Name: Veto Huapili Baker
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army
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
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.
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
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?
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)