Local veterans in need of Christmas

By Jillian Capobianco - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - When we think of giving during the Christmas season, we often think of children and families, but there are others in need, including veterans.

This Sunday is the 10th annual Charity Ride. It helps bring Christmas presents to hospitalized veterans at Dorn V.A. as well as their two homeless shelters. Medal of Honor recipient John Baker says it's what Christmas is all about.

With his 5'2" stature and strong silent demeanor, you may just walk by Baker in the lobby of Dorn V.A. Hospital, but if you did, you would miss out on the stories he could tell. They're stories as to why there is now a bridge and a monument in his name.

On November 5th, 1966, John's life would never be the same. He was fighting in Vietnam when his unit came under fire. Men were going down, but Private First Class Baker stepped in. "I knocked out eight machine gun bunkers and carried eight of my wounded soldiers back to be evacuated," says Baker.

It was his heroism that awarded him the highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. Baker says it was amazing when President Johnson pinned the nation's highest military decoration on him. "I felt great at the time," says Baker, "When they read the citation, I just felt like I was right back."

42 years later, Baker still says the medal is not just his own. " I wear it, not because I won it," says Baker, "It belongs to the men that served our great country of ours. It belongs to them, not me."

It's the love he has for his military brothers that has him involved in this year's Vets' Christmas Charity Ride. The ride raises money to give veterans staying at Dorn V.A. at Christmas. " They're my brothers, my family," says Baker.

The 10th annual Vets' Christmas Charity Ride is happening Sunday, December 12th at 2:00pm. Riders will meet at the Carolina Honda Powerhouse store on 901 Buckner Road in Columbia and depart for the Dorn V.A. Hospital.

You can find out more by calling (803) 252-3381, and to read more about how you can get involved in or donate to this cause, click Give Veterans a Christmas.

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