Honoring First Lieutenant George Friedlander

The St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society honored the memory of First Lieutenant George Friedlander on the sixtieth anniversary of his death.  The event took place at his graveside in the St. Augustine National Cemetery, 104 Marine St, St Augustine, FL , at 12 noon on Thursday, March 17th.  Also Hal Baumgarten MD joined the event at the grave of Lt. George Friedlander.

Hal Baumgarten was a 19 year old private on D-Day. Jewish and originally from NYC, Baumgarten was in Company B of the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th. He landed in the 2nd wave on Omaha Beach in one of the most heavily defended parts of Omaha, the Dog Green sector below the village of Vierville-sur-Mer (as depicted in the movie Saving Private Ryan). Hal was wounded 3 times on D-Day and twice more on June 7th. He had 23 surgeries after June 6, 1944, to repair wounds suffered on the Normandy coast of France. Hal has written several books about his D-Day experience. The first couple of waves at the Dog Green sector of Omaha Beach (often referred to as the D-1 or Dog-One draw) below the bluffs which led inland to the actual village of Vierville-sur-Mer, suffered a casualty rate of almost 80 percent in the opening hours of D-Day. “A” Company of the 116th was first in at 6:30AM and the majority of those 29th soldiers were dead or wounded by the time Baumgarten’s second wave landed just minutes later.

The public was welcome to join the event at the St Augustine National Cemetery.

The story goes that at some point late in early 1918, John Phillip Sousa arranged a luncheon with Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels (a known philo-Semite) to complain about the quality of the instruments being supplied to military band members.  Daniels invited George Friedlander, a First Lieutenant in the 306th Field Artillery, 6th Battalion, 17th Regiment to join him at the luncheon. 

 During lunch, Friedlander, a Jew from New York asked John Philip Sousa to create a march for the Field Artillery Corps.  Sousa took a Civil War melody called “Caisson Song,” changed the key, harmony, and rhythm and renamed it “U.S. Field Artillery.”

 Thus, in part, Friedlander, is responsible for the song:

 Over hill, over dale, we will hit the dusty trail

As the caissons go rolling along.

Up and down, in and out,

Countermarch and right about,

And our caissons go rolling along.

For it’s hi-hi-hee in the Field Artillery,

Shout out the number loud and strong.

Till our final ride, It will always be our pride

To keep those caissons a rolling along.

 A modified version is now the official song of the US Army, per ALARACT (All Army Activity) 124/2013.