WARSAW — Silver Lake resident Terry Baker was honored as Veteran of the Month at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Baker was born in Warsaw on Feb. 7, 1950, to Wilbur and Cora Baker.
He enlisted in the army immediately following his graduation from Warsaw High School in 1968. Once Baker received his orders, he reported to Fort Campbell, Ky., for basic training.
From there, he attended advanced infantry training at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where he learned about fuel and electrical repair. He graduated at the top of his class in March 1969.
Baker then received orders for Vietnam, arriving in Lai Khê, Vietnam, in April 1969. He was assigned to the 101st maintenance battalion 1st infantry.
Baker said he was fortunate because the position he filled was required to be at an E-5 pay grade, so he was promoted to E-5 after less than a year in service.
“It took me six years to get to E-5, so that’s pretty good,” said Kosciusko County Veteran Affairs Officer Rich Maron.
Baker’s duties included repairing and troubleshooting fuel and electrical components of M-60 tanks, personnel carriers, 2.5 ton trucks and jeeps at the base motor pools.
Baker was awarded the bronze star before leaving Vietnam in April 1970.
He was then re-assigned to a maintenance battalion at Fort Knox, Ky. Soon after that, Baker received orders to go to Kornwestheim, Germany, where he worked in the motor pool for the remainder of his enlistment. Baker processed out in August 1971.
After returning home, Baker married Kristin Fields, who has since passed away. They had one daughter, Terra.
In 1979, he married Linda Whitaker. The couple expanded a medical billing business, working out of their home in Silver Lake for 10 years. They had a son, Eric.
Baker is currently single but involved in a relationship with Gloria Halterman.
Baker has four brothers — Jerry, Garry, Larry and Danny, who also served in the Marines in Vietnam. He also has three grandsons — Thane, Dorian and Maximus.
Baker was the main caregiver for his mother from 2008 until her passing in 2018.
“I appreciate Uncle Terry’s service to our country. Our family has had several members serve in the military. We love them for who they are and like them, we always will honor and remember the one who did not come home and all their brothers and sisters serving then, today and tomorrow,” said Baker’s niece, Andrea (Baker). “Growing up, I had heard stories of my uncles and grandpas serving in the wars, but never really understood the meaning and sacrifice that meant until I was an adult.”
He has been self-employed much of his life. He owned a service station on Winona Avenue. Following that, he worked as a service manager at Smith Ford. From there, he worked at Southern Life Insurance, then at Judd Cook Chevrolet, which later became Jack Ward Chevrolet. Baker returned to Smith Ford as their sales manager and later worked at Dee Munson’s Car Lot.
In 2005, Baker opened his own real estate company, Kosciusko County Lakes Realty, which he continues to operate.
During the 70s, he raced at the Warsaw Speedway and was track champion in his division in 1976.
“I apologize to everyone here,” Baker said Tuesday. “I was going to wear my uniform, but the only thing that fit was my socks.”
Once the laughter died down, Baker expressed his gratitude for the recognition by county commissioners.
“This is indeed an honor and I don’t take it very lightly,” Baker said. “As you know, it wasn’t very popular coming back from Vietnam back in my day and you guys have done a lot to make up for that — and I say that on behalf of all the Vietnam veterans and all veterans.”