Baker, Addison Earl, Lt Col

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1060-Bombardment Unit Commander
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1942-1943, AAF MOS 1060, 93rd Bombardment Group, Heavy
Service Years
1929 - 1943
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia
Lieutenant Colonel

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

39 kb

Home State
Illinois
Illinois
Year of Birth
1907
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Baker, Addison Earl, Lt Col.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Chicago, Illinois
Last Address
Benghazi, Libya

Casualty Date
Aug 01, 1943
 
Cause
MIA-Finding of Death
Reason
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Location
Romania
Conflict
World War II
Location of Interment
American Cemetery - Florence, Italy
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Walls of the Missing
Military Service Number
Not Specified

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 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
World War II FallenMedal of Honor Recipients
  1943, World War II Fallen3
  1943, Medal of Honor Recipients - Assoc. Page

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US Army (USA)Aviation Cadet Flight SchoolUnited States Army Air Forces (USAAF)Army National Guard (ARNG)
US Air Force328th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy93rd Bombardment Group, Heavy
  1929-1930, US Army (USA)
  1930-1931, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1931-1932, AAF MOS 770, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
  1932-1940, Army National Guard (ARNG)
  1940-1941, AAF MOS 791, 112th Air Operations Squadron
  1942-1943, AAF MOS 1060, 328th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1942-1943, AAF MOS 1060, 93rd Bombardment Group, Heavy
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1943 WWII - European Theater of Operations/Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)
  1942-1943 WWII - European Theater of Operations/Tunisia Campaign (1942-43)
  1943-1943 WWII - European Theater of Operations/Sicily Campaign (1943)
  1943-1943 WWII - European Theater of Operations/Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)/Operation Tidal Wave
 My Aircraft/Missiles
BT-13 Valiant  PT-13 Stearman  B-24 Liberator  
  1929-1929, BT-13 Valiant
  1929-1930, PT-13 Stearman
  1941-1943, B-24 Liberator
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Addison Earl Baker was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 1, 1907. After graduating from high school, he worked as an automotive mechanic.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 17, 1929. After basic training, he was posted to assignments at Fort Hayes, Ohio and Fort Crockett, Texas. In 1930, he applied for, and was accepted as an Aviation Cadet in the USAAC. He took primary training at Brooks AAB, Texas and advanced training at Kelly AAB, Texas. On February 27, 1931, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, awarded pilot wings, and assigned to Selfridge AAB, Michigan where he served until relieved from active duty in 1932.

He joined the Ohio National Guard, and owned his own business, a service station. He worked at this trade until recalled to active duty in 1940. He was assigned to the 112th Observation (Operations) Squadron at Pope AAB, North Carolina as Operations Officer. He soon was transferred to the Tow Target Detachment of the squadron.

Baker was sent to Barksdale AAB at Shreveport, Louisiana where he was assigned as Commanding Officer of the 93rd Bomb Group as a Captain. He was promoted to Major in May, 1942. He led the 93rd to England in 1943 as a Lieutenant Colonel and joined the 8th Air Force in England. He took a contingent of the 93rd Bomb Group to Benghazi, Libya on May 17, 1943, in anticipation of participating in Operation Tidal Wave, a concerted effort to attack Germany's oil reserves.

Baker was selected to fly lead aircraft of an element to attack the oil refineries and storage facilities at Ploesti, Romania on August 1, 1943. The aircraft left Libya, flew across the Mediterranean Sea, and entered Romanian airspace. Because of weather conditions and the lead navigator crashing, most of the formation turned toward Vienna. Baker, sensing the mistake, broke radio silence and rallied his group and continued to Ploesti, one of the heaviest defended areas of enemy territory.

Dropping down to 300 foot level, Baker led his element toward Ploesti. Three miles from the target, heavy flak was encountered. Baker's plane took a direct hit in the nose, which blew off most of the nose and killed the bombardier. Several more rounds struck the aircraft, and number 2 engine burst into flame. The fire spread to the wing fuel tanks, the fuselage tanks, and the cockpit area. There were open fields where a crash landing could be attempted, but Baker continued his flight to the target. Accounts vary, but it seem that Baker, realizing he could not stay aloft, salvoed his bomb load to allow him to continue. He took aim at the twin smoke stacks of the Columbia Aguila Refinery and led his flight in for the attack. The aircraft continued to blaze, and one report states a crewman dropped from the nose wheel hatch, but no parachute was observed.

The aircraft fire increased, and enemy flak was continuing to hit the aircraft. Baker resolutely held on and led his flight to a successful bomb drop. He then attempted to gain altitude to allow the crew to bail out. Accounts state that 3-5 crewmen (reports vary) tumbled from the aircraft, their bodies on fire. The aircraft dipped a wing momentarily and then crashed into the target complex.

For his actions that day, Lieutenant Colonel Addison Baker was recommended to be awarded the Medal of Honor. An article in Air Force magazine by W. J. Byrne, states his recommendation was held up for nearly a year in committee, with many members stating that because he broke radio silence and ignored orders, his conduct did not rise to that necessary for the award. But the award was approved, and in 1944, the award was recognized.

Baker's remains were never recovered, but he is memorialized on a plaque at Florence American Military Cemetery in Florence, Italy. He is also remembered in Valor Park at Wright-Patterson AFB, as well as with a memorial at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

His Medal of Honor citation:
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS
DURING World War II
Service: Army Air Forces
Division: 9th Air Force (Attached)
GENERAL ORDERS:

War Department, General Orders No. 20 (March 11, 1944)

CITATION:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Colonel (Air Corps) Addison Earl Baker (ASN: 0-280827), United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of while serving with the Headquarters, 93d Bombardment Group (H), Ninth Air Force (Detached from the Eighth Air Force), in action with the enemy on 1 August 1943. On this date Colonel Baker led his command, the 93d Heavy Bombardment Group, on a daring low-level attack against enemy oil refineries and installations at Ploesti, Rumania. Approaching the target, his aircraft was hit by a large caliber anti-aircraft shell, seriously damaged and set on fire. Ignoring the fact he was flying over terrain suitable for safe landing, he refused to jeopardize the mission by breaking up the lead formation and continued unswervingly to lead his group to the target upon which he dropped his bombs with devastating effect. Only then did he leave formation, but his valiant attempts to gain sufficient altitude for the crew to escape by parachute were unavailing and his aircraft crashed in flames after his successful efforts to avoid other planes in formation. By extraordinary flying skill, gallant leadership and intrepidity, Lieutenant Colonel Baker rendered outstanding, distinguished, and valorous service to our Nation.

   
Comments/Citation


  Aircraft involved in this action was B-24D #42-40994,"Hell's Wench." No authentic photograph of this aircraft exists; however, witnesses state the nose art was a picture of a blond, vivacious woman wearing nothing but a red cape which billowed in the wind behind her.

Although Col. Baker was the Commanding Officer of the 93rd Bomb Group, this could have been his assigned aircraft. Major Jerstad, his co-pilot for this flight, was a volunteer. Many of the crews that flew the Ploesti mission were replacement crews from other units. It is not known if this crew was a regular or "make-up" crew, but the 93rd Bomb Group Mission Crew Loading List shows the entire crew as:

Lt. Col. Addison E. Baker      p
Maj John L. Jerstad            c-p
Lt    George J. Reuter         nav
Lt    Alfred W. Pezzella       bomb
       George P. Allen             g
       Charles E. Bennett       tt/feg
       John H. Carrol              radio
SSgt Morton O. Stafford      g
        Edgar C. Faith              g
        William O. Woods       g

NOTE: The Loading List has names and positions, no rank. Rank as shown here derived from other sources.
Missing Air Crew Report 331 applies here, but so far no complete copy has been found.

Information forwarded by Steve Birdsall suggests that Lt George J. Reuter may have come to England as part of Keith Byington's crew on B-17 # 41-21435, 327th BS, 92 BG in August, 1942
This same information states Lt Pezzella may have been with Roland Sargent's crew on B-17 41-24400, "Society Gal."
In addition, it states Sgt Stafford may have flown with this last named crew as flight engineer.

 
   
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