BAKER, VETO HUAPILI
Name: Veto Huapili Baker Rank/Branch: E5/US Army Unit: Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Date of Loss: 06 October 1972 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 160400N 1081300E Status (in 1973): AWOL Category: Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2005.
REMARKS: RELSD VS NOV 1975
SYNOPSIS: In Vietnam, military experts devised a system to try to relieve the battle fatigue experienced in earlier wars by those who served long tours with their units intact. In Vietnam, soldiers were rotated after roughly one-year tours. The practice had noble intent, but it served to isolate the soldier and interrupted continuity. Virtually as soon as a man learned the ropes, he was shipped home and a green replacement arrived to fill the gap. Some were quite literally, in the jungles one day and at home the next. The emotional impact was terrific and thousands of veterans are dealing with it two decades later.
Vietnam was also a limited political war, and had peculiar problems: a vague enemy, restrictive rules of engagement, an uncertain objective, non-military State Department minds directing many aspects of the war. In certain periods of the war, military morale was lower than perhaps any other time in our history.
Adding to these factors was the extremely young age of the average soldier shipped to Vietnam. For example, the average combatant's age in World War II was 25 years, while Vietnam soldiers were 19. The young fighters became jaded -- or old -- or died -- long before their time.
For various reasons, some soldiers deserted or even defected to the enemy. Their counterparts in the U.S. fled to Canada, manufactured physical or mental problems, or extended college careers to escape the draft.
There are only a handful of American deserters or AWOL (Absent Without Leave) maintained on missing lists. At least one of these was known to have fallen in love with a woman whom he later learned was a communist. Another fled because he had scrapped with a superior and feared the consequences. This man was ultimately declared dead, and his AWOL record expunged. Most are on the list of missing because there is some doubt that their AWOL status is valid.
There is little information regarding those listed as AWOL on the missing lists. For instance, the Army does not maintain a missing file of Sgt. Veto H. Baker, who was reported AWOL from Da Nang on October 6, 1972. His story and his fate are unknown. However, it is known that his official status was changed by 1980 to reflect that he had been released in South Vietnam. Whether he was actually a prisoner of war or caught up in the exodus from South Vietnam following the war is not known.
Some of the reports among the over 10,000 received relating to Americans missing or prisoner in Southeast Asia have to do with deserters, although there is no evidence they have been asked if they want to come home. In light of the amnesty granted draft dodgers by the United States Government, can we be less forgiving of them?
1998 Veto Baker is deceased.
Dec 21, 2005
The latest copy of the December 2005 PMSEA from DPMO lists a hundred or so changes.... a list of about 100 errors, additions, omissions, etc. to DPMO. It was a compilation of all the .... middle names vice the initial, etc.
Now official in the PMSEA:
Veto Baker was a deserter, not a POW. He stayed behind when we came home. He has been changed to AR (AWOL/COLLABORATOR/DESERTER-- RETURNED vice the old designation of RR (RETURNEE).
Capt John Michael "Mike" McGrath USN (Ret)