|Birth: ||May 31, 1915|
New Jersey, USA
|Death: ||May 7, 1942|
WW2 Navy Cross Recipient
Baker enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve as seaman 2d class on 21 January 1941 at Brooklyn, New York.
After flight instruction at Miami and Jacksonville, Florida, he was appointed naval aviator on 26 August 1941 and received a reserve ensign's commission on 18 September. After serving for two months in the Advanced Carrier Training Group, Atlantic, Baker joined Fighting Squadron (VF) 42 on 8 December 1941. Eight days later, the squadron, embarked in aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5), sailed for the Pacific Ocean.
On the morning of 7 May 1942, during the early phase of the Battle of the Coral Sea, Baker flew one of the Grumman F4F-3 "Wildcat" fighters that escorted the planes of Torpedo Squadron (VT) 5 in their attack on the Japanese carrier Shoho. He assisted in the destruction of three fighters from the enemy carrier's combat air patrol and enabled VT 5 to escape unscathed after its successful attack and to return to Yorktown without loss.
Late that afternoon, planes from the Japanese carriers Zuikaku and Shokaku attempted a dusk attack on Task Force 17, but ran into inclement weather and the combat air patrols from Yorktown and USS Lexington (CV-2). One of the pilots who scrambled in the waning daylight to intercept the Japanese, Baker helped to break up the attack. Skillfully using his homing gear, Baker guided VF 42's airborne pilots back to the ship.
However, as Yorktown's gunners thought the circling planes to be Japanese and opened fire, VF 42's pilots scattered to avoid destruction. Thereafter, Baker proved unable to pick up the carrier's homing signal, and became disoriented. Despite the determined efforts of Yorktown to guide the young pilot back to the ship by radio, he was never seen again.
BAKER, JOHN DRAYTON (KIA)
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to John Drayton Baker (0-104123), Ensign, U.S. Navy (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron FORTY-TWO (VF-42), embarked from the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CBV-5), in action against Japanese forces during the Air Battle of the Coral Sea on 7 May 1942. In company with three other fighters acting as escort for our own Torpedo Planes in an attack on an enemy carrier, Ensign Baker attacked and greatly assisted in the destruction of three enemy fighter planes. His daring and aggressiveness aided materially in the completion of the mission, resulting in the sinking of the carrier. That evening, as part of the combat air patrol, he attacked and dispersed a group of hostile Scouting Planes in the vicinity of our own carrier. He failed to return from this attack. His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.
Commander In Chief, Pacific Fleet: Serial 2050 (May 8, 1942)
Born: May 31, 1915 at Plainfield, New Jersey
Home Town: Plainfield, New Jersey
Tablets of the Missing Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
National Capital Region, Philippines
Created by: Jeff Hall
Record added: Apr 12, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 88429603