum’s fearless determination and his inspiring leadership and loyal, courageous devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.
Interesting Facts
  • Baum ended the war as one of the 4th armored divisions most decorated officers, along with the Distinguished Service Scross (DSC), he received Two Silver Stars, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman Badge
  • Patton recalling the rescue mission stated, "I can say this, that throughout the campaign in Europe I know of no error I made except that of failing to send a combat command to take Hammelburg."
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