COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a simple token to recognize extraordinary acts of courage - the Medal of Honor. NBC Nightly News is profiling a different recipient each night leading up to Veterans Day, and we are going to introduce you to some winners with South Carolina connections.
One recipient is a Columbia man who dodged bullets to save lives in Vietnam.
Sergeant John Baker was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1968 for his acts of bravery during the Vietnam War.
WIS News 10's Craig Melvin had the chance to sit down and talk with Sergeant Baker about his experiences.
Craig Melvin: "What were your feelings when President Johnson pinned the nation's highest military decoration on you?
Sgt. Baker: "I felt great at the time. When they read the citation, I just felt like I was right back in battle again."
Sergeant Baker has never forgotten that morning at the White House, and he's never forgotten that morning in Vietnam. "We got word that one of our platoons that went out to set up a night ambush got trapped, so the next morning we had to go in and try to get them out."
According to his official Medal of Honor citation, Baker dodged bullets and carried eight of his fallen buddies to safety. "It's a job that you automatically do, you're trained to do. As soon as you see your buddies get killed and wounded, your mind automatically takes over and you have to do the job you were trained to do."
For the humble hero, that morning in Vietnam was all about his buddies. He never thought about a medal. "It's nice, medals. Medals ain't the prestige in life, it's knowing that you looked out for your buddies. That's the main thing - bringing them home."
Reported by Craig Melvin