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Vernon Baker service set for July 31

Fri., July 16, 2010, 4:26 p.m.

Memorial services for Vernon Baker, the only living black World War II veteran to receive the nation’s highest commendation for battlefield valor, will be held July 31 in his hometown of St. Maries, Idaho.

Baker, 90, died July 13 after a long battle with cancer.

He was awarded Medal of Honor in 1997 by then President Bill Clinton, a decoration that came 52 years after Baker led an assault that drove the German Army out of northern Italy.

Services will be at 11 a.m. July 31 at The Church of the Nazarene in St. Maries, 175 Grandview Dr. A reception will follow at the church. Baker will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Another public celebration of Baker’s will be held Wednesday at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene. The hour-long tribute will include a reading from Baker’s book, “Lasting Valor,” written by journalist Ken Olsen, and a screening of the NBC documentary by the same name.

“It’s a platform for the public to come together and pay their respects,” said Rachel Dolezal, education director. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Institute, 414 1/2 Mullan Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.


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