Mission flown on 30 October 1970. 1stLt. C. Gary Baker awarded a Single Mission Air Medal
STARS AND STRIPES
FOR THE U.S. ARMED FORCES OF THE PACIFIC COMMAND
|Vol. 26, No. 335||
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1970
Saves Sick Marine
DA NANG, Vietnam (Special)
The "can do" flying skill of a Marine Aircraft Group 16 pilot from Marble Mountain Air Facility made the difference in the saving of a Marine infantry- man's life, when he flew a medical evacuation mission under extremely adverse conditions.
1stLt. Gary Baker, pilot of a CH-46D Sea Knight from Marine Medium Heli- copter Squadron 364 and his co-pilot, 1stLt. Jeffrey C. Morhardt, were flying medical evacuation missions during the aftermath of Typhoon Kate.
"We had been extremely busy all day," Baker said. "We had flown more than five hours and were just about to be relieved by the night crew when we were called on an emergency medical evacuation seven miles west southwest of Da Nang. It was dark and the weather was deteriorating."
The gunships, which usually accompany a medical evacuation helicopter, had been diverted to a civilian evacuation mission. 1stLt. Baker's CH-46 launched without them.
Baker approached the area of the evacuation, a ground position close to the mountains. The ceiling was down to 300 feet.
"I didn't think we'd be able to get into the area because of the weather condi- tions," Baker recalled.
"I checked with the ground unit again. The Marine was running a high fever and was seriously ill."
"That was it as far as I was concerned. I knew that the mission would have to be successful."
With crew chief, Cpl. Stephen V. Prescott, hanging out the aft windows and Morehardt scanning the dark clouds for the ground position, the pilot contin- ued forward.
"The Marines on the ground popped an illumination round and asked if I could see it," the pilot said, "I couldn't. I was beginning to get a little desperate. I asked them to try again."
The infantrymen fired another illumination round. Through the clouds and rain Baker saw it reflecting dimly on the low-lying clouds.
With the illumination of hand flares and strobe light on the ground, plus the aircraft's lights, Baker managed to get into the landing zone and pick up the stricken Marine.
Once the passenger was aboard, Baker rushed to a nearby medical facility.
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