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Sgt. Edward Baroni 

 

Recently, we lost another Red Devil.  And I lost a friend.  Back when I was researching my first volume of Patton's Troubleshooters, one of the men I contacted was former Sergeant Ed Baroni, of the 702nd Tank Battalion.  I told him who I was, and explained that my uncle was Staff Sergeant Frank L. "Pappy" Ream.  Ed remembered my uncle from his training days at Camp Campbell, Kentucky in 1943.  I explained that I had volunteered to write the history of the 702nd Tank Battalion, so that the men who served might be remembered by future generations.  I asked if Ed had any war memories to share that I might use in the book.  His reply was no, that he didn't think his memories were important.  I got that response from many vets I tried to interview.  With most who responded like that, it was the last attempt I made to bother them for their stories.

 

What set Ed Baroni apart, was that he made it clear to me that he supported my efforts 100%.  He understood why I was doing what I was doing, and he understood how important it was for the future.  He encouraged me to keep working on it, and to not give up.  This was at a time in my life where I needed people to believe in me, to trust me.  Many people at that time could not envision what I was trying to do.  Ed understood, and was one of those few who believed in my crusade.  When the first book was ready to sell, Ed Baroni was one of my first customers.  After reading it, he was kind enough to write to me and thank me for what I'd done.  After that, I failed to keep in touch with Ed in the course of interviewing hundreds of other vets, publishing more volumes and just from life itself.

 

Recently, when I was contacted by Ed's Nephew that Ed had died, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My old friend was gone.  His nephew wanted to know more about Ed's service.  It dawned on me then, that what I had set out to do so many years ago had come to pass.  The serviceman himself was gone, and the next generation needed to learn more.  That was the goal of my book when I began it.  That was what Ed believed in, and why he supported my efforts.  Ed Baroni was a good man, and a man of vision.  I am grateful to him for believing in me and my history project at the time I needed it most.

 

Why would Ed be reluctant to discuss his war-time memories with me?  At the time, I believed that it was because he thought I couldn't understand.  That may have played a part in it, but I learned over the years that these veterans of World War Two still suffer from post-traumatic stress and nightmares just like any other soldiers from any other war.  The fact that six decades have passed do nothing to lessen the pain for many.  For some, booze helped drown the pain.  For others, like Ed, bottling it up inside and not talking about it is how they chose to handle it.  Having sat through interviews with battle-hardened veterans who cry while talking about a buddy that was killed has taught me that the pain is very real and tangible.  Ed Baroni was a tanker in C Company, 702nd Tank Battalion.  Combat deaths are never pretty, but when a World War Two tanker was killed, very often all that was left was bloodstains and small bits of flesh.  A armor-piercing round exploding inside of a M-4 Sherman made an awful mess.  For an 18-20 year old kid, seeing a best friend reduced to a smoking bloodstain in an instant can be an awful hard thing to deal with.  In nine months of front-line combat, the tankers of the Red Devil Battalion saw lots of horrible things that they would never forget.

 

Putting those thoughts into words is what my friend Ed could not do.  I understand that now.  I feel bad that he had to endure those memories alone, but I respect his choice.  I do wish that I could have at least gotten him to open up about his good memories, of which I am sure there were some.  If so, I might have more to share with his family today.  Ed Baroni will be missed by many people.

 

BARONI, EDWARD

 

Age 82. Survived by beloved wife Cherley Baroni. Also survived by one son Geary Baroni, one beloved daughter Diana (Tony) Fenech, and one grandson Mark Fenech, one sister Helen (Robert) Adams of Southgate and one brother Frank (Lillian) Baroni of Naperville, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters and one brother. Edward was born in Coupon, Pennsylvania, on January 24, 1924. His family moved to Lincoln Park in 1943. Edward is a WWII Veteran, U.S. Army Sergeant, Third Army E.T.O., The Red Devils 702nd Tank Bn. His tour of duty included England, France, Germany, The Bulge, Luxembourg and Austria. He earned a Purple Heart is France on September 18, 1944, and received an Honorable Discharge on December 4, 1945. Edward retired after 46 years as the Directory of Tooling, Detroit Product Team, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac Group, General Motors Corporation, Detroit, Michigan on August 1, 1988. Visitation will be Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at J.L. Peters Funeral Home from 1-9 p.m. Edward will be in state at church at 9:30 a.m., with funeral services immediately following on Wednesday, April 19th, at 10 a.m. at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Lincoln Park. A Rosary Service will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the funeral home. Burial will take place at Our Lady of Hope Cemetery.

 

 

Rest in peace Ed, your battles are done.  Thank you for serving your fellow man.  We salute you.

 

 

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