William Don Baker

Baker Baker

1st Lt. William Don Baker, passed away 6 April 2013 at the Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas after a brief illness.  Don was a graduate of Hoover High School, San Diego, Calif.  He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in March of 1942.  Don went to work for Consolidated Aircraft building Liberators.  He worked for 10 months, then was called to active duty in February 1943.

After training and receiving his wings, Don was sent overseas in August 1944.  He was assigned to the Fifteenth Air Force, 55th Bomb Wing, 464th Bombardment Group, 779th Bomb Squadron at Pantanella, Italy.

Don flew 11 combat missions.  On 2 December 1944 Don was flying a mission as a substitute co-pilot to make up a mission he missed earlier.  This flight was with the 777th Bomb Squadron. They were flying the "Yellow Love" (Yellow L).  The target was South Bleckhhamer, Germany.

It was a long haul with heavy flack expected.  Once over the target and their bombs dropped, they were hit by flak, losing two engines, and fuel flowing up through the bomb bay doors. They were able to make it back over Yugoslavia where they all bailed out.  Don injured his left leg after parachuting down.  Thanks to Tito’s partisans the crew eluded being captured by the Germans.

The crew had to walk 120 miles through snow and ice to safety.  One of their partisan guides froze to death during the hike.  Don finally made it back to allied lines after being listed as a Missing In Action (MIA).

Don wired his mother in February to let her know that he was safe and well.  After he was discharged he returned to California in 1957.  Don fell in love and married Dana Price Baker in 1959, who flew as a stewardess for Pacific Southwest Airlines.  While Don was serving his country flying Liberators overseas, Dana was entertaining at the War Bonds shows, singing and dancing.

Don never talked about the war until the last few years.  Don and his three brothers all fought in World War II.  Don’s oldest brother was on a destroyer that was bombed at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.  Don was a good man, a kind man and a real American Hero.