“In all, Sgt. Baker was credited with recovering eight fallen U.S. soldiers, destroying six bunkers and killing at least 10 enemies.”
When Sergeant John F. Baker, Jr. received the Medal of Honor, President Lyndon Johnson remarked that he and his fellow recipient, a former West Point basketball player, looked like Mutt and Jeff:
It probably wasn’t the first joke Sergeant Baker ever heard about his height. But the real joke was on the Marines, who had refused him for being an inch too short.
Baker’s heroism extended beyond one terrible day in 1966. For the remainder of his tour he scouted Viet Cong tunnels, and, after receiving his Medal of Honor, sought to return to combat duty. Although his requests were denied, Baker devoted the rest of his life, both in and out of uniform, to serving fellow soldiers and veterans.
His obituary, from the Washington Post, gave us the opportunity to learn about different medals and ranks, as well as the military’s custom of saluting Medal of Honor recipients first.
Sergeant Baker’s obituary also taught us the following vocabulary: diminutive, disparate, mortally, evacuate, valor, indomitable, and gallantry.
Sergeant Baker’s father was a trapeze artist. Oddly enough, so was the father of the mathematical genius whose obituary we read last week.