Sydney A. Baker

Baker, Sydney A. is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps Reserve. For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight while serving with Marine Light Helicopter Squdron 367, Marine Aircraft Group Sixteen, First Marine Aircraft Wing in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of December 8, 1969, First Lieutenant Baker launched as Copilot aboard the second aircraft in a flight of two armed UH-1E helicopters assigned the mission of supporting the emergency extraction of an eight-man Army of the Republic of Vietnam reconnaissance team which had sustained three casualties, was surrounded, and was heavily engaged in combat with a hostile force deep in enemy-controlled territory. Arriving over the designated area, he found that heavy rains and a 200 foot ceiling would severely restrict visibility and his aircraft’s area of maneuverability over the rugged mountain terrain. When the beleaguered patrol’s position was finally pinpointed after orbiting and searching the area for thirty minutes, First Lieutenant Baker skillfully monitored his gauges, provided a continuous flow of vital information and delivered machine gun fire during repeated rocket and strafing runs on the enemy positions with such effectiveness, that the hostile fire was temporarily suppressed. When his pilot elected to join his section leader in extracting the patrol because the flight’s three transport helicopters had been forced to abandon the rescue attempt due to their low fuel state, First Lieutenant Baker supervised the jettisoning of all unnecessary equipment and aided in providing covering fire as the lead aircraft extracted three casualties and one other patrol member. Undaunted by the extremely heavy volume of enemy fire, he alertly observed and reported obstacles in the area and delivered a steady stream of accurate and highly effective machine gun fire as his aircraft landed, remained in it’s precarious position on the exposed hilltop to embark the remaining four Vietnamese, and then lifted with its heavy load out of the hazardous area. Although his aircraft had been damaged by hostile fire, he aided his pilot in maneuvering his gunship on a low altitude flight over enemy-infested territory and landed safely at the Quang Tri Combat Base. First Lieutenant Baker’s courage, superior airmanship, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger were instrumental in saving the lives of the Vietnamese soldiers and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.