U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick is donating his frequent flier miles to the family of Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker so they can attend his burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Sept. 24.
Baker died at home in St. Maries on July 13 at age 90 from complications of brain cancer. He was the only living black World War II veteran to receive the nation’s highest commendation for battlefield valor when President Bill Clinton presented the medal to him in 1997 at the White House.
His widow, Heidy Baker, said this week that she and her daughter and grandson want to attend Baker’s funeral at Arlington, but can’t afford to. Minnick stepped in with the donation of frequent flier miles he has earned from business and campaign trips on U.S. Airways, the Associated Press reported.
In addition, donations are being collected at AmericanWest Bank branches for other trip expenses, such as hotels and meals. Donations to the Heidy Baker Donation Account can be made at any of the bank’s branches.
The bank fund was set up by the Post Falls American Legion upon the request of 1st Sgt. Ray Katus with the Post Falls National Guard.