Last week, I posted on the support of Medal of Honor recipient Major Leo Thorsness for Senator John McCain. As I was reading the citation, it struck me how extraordinarily brave this man was in risking his own life to secure the safety of others.
I learned that there are over a hundred living MoH recipients today. Their names and their stories should not be forgotten. My humble mission, for the next two to three years, will be to honor one of those heroes here once a week, and salute them for their courage and sacrifice.
There are no surviving MoH recipients from WWI, so beginning with WWII, for your consideration:
For extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, near Viareggio, Italy. Then Second Lieutenant Baker demonstrated outstanding courage and leadership in destroying enemy installations, personnel and equipment during his company's attack against a strongly entrenched enemy in mountainous terrain. When his company was stopped by the concentration of fire from several machine gun emplacements, he crawled to one position and destroyed it, killing three Germans. Continuing forward, he attacked and enemy observation post and killed two occupants. With the aid of one of his men, Lieutenant Baker attacked two more machine gun nests, killing or wounding the four enemy soldiers occupying these positions. He then covered the evacuation of the wounded personnel of his company by occupying an exposed position and drawing the enemy's fire. On the following night Lieutenant Baker voluntarily led a battalion advance through enemy mine fields and heavy fire toward the division objective. Second Lieutenant Baker's fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his men and exemplify the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.
First Lieutenant Baker: We humbly salute you and thank you for your service.
Update: First Lt. Vernon J. Baker, 90, an Army infantryman who, more than 50 years after the end of World War II, became the only surviving African American to receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the war, died July 13 (2010) at his home near St. Maries, Idaho. He had brain cancer.
Hat tip Home of Heroes