WASHINGTON — The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced earlier this year in April that U.S. Army Air Forces Lt. Col. Addison E. Baker, 36, killed during World War II and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, was accounted for on April 8, 2022.
Baker’s remains were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on September 12, 2022.
Currently, more than 400 Medal of Honor recipients ranging from the Civil War to current conflicts are represented at Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s most hallowed shrine to military service.
Baker, a native of Chicago, Illinois, served as the pilot of a B-24D Liberator nicknamed “Hell’s Wench” and as a commander with the 328th Bombardment Squadron, 93rd Heavy Bombardment Group (Heavy), 9th Air Force. On Aug. 1, 1943, Baker suited up and took flight in support of Operation TIDAL WAVE, the largest World War II bombing mission over the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, Romania. While approaching the target, his aircraft was hit by a large-caliber anti-aircraft shell.
When his aircraft was seriously damaged and set on fire, Baker ignored the fact that he was flying over terrain suitable for a safe landing, refusing to withdraw his aircraft and jeopardize the mission. Instead, he led the formation to the target, upon which he dropped his bombs with devastating effects.
Afterward, the Hell’s Wench finally left the formation, but Baker's attempts to gain sufficient altitude to allow his crew to escape was prevented by damage done to the aircraft. While managing to avoid crashing into other aircraft in the formation, the Hell’s Wench crashed into the town of Ploesti, killing Baker.
Lt. Col. Baker risked his own life to save the lives of the squadron. Through extraordinary flying skill, gallant leadership and intrepidity, he rendered outstanding, distinguished and valorous service to our nation.
“We all strive each and every day to live up to the legacy of heroes like Lt. Col. Addison Baker,” said Gen. James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army. “He epitomizes what it means to be a leader, paying the ultimate sacrifice to save others and complete the mission. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and will be forever grateful to him and others of our Greatest Generation.”
In recognition of his valiant leadership and his flying skills, Baker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Baker is also memorialized on the “Tablets of the Missing” at the Florence American Cemetery in Impruneta, Italy.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website.
Lt. Col. Baker’s Medal of Honor citation can be found on the Army's Medal of Honor website.