In October 2022, dozens of Fort McCoy community members took time to help celebrate the 102nd birthday of retired Army Lt. Col. Harry Baker — a World War II veteran who served with C Battery, 302nd Field Artillery Battalion, 76th Infantry Division at then-Camp McCoy in 1943-44.

Baker trained at McCoy and deployed from the post with his battery of 500 men in November 1944.

Looking at the history of the 76th, according to, the division was a unit of the Army “in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

“The division was deactivated in 1996 and has been reconstituted as the 76th U.S. Army Reserve Operational Response Command in 2013.”
History shows the division began training for war at Camp McCoy in September 1943 where the unit focused on winter training.

This training focused on the use of skis, snowshoes, toboggans, snow tractors, snow goggles, winter camouflage suits, Eskimo parkas, and more.

Written in a training notebook by Staff Sgt. Melvin Wagner with Company B, 417th Infantry Regiment, 76th Infantry Division, while training at Camp McCoy for that winter training, he made an important note.

“The colder it gets, the more a man thinks to himself — to hell with his equipment,” Wagner wrote in the composition book donated to the Fort McCoy History Center. “It is the responsibility of NCOs to check men constantly.”

Wagner’s training notes also covered everything from diagrams of skis and snowshoes as well as conduct of how to properly teach winter skills.
As a noncommissioned officer, it was likely he was teaching other Soldiers the same skills he had learned.