Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vernon Baker, belatedly honored hero, rest in peace

Posted on Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Vernon Baker, who exemplified the valor of black soldiers in the segregated Army of World War II, died Tuesday at his home south of St. Maries, Idaho, where he resettled in the years after the war, drawn to good elk hunting. He was 90.

Baker was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for courage, by President Clinton in 1997, more than 50 years after his deeds in northern Italy. Baker led 25 soldiers in a ferocious assault against a well-fortified enemy position, beginning a two-day action that finally helped the Allies breach the German army's Gothic Line.

Read Baker's Medal of Honor citation here.

Former Spokesman-Review writer Ken Olsen chronicled Baker's story for the newspaper and for a book, Lasting Valor, co-written with Baker. For an excerpt and some photos go to lastingvalor.com.

Olsen has also written a moving obituary in today's S-R. Baker is also eulogized in The New York Times.

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