|John P. Baca|
|Born January 10, 1949 (1949-01-10)|
John P. Baca, Medal of Honor recipient
|Place of birth||Providence, Rhode Island|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1969 - 1970|
|Unit||1st Cavalry Division.|
|Awards||Medal of Honor |
Medal of Honor citation
- For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4. 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, Sp4. 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, Sp4. 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 Sp4. 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.
After the warJohn Baca survived severe wounds received during the February 10, 1970 ambush.
In 2002, a park was named in his honor in Huntington Beach, California. At the park's dedication on April 27, John read the following poem he penned for the occasion:
- John Baca Park -
It's a playground for the young, a walk for the dog, These grounds will be blessed by the rain and the sun, free from the smog. A refuge for the birds vacationing south, "Let's visit Baca's Park." Soon it won't be long for all to enjoy their song! My buddies and friends have joined me for this delight. Some unknown evenings I may be sitting upon my bench enjoying the quiet of the night. What is a park? A site of beauty, a place to rest. A place to stay, leave one's worries, also leave behind their stress of the day. A solitude visitor can be still, enjoy the quiet of their thought. One can hear the voices in the breeze, trees are clapping their hands, with the movement of the leaves. All humanity can find a space. All are welcomed to a safe, you might say sacred place. These grounds will be a witness for families, lovers and friends who picnic, play, hold hands and maybe embrace. It will be filled with harmony and song and the smile of God's grace. One last thing before I depart and be on my way, I sat on the bench and a swing in the park that was dedicated in my honor and in my name on this beautiful day. - John Philip Baca
In 1990, John Baca returned to Vietnam with a group of ten men from Veterans Vietnam Restoration Project. The group spent eight weeks working alongside Vietnamese building a health clinic in a village north of Hanoi.
John Baca rarely publicly speaks about the events of the February 10, 1970 ambush. He prefers to recount an incident that occurred on Christmas Day 1969. Baca was walking ahead of his unit, acting as "point," when he surprised a young North Vietnamese soldier sitting alone on top of a bunker in the jungle. Baca saw that the soldier could not reach his rifle quickly and not wanting to shoot him, yelled in Vietnamese for him to surrender. Not only was he able to take his "Christmas gift" alive and unharmed, the young man, twenty years later, was among Vietnamese that Baca worked with building the clinic in 1990.
John Baca remains active in social causes, particularly related to Vietnam veterans issues and the plight of the homeless.
- Vietnam Campaign Medal with device.