Robert Freese was twenty-five when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. A month later, he was drafted. Following a few months of training in the States, Robert shipped out to Australia with the 32nd Infantry Division, the first US Army unit to take the fight to the Japanese. After playing baseball for the division and training for battle, Robert was transported north to New Guinea with the rest of the 32nd Infantry Division. In November 1942, after enduring a grueling two month journey through an unforgiving jungle environment just to get into position to attack, MacArthur’s forces engaged the Japanese at the Battle of Buna, now known as “Bloody Buna.” Robert was in the thick of the action, as the mission of his regiment was to take the two Japanese airfields central to the whole operation. The title Baseball, Battle, and a Bride: (An Okie in World War II) comes from Robert’s quest to play professional baseball before World War II and his place on the 32nd Infantry Division’s team, his role in the Battle of Buna and two amphibious operations, and his romance of Leona Nievar, which resulted in their wedding in November 1944 and, to date, sixty-five years of marriage.
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