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John BacaJohn Baca

Born: January 10, 1949
Providence, RI

War: Vietnam

Rank: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division

Location of action: Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam

Date of action: February 10, 1970

Medal received from: Richard Nixon, June 15, 1971

Official Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Specialist Fourth Class Baca, Company D, distinguished himself while serving on a recoilless rifle team during a night ambush mission A platoon from his company was sent to investigate the detonation of an automatic ambush device forward of his unit's main position and soon came under intense enemy fire from concealed positions along the trail. Hearing the heavy firing from the platoon position and realizing that his recoilless rifle team could assist the members of the besieged patrol, Specialist Fourth Class Baca led his team through the hail of enemy fire to a firing position within the patrol's defensive perimeter. As they prepared to engage the enemy, a fragmentation grenade was thrown into the midst of the patrol. Fully aware of the danger to his comrades, Specialist Fourth Class Baca unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his own safety, covered the grenade with his steel helmet and fell on it as the grenade exploded, thereby absorbing the lethal fragments and concussion with his body. His gallant action and total disregard for his personal well-being directly saved 8 men from certain serious injury or death. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Specialist Fourth Class Baca, at the risk of his life, are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Of Note:
John Baca Park, in Huntington Beach, California is named in his honor. At the park's dedication, Baca said:

“I am an ordinary citizen who answered my country’s call to duty and performed that duty to the very best of my ability. I pray that so naming this park will serve to instill in the minds of generations to come the idea that the liberty we enjoy must be ever so carefully guarded and when they are called upon to defend those liberties, they do so willingly, as I and so many others already have, in order that this nation, as we know it, shall not perish”

In 1990, as part of the Veterans Vietnam Restoration Project, John Baca, along with ten other members, went to Yen Vien, a village north of Hanoi, where they spent eight weeks building a health clinic alongside the Vietnamese.

Watch video clip of John Baca.

©2003 GWETA