24 January 2012

RIP: John F. Baker, Jr.

John F Baker Jr
30 Oct 1945 - 20 Jan 2012

ZUI this article from The State:
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 was born in Davenport, Iowa, and went to high school in nearby Moline, Ill. In 2008, the I-280 Bridge connecting Davenport with Rock Island, Ill., was renamed in his honor.

During the Vietnam War, Baker was a 5-foot-2-inches tall, 105-pound “tunnel rat” – a soldier who, armed with only a pistol and a flashlight, would crawl into enemy tunnels to clear them. He was one of only 239 service members to receive the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

There are now 83 living Medal of Honor recipients.

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Sergeant (then Private First Class), US Army; Company A, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

Born: 30 October 1945, Davenport, Iowa
Died: 20 January 2012, Richland, South Carolina

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. En route to assist another unit that was engaged with the enemy [in the Republic of Vietnam, on 5 November 1966], 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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