On Saturday 25 July 2015, Purple Hearts Reunited partnered with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) and the Veterans MC to honor Vietnam War veteran and former Vermont resident PFC Bruce Allan Baker. In the morning, a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Sharon, VT kicked off the event, followed by a memorial ride from Sharon, along the National Purple Heart Trail, to the Essex Community Historical Society in Essex Junction, VT.
The lost Purple Heart medal was given to MSG Dan Landry of the Vermont Army National Guard, who reached out to Purple Hearts Reunited for help finding its rightful owner. The nonprofit organization Purple Hearts Reunited, along with partnering veterans service organizations, presented the medal in a public ceremony in Essex, so that the Historical Society could preserve the framed commemoration and make it available for viewing to the general public in perpetuity.
Bruce Allan Baker was born 21 May 1947 in Concord, NH. He lived in Burlington, VT as an adult and served with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, USMC. PFC Baker was KIA on 24 July 1966 in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, after sustaining wounds to the abdomen and chest. According to descriptions of the event, the Battalion Landing Team departed US Naval Base Subic Bay, Philippines on 13 July, began on the 16 landed in northern Quang Tri Province to participate in Operations Deckhouse II in the Gio Linh District and Hastings in Cam Lo District. On 24 July, 1966, approximately two kilometers east of Thon Khe (The Rockpile), Baker’s company engaged the enemy, and in the firefight, PFC Baker lost his life. His service and sacrifice are memorialized on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC in Panel 9E, Row 65.
PFC Baker is buried at Fairview Cemetery in Essex Junction, VT, and participants in the day’s events gathered there for a final salute to honor the Vietnam hero, 49 years and one day after he was KIA. PFC Baker’s father, Donald S. Baker, lived in Burlington, VT at the time of his son’s death but is no longer living. No immediate family members of PFC Baker were identified by PHR’s research, so the Purple Heart, found in an antique shop in VT, will be displayed to the public at the Historical Society.
This return ceremony was generously sponsored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, as well as donations from members of the participating branches of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.