A week after Sen. Dirk Kempthorne introduced a bill to pay a St. Maries man a $64,000 retroactive pension for winning the Medal of Honor, Rep. Helen Chenoweth is sponsoring similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Vernon Baker and two other men, Edward Carter and Charles Thomas, would receive the accumulated stipend they missed out on when Congress failed to honor them for their World War II heroism.
Twenty-eight white soldiers received the medal from President Harry Truman in 1945; no black soldiers who fought in World War II received the Medal of Honor until a White House ceremony held last January honored seven men, including Lt. Baker.
Baker is the only surviving member of the group. Of the six others, Carter and Thomas are the only ones with surviving family members.
Under Chenoweth’s bill, their relatives would be entitled to their pensions.
“These American heroes waited a half-century for their government to do the right thing, and only Vernon Baker lived to see it,” Chenoweth wrote in a letter to other representatives. “Let’s not wait any longer to correct this oversight.”