Mission flown on 30 October 1970.  1stLt. C. Gary Baker awarded a Single Mission Air Medal

Vol. 26, No. 335
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1970
Bad Weather Flight
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.

1stLt. Baker               1stLt. Morhardt                                Cpl. Prescott

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