After WW II, Hartley H. Baird Jr. of Pittsburgh was discharged from the Army (Army Air Corps) as a Private First Class. He served with the 9th Air Forces’ 30th Air Depot, but he wasn’t an airman. His job throughout the war was to keep the ground machinery in good working order—anything with wheels that moved planes, parts, personnel, or payloads.
Hartley’s contribution to the war effort was exemplary, but it wasn’t glorious. Not all soldiers were Hollywood heroes, braving enemy fire, undergoing dangerous missions, rescuing the innocent and helpless. Most soldiers—simply by doing their jobs with diligence and commitment—contributed to the heroic effort to win the war, even if that meant changing a flat tire, overhauling a jeep engine, gassing up the next truck convoy, or typing out a parts request. It all added up to victory.
This interview is a production of the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, in partnership with the nonprofit Veterans Breakfast Club. It was recorded November 21, 2013 at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Todd DePastino, interviewer.