WWII Hero & Medal of Honor recipient Vernon J. Baker
“Second Lieutenant Baker’s fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his men and exemplify the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.” – MOH
Vernon Joseph Baker (December 17, 1919 – July 13, 2010) was a United States Army first lieutenant who was an infantry company platoon leader during World War II and a paratrooper during the Korean War. In 1997, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration for valor, for his actions on April 5–6, 1945, near Viareggio, Italy.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Vernon J. Baker, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, while serving with Company C, 370th Infantry Regiment, 92d Infantry Division, in action 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.