Friends, family and fellow service members gathered Friday at Fort Jackson, S.C., to say good-bye to Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr.
The Davenport native earned the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of eight fellow soldiers in a 1966 firefight with the Viet Cong, and the Interstate 280 bridge over the Mississippi River was named in his honor. The 66-year-old Baker died Jan. 20 in Columbia after collapsing at his home.
"Nobody had to explain to him the meaning of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage," Army Lt. Gen. Robert Foley said at Mr. Baker's service Friday. "These values were part of his basic character."
Click here for a slideshow of Friday's ceremonies.
Mr. Baker spent much of his youth in Moline, attending Moline High School before enlisting in the U.S. Army to serve in the Vietnam War. He went on to serve 24 years in the military, later working as a computer analyst at the Dorn Veterans Hospital in Columbia, S.C.
His military awards included the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He was vice-president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and a member on the Nation's Monuments and Cemeteries Committee. He was a member of the VFW, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, 25th Infantry Division Association and the 27th Infantry Regiment Historical Society.
As a member of the National Infantry Association, Order of St. Maurice, he was a recipient of the Primicerius Award, which is the highest designation for those who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the Infantry.
The State in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this story.