Medal of Honor





Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company D, 1st Battalion. 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division


Place and date Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, 10 February 1970


Entered service at: Fort Ord, California


Born: 10 January 1949, Providence, Rhode Island




For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. 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, Sp4c. 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, Sp4c. 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 Sp4c. 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.

The following message was received on 9 December 2002:

John Baca and I were in the same company, Company D, 1st Bn, 12th Cav, 1st CAV Division (Airmobile) in Viet Nam. I joined the company on/about 16 July 1969 and left a year later-from "the bush" as an officer. As a platoon leader of two platoons in DELTA company and then as its Company Commander, I can assure anyone that John is one of those selfless people whose actions, in addition to his 10 Feb action, were consistently oriented to protect and save his fellow soldiers-that simply was "his way" there to all of us. His quiet manner was instrumental in calming his fellow soldiers in the many actions we had both on and before 10 February. His MOH citation does not do complete justice to John's actions on 10 Feb....he was simply, as he had been since he joined DELTA company, a giving and protecting person--- "...without complete disregard for his own personal safety..." only scratches the surface of John's performance during his entire time in Viet Nam. His MOH recommendation was unanimous from all members of the company. We missed his cheerful demeanor and value him as one of the GREAT AMERICANS we met during those troubled times for our Nation.



This photograph of John P. Baca was taken in 1982 by Doug James, Vietnam, 1967-68, Co E 2/60, 9th Infantry (, at the dedication of The Wall in Washington, D.C.


This photograph was taken in 1992 in Santa Monica, California. John P. Baca and his friends are at the start of a vehicular cross country caravan for homeless veterans. John P. Baca is on the left, wearing the Medal of Honor around his neck. Jon Wallenius & Nancy Wallenius in the center, and Ron Sleeis on the right.


Thanks to Ron Sleeis, for the above photographs.

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