BAKER, ELMO CLINNARD
Name: Elmo Clinnard Baker
Rank/Branch: O4/United States Air Force
Unit: 357th TFS
Date of Birth: 25 January 1932
Home City of Record: Kennett MO
Date of Loss: 23 August 1967
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 211600 North 1063000 East
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Other Personnel in Incident: none
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK 06 September 1996 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. 2014
REMARKS: 730314 RELEASED BY DRV
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).
UPDATE - 02/97 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO with material provided by Col. Elmo Baker, USAF RET
ELMO C. BAKER
Lieutenant Colonel - United States Air Force
Shot Down: August 23, 1967
Released: March 14, 1973
Unit: 357th Tactical Fighter Squad
I was born in Morehouse, MO on 25 January 1932.
In 1963, I received my BA from Syracuse, NY. I joined the Air Force from
Weatherland, TX and in 1964, at AFIT, WPAFB in Ohio I received my BSEE.
After my release, I graduated with an MA from Central Michigan University,
and a ICAF from Ft. McNair Virginia.
I was shot down 23 August 1967 at Takhli while leading a roll-in for 18
F-105's. I was piloting an F-105D on my 61 mission over NVN. We were flying
over Bag Giang, ten kilometers north of Hanoi when I was struck twice by
37/57 MM Anti-Aircraft fire and caught on fire. I lost the hydraulics and
ejected at 4500' AGL at 550 KTS. The violent ejection snapped my left femur.
I was able to steer my chute to a rice paddy, but was captured immediately
and beaten violently by the villagers. I was transported by helicopter to
Gia Lam airport. In Hanoi, I was again beaten violently by a mob, Once at
Hoa Lo (Hanoi Hilton) my initial torture consisted of twisting my injured
leg and more beatings. My left thigh eventually received medical attention,
but the "gooks" just pinned it. The pin was removed in 1973. It was Russian
stainless steel about 14" long. Fifteen months after capture, I was held in
"cold soak isolation" for ten days in January of 1969. "Cold-soaking" is 24
hour confinement in an outside cage in 50 degree weather wearing only
shorts. I had occasional beatings throughout the first four years of my
captivity for communication violations.
Thoughts on the DRV: The most saddening thing about their society is the
Communist Party's control over the thoughts and minds of the people. The
guards, we noted, could be turned on and off like a radio. They could be
harsh or friendly, according to the order of the day from the camp
commander. They did very little of their own thinking. A dramatic
demonstration of this was just after the signing of the peace treaty, one of
them was asked, "Who won the war? " The guard thought a bit and then said,
"I don't know, I haven't read the Nhan Dan yet." He had to wait to read the
people's paper to see what he was to think. It's sad. Truth, in that
communist society is whatever the Communist Party decides to print for the
My impressions of America upon return: The most striking thing is a new
feeling of freedom and tolerance. For example: We were always tolerant of
religion. If one chooses a religion no other person criticizes it because
that is a basic tenet of our national character. Now the same feeling of
freedom and tolerance has expanded. It now extends to other areas of our
social life and permeates our national character with new, richer modes of
Alexander De Toqueville once criticized America for the "Tyranny of the
Majority," where social pressure tried to force everybody into the same
mold. If he could only be here to see the manifestations of our expanded
social tolerance now! Men's fashions, dress in general, is no longer
rigidly required or expected to be according to a social norm. Wear what you
like. It is marvelous! Women's Lib -- that's wonderful too. Let the women
say and do what they have always wanted to say and do, but were, by virtue
of their pedestal position, prohibited to do. LET EVERYBODY DO THEIR OWN
THING! So long as it doesn't harm another.
I love it! It is full-blooded American and I hope to see it grow. If I knew
what "my thing" was, I would do it without fear of condemnation by my
neighbors. Now they just smile and say, "He is just doing his thing." Poor
DRV, there is only one mode of behavior, one "thing" and it's dictated by
the Communist Party.
Upon his return, "Mo" Baker was awarded numerous medals, badges and
decorations which included, the Silver Star with 3 OLC, the Bronze Star with
Device, the Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 OLC, the Air Medal with 10
OLC, Purple Heart and the Legion of Merit.
Although Baker's wife divorced him upon his arrival home, his two children
chose to live with him. In reflection, he says the medical follow-up was
very good, but the Air Force was VERY inept at helping the returnees
re-adjust. He says they were usually assigned staff work, with little regard
for command experience gained in captivity. They were given no help on
getting their careers back on on track.
Elmo "Mo" Baker retired from the United States Air Force as a Colonel in
1978. He and his wife Honey were married in 1974. "Honey" Marjorie Connolly
was the widow of Ltc Vincent Connolly, Killed in Action on 4 November 1966
on an F-101 rescue mission near Hanoi. They merged the families and raised
four children. They now have seven grandchildren and reside in Texas. Baker
is a college instructor, teaching Management and Supervision classes.
After forty years of procrastination, I finally finished my
memoirs about falling in love with aviation and
making my way into the AF, then into a career fling those magnificent flying machines. Of course,
the shoot down, capture and long stay at the Hanoi Hilton is the main bulk of the dialog.
Check it out at: http://www.amazon.com/ search the books for Mo Baker or the title
Serve With Pride & Return With Honor