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Vernon Baker, American Hero R.I.P. "You Raise Me Up"

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Uploaded on Jul 14, 2010

This is a Genuine G-Shot in honor of Vernon Baker, the only living black World War II veteran to receive the Medal of Honor in thie piece from the Spokesman-Review-- the nation's highest commendation for battlefield valor -- died at his home south of St. Maries, Idaho, Tuesday. He was 90.

Baker died after a long battle with cancer, family members said.

"I loved him. For me, he was the hero in my life," said Baker's stepdaughter, Alexandra Pawlik. "I named my son after him."

Baker will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, said family friend Lil Shanks, a spokeswoman for the family. "The Medal of Honor people have been notified," she said. "It's when they have the time and the opening for the ceremony back there."

A memorial service also will be held in St. Maries at a time that has not been determined yet, she said.

Baker captured that nation's heart in 1997 when President Bill Clinton draped the Medal of Honor around the tearful soldier's neck. This recognition finally came 52 years after Baker led a suicidal assault that helped the Allies breach the Gothic Line and drive the German Army out of northern Italy. His white commander deserted him and his men during that battle.

Baker became a symbol of the selfless sacrifice and courage of black soldiers who fought valiantly both to defeat the Axis powers and to gain full citizenship in the United States, which would not pass the Voting Rights Act or the Civil Rights Act for another 20 years.

"They were denied the nation's highest honor, but their deeds could not be denied," Clinton said during the White House ceremony. The president made a point of quoting Baker's personal creed, which kept the Wyoming native going during World War II and through his distinguished military career. "Give respect before you expect it. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Remember the mission. Set the example. Keep going."

"Those are words for all of us," Clinton added.

Colin Powell hailed the quiet, graceful infantryman for clearing the way for him to rise to the top of the American military. "I stood on the shoulders of men like Vernon Baker," says Powell, a retired four-star general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who joined the Army in 1958.

Vernon Joseph Baker was born in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Dec. 17, 1919. His parents were killed in a car accident when he was four. He and his two older sisters were raised by his grandparents. His grandfather, Joseph S. Baker, was chief brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad in Cheyenne and the most influential figure in Vernon's life. He taught his grandson to shoot a rifle and tasked the young Baker to help feed the family with rabbit and other wild game.


Vernon Baker, the only living black World War II veteran to receive the Medal of Honor -- the nation's highest commendation for battlefield valor -- died at his home south of St. Maries, Idaho, Tuesday. He was 90.

Baker died after a long battle with cancer, family members said.


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Genuine G-Shot by GARi Videography Gary Mondfrans Videographer G-Shots TV This is a Genuine G-Shots GShotsTV Videography Photography

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