Road named for World War II hero Vernon Baker - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Road named for World War II hero Vernon Baker

Road north of Hayden to bear name of Medal of Honor recipient

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Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Vernon Baker's name is now firmly etched into the Kootenai County landscape.

County commissioners on Tuesday officially named a new road north of Hayden after Baker, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran who lived in St. Maries until his death in July.

Baker's widow, Heidy Baker, was thrilled to hear the news.

"Oh, I can't believe it. That is such an honor," she told The Press by telephone from her home in St. Maries. "This is absolutely wonderful. I thank everyone who was involved. I thank everyone for this."

The new Vernon J. Baker Boulevard is a frontage road that runs parallel to U.S. Highway 95 between Lancaster and Bentz roads in an unincorporated section of the county.

The commissioners first considered the road naming in November, and moved forward after confirming the action would not be in violation of any ordinances.

"It is something that we wanted to accomplish," said Commissioner Rick Currie. "My only problem with it is, 'Why do we always wait until they've passed away when we do these things?' He's very deserving, and it should have been done while he was still with us."

Baker received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Clinton in 1997. He was one of seven African-American soldiers to receive the medal - the military's highest honor - more than 50 years after World War II ended. Baker was the only one still living to accept the award.

He died in July and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Baker received the congressional medal for the heroism of his actions during a battle near Viareggio, Italy, in April 1945.

He led his company's attack against a strongly entrenched enemy in mountainous terrain. When his company was stopped by a concentration of enemy fire, Baker crawled forward, destroying six machine gun nests, two observer posts and four dugouts. On the following night, he voluntarily led a battalion through enemy mine fields and heavy fire.

Noelan "Mac" McCormack, a Marine Corps League member from Coeur d'Alene, spoke to the commissioners Tuesday at their meeting.

"I told them, 'It's an honor to be able to look at our veterans that have done so much to keep us free from tyranny," McCormack said. "It's a great honor for us to be able to do this."

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  • Randy Myers posted at 11:47 am on Wed, Dec 29, 2010.

    Randy Myers Posts: 1635

    Bout time ! I suggested they name Skyview Elementary after him when it was built. Still not too late. This man was a true hero...humble, self effacing, courageous.

    @Tom Katt...Show me another WW2 Medal of Honor winner in North Idaho. Any race.

    @ Take......Stuff it. Read Vernon Baker's story. There is no contradicting the fact he is a legend of a warrior and a Medal of Honor winner. You, on the other hand, are a cheapshot artist who hides in the shadows and enjoys spouting your spew about, in this case.....a REAL man. Unlike you.

  • Honoring Our Vets posted at 11:41 am on Wed, Dec 29, 2010.

    Honoring Our Vets Posts: 18


    You might remember the first Medal of Honor recipient recognized by exact same Commissioners was Col.
    Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, USMC. They named the CdA Airport Pappy Boyington Field at the initiation of the Marine Corp League. Our Commissioners honor Medal of Honor recipeints

  • TomKatt posted at 10:22 am on Wed, Dec 29, 2010.

    TomKatt Posts: 125

    So how many roads are named after White vets? What are you telling us commissioners, that you could not find any White men worthy enough? A big slap in the face to all our White vets in the name of political correctness....

  • Honoring Our Vets posted at 6:41 am on Wed, Dec 29, 2010.

    Honoring Our Vets Posts: 18

    Hey TakeBackTheUSA, if you have a problem with 1st Lt. Vernon J. Baker, why don't you just spill it? It was the political correctness of 1945 which kept Vernon from receiving the Medal of Honor on the field which he richly deserved.

    For over 5 decades, Vernon never asked for the Medal, no recipient ever has. Like all the Men of Valor who proceeded him, from the Civil War to our present men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, those recipients alive to receive the Medal, including Vernon, have always said something like "the true heroes are the men who fell."

    Is your problem with the story that 1st Lt. Baker knocked out less than 6 machine gun nests or what? Recognizing one WWII vet in no way negates the sacrifice of the millions of men and women who served and died for our country. Your complaint is petty and silly. In the future, when we drive our kids or grandkids on or by Vernon J. Baker Blvd., it gives us an opportunity to tell them about the generation represented by Vernon. It's wonderful!.

    Thank you Commissioners for doing the right thing.. It is our honor as citizens of Kootenai County to remember our heroes.

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 5:31 am on Wed, Dec 29, 2010.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    Why does the story about Baker keep changing? At the present rate we'll soon be told by the Press that he actually won WWII, Korea, and Vietnam all by himself. What's the truth? If he actually did what this article says, which doesn't equate with the original story, it seems like they could have found a more important road to name after him. Or is this all just another case of political correctness.

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