RIP MSG John Baker, MOH

 
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RIP MSG John Baker, MOH

We lost another one last week:

Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr., who received the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of eight of his fellow soldiers, killing 10 Viet Cong and knocking out six machine gun bunkers after his unit was ambushed Nov. 5, 1966, in Vietnam, died Friday evening after collapsing in his Northeast Richland home. He was 66.

Baker and his wife, Donnell, had just returned home from supper when he collapsed, said retired Maj. Gen. Gene Rogers of Columbia, a family friend. Baker had suffered heart problems and had been using oxygen for about a year and a half, Rogers said.

His citation, as most of them are, is simply jaw-dropping:

 En route to assist another unit that was engaged with the enemy, Company A came under intense enemy fire and the lead man was killed instantly. Sgt. Baker immediately moved to the head of the column and together with another soldier knocked out 2 enemy bunkers. When his comrade was mortally wounded, Sgt. Baker, spotting 4 Viet Cong snipers, killed all of them, evacuated the fallen soldier and returned to lead repeated assaults against the enemy positions, killing several more Viet Cong. Moving to attack 2 additional enemy bunkers, he and another soldier drew intense enemy fire and Sgt. Baker was blown from his feet by an enemy grenade. He quickly recovered and single-handedly destroyed 1 bunker before the other soldier was wounded. Seizing his fallen comrade's machine gun, Sgt. Baker charged through the deadly fusillade to silence the other bunker. He evacuated his comrade, replenished his ammunition and returned to the forefront to brave the enemy fire and continue the fight. When the forward element was ordered to withdraw, he carried 1 wounded man to the rear. As he returned to evacuate another soldier, he was taken under fire by snipers, but raced beyond the friendly troops to attack and kill the snipers. After evacuating the wounded man, he returned to cover the deployment of the unit. His ammunition now exhausted, he dragged 2 more of his fallen comrades to the rear. Sgt. Baker's selfless heroism, indomitable fighting spirit, and extraordinary gallantry were directly responsible for saving the lives of several of his comrades, and inflicting serious damage on the enemy. His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

 

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.