Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Medal of Honor

A little over two years ago, I posted on a Medal of Honor recipient, Major Leo Thorsness. As I was reading his citation, it struck me how extraordinarily brave this man was in risking his own life to secure the safety of others.

I learned that, at that time, there were over a hundred living MoH recipients. I felt their names and their stories should not be forgotten. My mission, for the last two years, was to honor one of those heroes once a week, and salute them for their courage and sacrifice.

One of those men, the first one I had determined to write about, was Vernon J. Baker, who, just recently passed away.

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Vernon J. Baker, African American Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 90

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.

First Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker

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.
Rest in peace.

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Hat tip Home of Heroes

There are fewer than a hundred living MoH recipients today. Their names and their stories should not be forgotten. My mission is to honor one of those heroes here each week, and salute them for their courage and sacrifice. In the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors; the men it remembers.”

Cross posted at Say Anything


  1. This is a fantastic idea, I will be back to view info on other winners.

    by the way, did you see that the "stolen valor law" that prevented people from falsely claiming to be medal winners has been ruled unconstitutional.

  2. I hadn't seen that about the stolen valor law. That's too bad. Too many phony soldiers out there. I guess we'll have to go back to the old ways of outing them one at a time and embarrassing the hell out of them!

  3. Too bad our First Lady only became proud of her nation after her loser husband was elected TOTUS. One would think that merely learning American history and those whose bravery and sacrifice built her to the nation that she is would be enough to make one proud as soon as one was able to read and have a basic understanding of American history but I guess that is too much to ask of our current First Lady.

  4. Most who receive this award do so posthumously. It takes an unbelievable act of heroism to receive this honor.

  5. No doubt that these men deserve all the honor we can bestow upon them. That was one reason why it was so shameful at BO's inaugural, that he snubbed our living MoH recipients in favor of hanging out with Hollywood stars!

  6. correction to my previous comment. I erroneously said medal of honor "winner" when I should have state "recipient". My apologies to all.

  7. Not a problem, WMUR. "Recipient" is more fitting, though!