War-Stories.com
Vietnam & THAILAND

When you are dying from
AGENT ORANGE

What is a Brotherhood worth?

RIP Tom Baker,
Đà Nẵng AB K-9
366th SPS, K9

 

The number of deaths from exposure to Agent Orange and other chemicals are four times greater than the names on the memorial wall, and growing yearly.
Network President Jenny LeFevre, Agent Orange Victims and Widows Support Network, attributes more than 250,000 deaths to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide the U.S. military sprayed over Vietnam from 1962 to 1971.


What is a brotherhood of military comrades worth ... when you are dying from Agent Orange?
I want to share with all the reconnection with a Vietnam comrade and how his association helped him through the last three weeks of his life. It all began with a fellow Vietnam Vet passing on his concern regarding a dying vet in a VA hospital ....

I have included the major emails from the Vietnam Security Police Association, Inc (USAF) ... hundreds were not included.

Don Poss

Allan (Sully) Sullivan,
Tue, Jun 05 2007, 15:37:55 PDT
RE: Old Puppy Pusher, K9 Tom Baker, VA hospital

Don: Let me introduce myself. My name is Allan R. (Sully) Sullivan and I have the pleasure of being able to say that I was a security policeman from 1965 to 1978. Langley AFB 65/68, Clark 68/70, Grand Forks 71/71, Whiteman 71/72, Đà Nẵng 72/73, Whiteman 73/78.

I currently am on my 3rd year as commander of American Legion, Air Capitol Post 401 in Wichita, Kansas. In that capacity I made a visit to our local VA hospital to present them with a check of $1000.00 towards a new wheel chair van. (Now where the hell is this guy going with all this you ask?) While at the hospital we were visiting patients and old Air Cops seem to seek each other out. Especially when both were at Đà Nẵng. Long story short - one of those patients was a double-amputee named Tom Baker.

He asked if I new you and I remembered you from the VSPA site. He asked if I would contact you and let you know how to contact him.

His cell is phone is: (omitted)

Sully

From: Don Poss, Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:04 AM
RE: Old Puppy Pusher

Sully:

Thank you very much for passing on the info regarding Tom. I remember him very well as we were tent mates at Đà Nẵng. We also went R&R to Tokyo together. I am very sadden to learn of his being a double-amputee. I will call him today. When I think about Đà Nẵng I cannot help but think of Tom also. I know that Tom was a long time member of VSPA, but didn't renew a couple years ago and his email didn't work. I guess that was when he was having health problems maybe. I will see to it that Tom's membership is renewed as we waive fees for those having hard times.

Thanks again,

Don Poss,
VSPA Webmaster
Đà Nẵng K9, 1965-66

From: Sully, Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:59 AM
To: DonPoss-LM37@VSPA.com
RE: RE: Old Puppy Pusher

Don: That's good. I also let my membership go - and for the life of me I can't give you a good reason for doing that. I'm going to wait until 30 July 07 to re-apply . I'll turn 61 and will shoot for a life membership then.

Sully

From: Don poss, Tuesday, June 05, 2007 11:29 AM
To: Phil Carroll
RE: FW: Old Puppy Pusher

Phil:

I am grateful to Sully for putting me back in contact with Tom Baker, who was a terrific dog pusher too. He is now in a VA hospital as a double-amputee and it looks like that is a permanent home for him. I feel bad about losing contact with Tom, who was a tent mate at Đà Nẵng, and a long-time VSPA member, but when his email went dead I thought he had just lost interest or dropped out for a while as members do now and then. The truth is that membership was the least of his problems as he struggled to stay alive. I guess that shows that at our groups' advancing senior-status we should learn to check up on each other when they suddenly drop out of membership.

Don Poss

From: Don poss, Tuesday, June 05, 2007 5:33 PM
To: Phil Carroll
RE: K9 Tom Baker

Phil: I received a call from Sully regarding Tom Baker, who is the VA hospital, and now a double-amputee. I had a long phone call with him. We were at Đà Nẵng together, and he remembers several of our current members, and the night Jackie Kays was injured, and the night J.B., our tent mate was killed. His memory is sharp. The VA has treated him poorly, and it is only his veteran brothers that have helped him. Yesterday he had a family meeting to basically break it to them that the doctor told him he was not long for this world. He is penniless, and the VA even sued him for refund on his medical bills. Only a veteran's advocate put a stop to their denying his agent orange related illnesses.

PS: Sully is going to ReUP as a Life Member.

Don Poss

From: Alvin Matthews, Tuesday, June 05, 2007 6:56 PM
To: Don poss
RE: Ref your post about Tom Baker.

I suggest that we present him a warriors medal. I will get one engraved and send it to you for a senior tribe members signature. Maybe "Sully " will make it a VFW / VSPA function and present it to him. Feel free to call or email me a time that I can reach you by phone. I also suggest that we waiver his membership and allow him to be a current member. Thanks Brother for all you do. Alvin LM#127.
* [Editor's Note: Al Matthews passed away on 1/3/2008 from Agent Orange related illness]

From: Roger Lansden, Thursday, June 07, 2007 4:27 PM
To: Don Poss

Hi Don: Just a short note to let you know I called Tom Baker today.  We had a great conversation.  We talked 15 minutes or so but had to get back to work.  He will be 63 the 25th of this month.  I am working on getting him a calendar like I gave you along with a hat and a few other little things to send off to him.  Someday when I get back to see my brother in Wellington, KS I will do my best to look him up.  I also got an email from Jim Gish whose wife’s family is from Dexter, KS, just a few miles from Arkansas City.  Anyway, time to head out and once again. Thanks for making me aware of Tom.  I will put a post on the BB tonight letting everyone know I talked to him.

Roger Lansden

From: Don Poss, Friday, June 08, 2007 9:12 AM
To: Roger Lansden
RE: Tom Baker/ VA hospital

Roger: That is great news! Thank you so much for contacting Tom Baker. He is a great guy and was a great K9 handler and friend. It is sad to see his health failing due to Agent Orange.  The country still does not recognize the cost to our Vietnam veterans, whose names should be recognized as KIA in Vietnam ... as odd as that may sound, they were in fact killed in action or Line of Duty in Vietnam.  It is estimated that five additional Walls would have to be built to include their names. That will never happen.

Don Poss

RE: Tom Baker --
Roger Lansden, Fri, Jun 08 2007

I just wanted to let everyone know that I called Tom Baker (Allan Sullivan's post below) yesterday to Welcome Him Home As A Brother and that my prayers and thoughts are of him and his family along with the Brotherhood of the VSPA. Phone call to K9 Tom Baker, VA hospital today.

From: Steve Gattis, President, VSPA,Tuesday, June 19, 2007 9:19 AM
To: Don Poss
Regarding Tom Baker:


I have talked to him several times.  He is a great guy and I've had him laughing pretty hard.  I also talked to him about Jackie Kays and got other names of guys who may have knowledge.  I have also talked to his son, TJ.  Tom is not a member of the VSPA and was never really a joiner.  However, he gave me his word that he would send a copy of his DD Form 214 and complete the application I sent to his son.  Tom had his DD Form 214 at the hospital with him.  I told him that I would take care of everything else.  I did not tell him that I was going to pay for his LM.

As you know, Tom is still very very sharp. When we talked of his time as a street cop and as a Chief of Police, he told me about training and college classes he took.  Out of his great memory came words like "Escobedo" and "Mapp" which, as only cops from the our era know, were Escobedo v. Arizona and Mapp v. Ohio, both landmark case decision that affected us throughout our careers in civilian law enforcement.    We talked as if we had known each other forever.  I will be calling him again today.

When we talked about his weight gain, he told me that his heart was not processing fluids appropriately.  He also said that they were going to begin dialysis.  He said matter-of-factly that he thought he would lose some weight when they took the first leg in Jan 2006.  Not much happened and then they took the other leg in Nov 2006 due to infection.  He thought that since he had always been a very large man, surely he would lose some weight with both legs gone.  It was at that point when I asked if he had told the doc the secret about Air Policemen.  He said he was sorry but did not know what I meant. I explained that if he really want to lose some weight, he could tell them the secret known only to Air Policemen and Security Policemen, that we all had huge dicks and he would lose 175 pounds if they cut off his dick.  He must have laughed for two minutes.  TJ loved the joke since he was in a bar one time when his Dad was doing very well and he heard him tell somebody over a beer that the hole in the head of his dick weighed 12 pounds.

Must go for now.  Hope you're still laughing.  Thanks for introducing me to Tom.

Steve

Don Poss, Thu, Jun 21 2007, 14:35:25 PDT

Don: I called Tom Baker, x sky cop from Đà Nẵng AB, K9, 1965-66, and tent mate. Tom is in the VA hospital, a double-amputee, Agent Orange Type II diabetes, and a host of health problems. Prognoses is not good Hello Donnie. I gotta tell you I appreciate so much all them letters, pictures, and cards I been getting’ from all
over the country. Detailed information on everything to! I’m not a scrapbook kind’a guy but I gotta tell you I got me one now.

Don: [Tom sounded tired, medicated, exhausted, and talkative. He is worried about the future and if there will even be one. He is worried for his wife.]

How’s the VA treating you?

Tom: This VA has done nothin’ but right by me now. Still having a weight problem. I thought when they took my one leg I would lose weight even if it was the hard way. But the medication and all I quickly gained back even the weight of my missing leg. Then they took the other one and the same thing happened….

Don: [Tom, as a double-amputee, weighs over 400 pounds now]

Tom: …But the VA is doing alright. We had a couple of run in’s but I got’em straightened out now and they don’t mess with me. Old x sky cops are like badgers and you don’t wanna rile’em up. VA’s treatin’ me right. One of the surgeon’s came in and wanted to know if I was interested in a wheelchair conversion van--first time anyone ever asked a question with the thought that I might get out of here. He told me about the van and I told’em I didn’t want no van that would cost me three times what my house did—can’t afford it. And the doc said he thought he could help with that. Next thing I know my wife is drivin’ a 2007 conversion van—brand spakin’ new—and we can afford it, and it is set up so’s I can even drive it. I just can’t believe it. Maybe I will get out of here someday, one way rather than the other.

Done a lot of travelin' in my work. Nobody has called me. No bosses. No workers. Nobody. And then all a sudden I get calls from old sky cops I don’t even know. And they talks to me like we are old buddies, and we tell what we did and the crap that was goin’ on just like we was there in the war together. We was there alright, maybe years apart, but we are there together now, and that’s what counts I guess. I’m tellin’ ya it just makes me feel so good. Chokes me up to, I gotta admit.

I talked to a lot of K9 guys and they talk about their dogs. This dog’s handler was … rather than other way around … and that’s kind’a funny, but I do it to. You know, like, Blackie's handler was Donnie, ha-ha. A couple of the handlers knew some of the men I knew, like Colonel “P” (Phillips). Did I tell you how he roped me in to K9 at Đà Nẵng? He called my ass in to CSC one day and said that I was the only school trained K9 in the squadron, at that time. We had about 200 men in the squadron total back then, and I think it was eleven hundred by the time we left. We only had the 12 or 13 dogs and I think ended up with 48. Anyway, Colonel“P” wanted to know why I wasn’t in K9 already, and I said there weren’t no dogs and I didn’t bring one with me and I was doin’ just fine. And Colonel “P” said that I wasn’t “doin’ just fine” or even close and the next time he heard that my sorry’ass came crawling through the main gate smellin’ like a brewery that my sorry’ass would wake up in jail at Clark Air Base. Don’t know how he knew about that, but he knew about all of us somehow. He then told me as of now I was in K9 and was gonna help train all them OJT’ers how to handle dogs—and not only that I was gonna have my sorry’ass and all the OJT’ers out on post with dogs at 2000 hours tonight! Colonel “P” could be kind’a stubborn about things until he gets his way—unless of course, he says, you want your sorry’ass to wake up at Clark Air Base tomorrow morning! By miracle of miracles, none of them new handlers got bit. I enjoyed working for Colonel “P”, but there was a hell’a’lot of dummies between him and us.

Donnie, if you recall, our 8-man tent had 16 men in it. And it was too dang hot to sleep when we got off duty. And those C-130’s turned their butts toward us and blew all that red dirt at us and we was caked red with sweat and dirt. I thank God for those aircraft going through their engine warm up though, cause we never
would’a got no sleep from all the snoring in all those tents.

We had some school kids come through here the other day, and they was a talkin’ to us vets and asking us questions. One kid was kind’a quiet and he said his daddy was really sick and not doing well. He was a Vietvet from somewhere but I don’t remember where. And I really felt sorry for that young boy and his daddy.

Don: [I couldn’t help but think that Tom Baker was laying in bed with both legs amputated and weighing over 400 pounds from medication and his condition, and yet there he was feeling compassion for a young boy and his father.]

Tom: Steve Gattis called me. We talked about Jackie Kay’s plane crash where he got hurt. We talked for quit a while to. Nice man.

Don: By the way, don’t worry about your VSPA membership, it’s taken care of and you are current.

Tom: I don’t know what to say. That means a lot. Please tell all the guys I really enjoy their calls and all the letters and cards. I better go now and get some rest.

Don: So long, Tom. I'll pass on your phone number again.

PS: Tom Baker’s cell is (omitted). Give him a call and if he doesn’t answer he will definitely call you back, and he will leave you feeling good.

From: Don Poss, Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:26 PM

Jackie: I don't know if you remember K9 Tom Baker, at Đà Nẵng in 65-66 when we were there. He remembers you, and remembers the night of the crash and you driving up to him and asking if he could see anything where the plane went down.  Tom is in the VA hospital now with agent orange problems. Severe Type II diabetes and a host of other problems. He is now a double-amputee and his health is failing.  I have posted a couple of short phone "interviews" with him on the bulletin board, and he has received many x sky cop phone calls, letters and cards from all over the country. He is very touched by the concern and prayers all have extended to him.  Tom was one of my tent mates in those early days. In an 8 man tent that has 16 men, you get to know each other well.  Great guy, and I am afraid we may lose him soon. Medication has balloon his weight to 423 pounds, and that is with legs amputated near the hip.  Life sometimes just does not seem fair.  But I tell you the truth, Jackie, I would not trade our experiences for anything.

I have told you about the ammo dump when the VC tried to penetrate it and Blackie and I had a close-encounter. There was a prior attempt on the same area of the ammo dump a few months earlier. Then, Tom Baker and K9 Rex took on the VC in a fire fight, quickly joined by the Marines who opened up with their M60.  In 1969, the VC finally succeeded and blew the living hell out of the ammo dump.

Don Poss

From: Don Jones, Monday, June 25, 2007 6:27 PM
RE: Tom Baker - Đà Nẵng K-9

Don: I called Tom Baker today and talked with him for nearly 10 minutes.  I made a short posting on the VSPA bulletin board.  I could tell that he was in a lot of distress, but he wanted to talk for a while on the phone anyway.  As sick as he is, he's still full of memories and stories.  He really appreciates all of the support that he is getting from VSPA and others.

Don Jones


RE: Tom Baker
VERY SAD NEWS --

Steve Gattis, VSPA President, Thu, Jun 28 2007

Hello to all.

I am deeply saddened to report the death of one our heroes and good friends, VSPA Life Member, K-9 Handler Tom Baker. Tom reported for his final guardmount at 0003 hours this morning due to complications from Agent Orange related Diabetes. Tom loved the K-9 Program and was responsible for so many good things at Đà Nẵng. He felt good about the idea of being able to see all of those dogs again, especially Rex, his K-9 partner at Đà Nẵng. Tom was discharged from the Air Force in 1966 and became a police officer in Arkansas City, Kansas, a place he called Ark City. After a couple of years there, he became the Chief of Police of Kingman, Kansas. He was a bit too tough on crime in Kingman and returned to Ark City 13 months later to continue service as a police officer for another five years.

Tom had a pretty tough life as a young man. He grew up in a Boys home in a place he called "Boys City" in Driscol, Texas. He graduated from Bishop High School, Bishop, Texas in 1962 and joined the Air Force.

He maintained some lifelong friendships with his friends from the boy's home and with the Air Policemen he met in Vietnam, like Don Poss. He loved to tell the story of one of his boy's home friends showing up at Đà Nẵng as a Marine while Tom was there as an Air Policeman. He introduced his buddy to Col. Phillips as his brother and was given a jeep to take him back to his Marine base.

It was my honor to know Tom for the short time we had to talk on the telephone. I had hoped to share some jokes with him again this morning when I called on his cell phone. His oldest daughter Tanya answered the phone and gave me the sad news. His family is okay but dealing with the loss of a husband, father and
grandfather is always tough.

Funeral arrangements are pending. When available, I will post them in the Restricted Area.

Tom turned 63 on June 25 2007. During the telephone calls we had, he told me that we should all take the time to love and cherish our families. He was thankful to all of his VSPA brothers who called or wrote to him. He wanted all of his brothers in the VSPA to know that he felt like an Air Policeman again and that he belonged to something special because people who did not know him had taken the time to to call, to talk, to make him laugh, to take care of him as one of their own. And although he knew he would probably die very soon, he wanted all of us to make sure that we did not ignore problems with diabetes, even minor infections that we would have ignored in the past as young men, can have a devastating effect on our lives when dealing with Agent Orange. Gather with your families as you remember Tom and know that he was not just a good man, but one of our heroes when he and Rex prevented an attack through their post at Đà Nẵng.

With thoughts and prayers for Tom and his family, I send my best to all of you.

Steve Gattis, President
Vietnam Security Police Association
Life Member #49
Cam Ranh Bay 68 - 69

Phone call from: T.J. Baker (Tom’s son), June 28, 2007, 2:00 p.m.:

Don, this is Tom’s son, T.J. Baker. I just wanted to tell you that Dad passed away. We all just got home from picking up all of Dad’s belongings. Mom’s going to be staying with us for a while now. We got an appointment tomorrow to discuss funeral arrangements, and I will let you know about that.

Sunday, Dad got to where he stopped breathing, and then he came back. And Monday all the family gathered around him. He was still having trouble breathing, but I’ll be damn if he didn’t get on the phone and talk about Vietnam with one of his Air Force buddies! He talked on the phone and mom had to hold his breathing mask up for him. He just needed to talk to them.

Last night when Dad collapsed again, the VA doctors really worked hard on him to bring him back. But knowing Dad, the way I know Dad, he didn’t want to come back, it was just too hard for him. And it was time to let him go. He told us he didn’t want heroic efforts, and he didn’t want to be on a breathing machine. And
we shared that with the doctors. They just couldn’t save him, and it wouldn’t have been right if they did.

Mom, Glenna, and Dad just celebrated their 36th anniversary. Peggy is his mother’s name. Dad was well known throughout the world. He did a lot of heavy building in sky-rises and all. He’s been everywhere.

His friends from the service these past weeks ... I think it really made him easier on him being reconnected and to know that you all cared, and he really wanted to talk about Vietnam with his friends. He never talked about Vietnam with us, and when we brought it up, he just said it was no big deal and wouldn’t talk any more.

But when Dad got some of those cards, and that being his final days, those cards were a highlight for him. You have all been like Dad’s extended family, and we really appreciate it and it meant a lot to us and especially to Dad.

There are only about 25-35,000 people in our county here in Kansas, but Dad was known but a lot of them and by many throughout the world. But the family just wants to tell you how very very much it has meant to my Dad and us, that you men in the association reached out to him in his last days.

T.J. Baker
S. “H” Arkansas, Kansas 67005

From: Don Poss, Thursday, June 28, 2007 2:08 PM
To: Sully
RE: VA hospital, Tom Baker, Đà Nẵng

Allan:

First, I want to thank you again for reuniting me with Tom Baker, a good buddy from Đà Nẵng Vietnam. Since your email of June 5th, we have had several wonderful phone calls. I also put him in touch with many of VSPA's members, who have responded with open hearts, phone calls, letters, emails and stories of when we were young warriors. Three weeks of renewed friendships. I am also sorry to tell you that Tom Baker lost his battle with diabetes and complications. According to his daughter, Tanya, he simply could not struggle any longer. Tom passed away at 3 minutes after midnight today. Tom did his duty to God, Country, Family, in caring service. Through compassion he has actually ministered to many of our members, and reminded us of how dear friendships are, and how trivial things of this world can be. Without your email, we would have missed these closing days of camaraderie with a fellow veteran, and I thank you for taking time to let us know how to reconnect with Tom.

Don Poss

RE: Tom Baker, Đà Nẵng, K9, 1965-66
Don Poss, Thu, Jun 28 2007

My friend, Tom Baker, has not answered his phone for a couple of days now -- I am worried. I talked to him and posted our last phone call.

I just got home and there are two saved phone messages that just arrived this morning: one from Tom, and another from Steve Gattis. I played my messages and want to share them with you now:

Phone message from Tom Baker: Hi Donnie, this is Tom Baker. I been getting’ mail. I been getting’ emails … you wouldn't believe the folder I'm putting together ... you can’t believe what this has done. I had no idea what was goin’ on. We were over there together, young and dumb, and I just want to call and thank you again. I sure got some nice mail from people. I got me a van, the VA paid for quite a bit of it. I couldn’t a bought this treatment from the Mayo Clinic. I appreciate all your help. Tell’em all how much it means to me to hear from them. Gemma a call when you can. This all means a lot to me.

-----------

Phone message from Steve Gattis: I am sorrow to have to tell you … I’m sorry to leave this on the message machine, but I have been making several calls to Tom Baker and could not get through at the hospital and his cell phone. Anyway, his oldest daughter, Tania answered and said Tom passed away at 3 minutes after midnight today. He just couldn’t fight anymore, with complications from diabetes, and everything. She knows who we are, and how very happy he was to hear from us all. Funeral arrangements are pending. Again, I am so sorry to bring you this sad news about Tom Baker.

Poem --
Edwin Jack Smith 377th SPS 68-69 (sad),
Fri, Jun 29 2007, 15:55:57

Thank you all my brothers for a lace to express our thoughts ...

Death from the Past
Forty years after we came back
Believing we were safe at home
Vietnam launched another attack
Not from Charlie but from our own
Agent Orange dropped from the sky
Not knowing what our fate would be
Vietnam killing us again with lies
That followed us across the sea
Not a single shot fired in anger
Dying inside these long long years
No one seemed to care why
We the forgotten lost in fear
Shunned by most except our own
We must never give up the fight
Losing this battle of heath at home
They hope we will fade into the night
We together can bear the pain
We learn to live with the hurt
And pray that it never happens again
To the future Soldiers
Called to defend this land
Sorry for all the space I have taken up.

I just had to express my feeling after reading about Tom Baker,
Another SFS Hero --

Jack The Old Cowboy

Jim Burke 366th SPS, Bakersfield CA,
Sat, Jun 30 2007, 8:59:04 PDT

While helping a member of AAA the other day with her registration, she mentioned that she needed to pay her son's renewal for his tags also. While taking the payment, I asked where he was at. She stated Texas. I asked where in Texas and she stated Lackland AFB. She stated he had just passed basic training and was staying there for Tech School. I asked what was his field and she stated proudly, Security Forces. I then told her that I was a former Security Policeman and that to Thank her son for his service from this old Security Policeman. As one hero is reporting for his last guardmount on Tuesday, another hero has stepped forward to answer the call to God, Country and family. May Tom Baker rest in peace. God Bless his family and all my VSPA brothers.

Jim Burke 366 SPS Đà Nẵng Tan My

From: Don Jones
To: Gary Knutson, 6/30/2007 5:16:56 PM
Re: Tom

Gary: Don't beat yourself down for not getting back to Tom Baker in time.  I don't know if he remembered me or not, probably not.  He was pretty weak when I called.  The lady who answered my phone call asked if he felt up to talking with me.  He probably didn't feel up to it, but he took my call anyway.  I hope my call raised his spirits, if only for a short time.  He had to end the call very abruptly, so I know he wasn't doing well.  Don Poss was a close friend to Tom, and he is the one who connected all of us in his time of need.  Very sorry that we could not connect with Tom earlier.

Gary, keep up your fight with Type 2 diabetes [AO related].  You are in our prayers.  Good on you for getting your claim approved by the VA.  My AO claim for Hairy Cell Leukemia was denied by the VA.  With all the Army and Marines who are coming back from the middle east with horrible injuries, I don't have the heart to appeal my claim.  My body parts seem to be failing on a monthly basis.  I'm looking for a good "bone yard" for replacement parts.  If you find one - let me know!

Don Jones

From: Don Poss, Saturday, June 30, 2007 6:51 PM
To: Gary Knutson
RE: Re: Tom

Gary: When I last spoke with Tom Baker, he liked to go down the list of handlers and their dogs. Half the time he named the dog first and then the handler.  He remembered you and Eric (Eric was the good lookin' one) and would say something about the handler and the dog. I don't think he could put to commas together, but his memory and communications skills were superb and right on. Tom remembered Byron's dog Hilda and could name most of the other dogs and handlers.

I too wish we had learned of his medical problems and declining state earlier. It took an old sky cop named Allan Sully to put us back in touch. Funny thing about a man like Tom is that he had every right to complain (I'm a power sniveler with a hangnail) but he never once did. As Don Jones noted, you could just hear the pain in his voice. Nevertheless, his humanity and compassion for others was sincere. In every conversation he would mention something about someone hurting or in need, or their family member having problems.  Strange how things work out. I had a phone message on my cell phone from Tom. I think he sent it some time late Saturday, but I didn't receive it until Thursday. In between those days we had talked again. His phone message again expressed his joy at reconnecting with everyone. And then Steve Gattis' message telling me Tom had died.  I still have Tom's message and haven't deleted it yet. Somehow it seems like to do so would be to delete a friend. I know that is silly, but there it is.

Gary you may not have called Tom, but that's okay.  Tom still thought of you were that young buck with a mean junkyard dog.  I told him about your Type II diabetes, and he said that he really wished you well and hoped all the guys would look out for each other and take care of themselves. I told Tom that you and I and Don Jones and others had met for a mini reunion of the 366th Gang a few months ago. He wanted to know how you both looked and I told him you both looked like one of Blackie's droppings rubbed on Goldie Meir's pimpled ass, and that your day-jobs were pressing your faces in batter to make guerrilla cookies, and if you took your uppers out it was even worse!  He told me not to make him laugh, so I didn't offer to mail him your photos.  I didn't have the heart to tell him the truth about how much better I look that you old puppy pushers.

I will give it a little time, then write a walk down memory lane page as tribute to Tom's memory.  Life really is too short. In another generation, you guys will all be gone and I will be here by myself.  I am not sure the last one standing with that bottle of rot gut hooch Steve Gattis has will be the luck one.

If something positive comes out the brief three weeks gift Tom gave us all, I hope it is that we will stay in touch and check on each other's six now and then.

Don Poss

From: Don Poss, Sunday, July 01, 2007 12:45 AM
To: Jackie Kays
RE: Tom Baker, 111

Hello Jackie:

I hope you are feeling much better now. I know you are aware that K9 Tom Baker passed away last Thursday. He served with us at Đà Nẵng in 1965. You may not remember him, but he remembered you. The night of the flare plane crash, you stopped your jeep and asked if he could see anything or had seen anything. And off you went to your fate -- and right into the world's densest minefield.

Tom was a great guy, but then, weren't they all.

Don Poss


RE: Tom Baker --
Don Poss, Sun, Jul 01 2007, 13:12:05 PDT

Gents:

As you may know, deceased member Tom Baker's funeral is Tuesday. For those who wish to do so, you may now leave a message of support online for the family at
http://obit.rindt-erdman.com/obit_list.cgi?task=Current&id=433072&clientid=rindt-erdman&listing=All
(the address is one line without any spaces, so copy and paste it). Just click on Tom Baker.

Viewing will be Sunday evening. A few of our VSPA members will be attending the funeral this Tuesday.

Don Poss


Don Jones, LM 426, 366th SPS K-9, 65-66,
Fri, Jul 06 2007, 20:15:59 PDT
RE: Tom Baker - War Dog Memorial

With the recent passing of Tom Baker, my K-9 Handler friend Byron Martin suggested it would be a nice gesture if some of those who knew and served with Tom would purchase a War Dog Tile in memory of Tom and Rex, who served with us at Đà Nẵng in 65-66. The Tile would be displayed at the March Field War Dog Memorial in Riverside, CA. We would have the Certificate sent to Tom's family. When the Tile is placed (it takes about 3 months), whoever visits the memorial first would take photos of the Memorial and the Tile and send them to Tom's family.

I have requested a War Dog Tile application from the March Field Air Museum. I have not been able to find Rex's serial number posted on any of the Vietnam Web sites. If anyone knows Rex's serial number, please let me know.

Thanks, Don Jones

Don Poss, Fri, Jul 06 2007, 21:35:53 PDT
Phone Call from Tom Baker's daughter Tonia to VSPA

Gents: As you know, Tom Baker's funeral was last Tuesday. I just received the most wonderful phone call from his daughter, Tonia, on behalf of the Baker family. Tom's elderly mother, son T.J., wife and the family have read every related post for Tom on the bulletin board, and all the guest cards on line for his services. Tonia asked that I pass on to you all how thrilled he was his last weeks of life in making contact with old and new friends, and how grateful they are to VSPA and those who called, wrote and email her dad.

A special comment for Gary Knutson from Tonia: " ... it's okay that you didn't get to call Tommy." And so like her dad she was concerned about how you are doing and everyone else -- it runs in the family. After talking with the Baker's ... I always feel uplifted.

Don Poss


Email to: Allan Sully ('sully571@cox.net')
RE: VA hospital, Tom Baker, Đà Nẵng


Allan: First, I want to thank you again for reuniting me with Tom Baker, a good buddy from Đà Nẵng Vietnam. Since your email of June 5th, we have had several wonderful phone calls. In these three weeks, I also put him in touch with many of VSPA's members, who have responded with open hearts, phone calls, letters, emails and stories of when we were young warriors. Three weeks of renewed friendships have been priceless. I am also sorry to tell you that Tom Baker lost his battle with diabetes and complications this morning. According to his daughter, Tania, he simply could not struggle any longer. Tom passed away at 3 minutes after midnight today. Tom did his duty to God, Country, and Family, in caring service. Through compassion he has actually ministered to many of our members, and reminded us of how dear friendships are, and how trivial things of this world can be. Without your email, we would have missed these closing days of camaraderie with a fellow veteran, and I thank you for taking time to let us know how to reconnect with Tom.

Welcome Home to VSPA,
Don Poss

------------------------

Don Poss -- Thoughts about Tom Baker:

Tears for a man I haven’t seen in 42 years. I know what Tom was going through. He told me. Candidly. Honestly, and through tears what it was like to call his family together and tell them he was dying, and be ready for that. He told me how much he loved his wife, and how much he worried about her, especially as she had not yet even received a VA card entitling her to BX and all disabled Vietvet privileges. “Donnie, that’s my biggest worry … who’s going to look after my wife?” Men don’t usually talk about loving a woman, but Tom Baker was not a “usual man” – he loved his wife and told me so each time we spoke. He loved his family, and told me so. In fact “love” was a common word as he spoke about others in his life.No one, except my 82 years old mother ever calls me “Donnie,” but somehow it always seemed right coming from Tom. Now, he has crossed over to the Other Side of The Wall, walking on new legs with a new body, with his K9 Rex prancing beside him, and no doubt he is not yet through shaking hands and clapping shoulders with “Joneszy,” as he called our tent mate J.B. Jones, who was killed in action, and “Colonel P,” as he called LTC Phillips, the most respected officer he ever knew, and our squadron commander.

Tom Baker’s name will never appear on The Wall in D.C., but if things were right in this world for veterans, it would be etched in black stone, for surely he was killed in Vietnam at Đà Nẵng Airbase by Agent Orange, a cruel, merciless unforgiving, lingering, and just as certain death as an AK-47, and as deadly as a rocket. But I think he would not change those circumstances. I know for a fact he would have gone to Vietnam anyway, even knowing what he knows today. He told me so. When we talked about Agent Orange, he commented that at least it is slow, and he has had a good life, surrounded by good people, and a little more time with family. "Jonezy didn't get that time" he had told me.

Thank you Tom Baker, for your friendship, and your service in Vietnam, and for your unselfish love of your fellow Security Police. Thank you for sharing how much it meant that VSPA took care of your membership. I couldn’t share with you that a Life Membership is in the works; because that was a pending surprise ...
something we hoped would lift your spirits a little. I wish now that I had said something. Thank you for caring about how I felt when we talked, when you were the one in such anguish and need. Thank you for caring about that young school student and his father, when you were the one suffering beyond endurance. And thank you for the best gift of all to your children, by showing them how much you love, respect, honor, and worry for your wife.

Goodbye, for now, Tom, and Welcome Home my brother.

Don Poss
Đà Nẵng, K9, 1965-66

Don Poss, Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 3:15 PM
To: Greg Dunlap
RE: Tom Jones' family attending the War Dogs Rededication.

Greg:

This Sunday is the War Dogs rededication at March ARB. Tom Baker's mother, daughter, brother, and cousin will be attending to see the tile we chipped in to buy for Tom and K9 Rex. As you know, Tom Baker's last three weeks of life were eased, and his spirit lifted, as VSPA members phoned, wrote letters, showed up at the hospital, and made it very clear that he was a valued member. Don Jones will also be there, and he knew Tom Baker to. We are all going to a nice meal. Tonya, his daughter, said that Tom never talked about his service at Đà Nẵng ... which is typical of us all. She said they would really like to know about his service.

On behalf of VSPA, and in the living spirit of We Take Care of Our Own, I will present to Tom's family a binder with print outs of all the Đà Nẵng stories and photos from 1965-1967, and several selected Đà Nẵng photos. Included are all the known medals and ribbons for Tom, plus VSPA logo, flag, banner (images), Sisterhood pin, VSPA Cross Pistols pin. All in all, there are well over a hundred pages of stories and information. If they do not have a copy of Reunion 2007, I will give them one as well. I think when they have time to review the binder, they will have a good understanding of Đà Nẵng AB, and why it was called Rocket City. One of the stories is about Tom Baker and K9 Rex blocking a sapper attempt to enter the ammo dump in August 1965. I was on duty then, but not at the bomb dump. Another attempt to penetrate the bomb dump occurred in May 1966 (I had the privilege of being with Blackie at that time and location), and that met with failure for them. In 1969, the VC succeeded and blew the hell out of the ammo dump. Photos of that 1969 attack are included and are impressive, for emphasis on what Tom prevented.

At the War Dog's Rededication, I will try to have as many K-9 handlers as possible to sign a page in the binder with their name and K9's name.

If anyone has any suggestions, let me know asap.

I will take ample photos and videos, and post a memorial story for saying goodbye to a friend.

Don Poss


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