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HOLLY LAKE RANCH – Retired drillmaster Tommy Baxter volunteered to serve during the Vietnam War and agreeably risked it all, after complaint, to accomplish his appointment to the country.



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But aback awry record-keeping about asleep his contributions from history, the adept absitively to action for what he earned, spending years bent up in red tape.

Baxter assuredly accustomed his Air Badge aftermost anniversary during a appropriate commemoration at Holly Lake Ranch.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, whose appointment helped boldness the snafu, presented the accolade and an American banderole that flew over the nation’s capital.



“This wasn’t so abundant about a chase for a medal, but a action for authority and we won,” Baxter said afterward. “This is absolutely added accepted than bodies know.”

The adventure of the abandoned backbone could axis from the attributes of Baxter’s service.

He served the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1971 in a non-conventional role – a adopted accent specialist absorbed to the Naval Security Group, whose specialty was acquisition intelligence on adversary activities.

“The area we were amenable for was communications intelligence,” he said. “We had no accustomed appointment station, but were beatific wherever our abilities and training were needed.”

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The appointment amounted to connected change, accommodating in missions as needed.

Baxter abstruse several languages, including Vietnamese, and accomplished in air operations conducted by the North Vietnamese Air Force.

Some of his deployment was on two altered ships off the bank of Haiphong Harbour, afore actuality deployed to Danang Air Force Base in South Vietnam.

“While there, I was a affiliate of the ‘Big Look Spooks,'” he said. “We flew in three altered types of aircraft mostly off the bank of North Vietnam; occasionally, over the Laos and Cambodia border.”

His role was to accumulate an eye on the enemy, which meant accommodating in bombing missions and bond flights for appropriate and cardinal purposes.

“Tactical was to accord aboriginal admonishing to our fighters and bombers and to abetment in any all-important accomplishment missions if the charge arose,” he said. “Strategic was to accumulate up with their aeriform approach and asserts.”

He flew 491.7 hours of missions while assigned to Det. Bravo of fleet VQ-1 at Danang AFB in abutment of air operations, including a alarming November 1970 arrest on a captive of war admixture at Son Tay North Vietnam, annal show.

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“It was a 2 a.m. takeoff,” he said, abandoning the surreal acquaintance of watching Operation Ivory Bank disentangle from the aback bench of a plane, amidst blasts of adversary fire.

Baxter’s achievement becoming him an Air Medal, which is about awarded for admirable and ballsy assignment during aeriform operations.

He was accustomed for the account on Jan. 17, 1971, but it never came.

Years anesthetized and Baxter started authoritative inquiries.

There were few answers, but affluence of omissions on his DD Form 214 break papers, which accommodate an overview of duties agitated out by aggressive personnel.

“I arrested in the 1970s, and it still wasn’t on there,” Baxter said. “When I retired in 2004, at atomic I capital to get my DD 214 adapted … I started aggravating to clue it down.”

Staffers with the National Archives said there was no almanac advertence he was due a medal.

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Baxter eventually accomplished out to Gohmert’s appointment and enlisted a little advice from his old account buddies and above superiors.

Slowly, a contour began to appear – Baxter becoming and was advantaged to accept an Air Medal, and official annal accepted it.

The botheration was award the appropriate being to affix the dots and accord the above Navy man his accolade for a job able-bodied done.

It took two years to appropriate the wrong, but the alarm Baxter waited for all those years assuredly arrived.

“In August, she (Congressional abettor Lisa Blackmon) gave me a alarm and said, ‘You’re not activity to accept what’s sitting on my desk.’ It was my medal,” he said, cogent acknowledgment to those who accurate him.

Baxter said it’s cutting to apprehend belief about abridged and missing account records, and he encourages added veterans who face agnate battles to not accord up the fight.

His wife, Elaine, agrees.

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“It was absolutely nice to see him get the metal because he becoming it,” she said. “I still get new belief out of him from time to time. I appetite him to address them down, and maybe he will someday. He’s had some absorbing experiences.”

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Last Updated: January 26th, 2018 by admin