Royal N. Baker

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Royal Newman Baker
Royal N. Baker.jpg
Nickname(s) King
Born (1918-11-27)November 27, 1918
Corsicana, Texas
Died April 17, 1976(1976-04-17) (aged 57)
Georgetown, Texas
Buried Pecan Grove Cemetery, McKinney, Texas
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Seal of the US Air Force.svg United States Air Force
Years of service 1941–1975
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Unit 31st Fighter Group
48th Fighter Group
4th Fighter-Interceptor Group
7th Air Force
Commands held Stewart Field
2d Fighter Squadron
4th Fighter-Interceptor Group
20th Tactical Fighter Wing
12th Air Force
7th Air Force
17th Air Force
Air Defense Command
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Service Cross
Air Force Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Silver Star ribbon-3d.svg Silver Star
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit (4)
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Distinguished Flying Cross (4)
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal (43)

Lieutenant General Royal Newman "King" Baker (November 27, 1918 – May 1, 1976) was a United States Air Force flying ace during the Korean War. He accrued 3 victories in World War II and 13 victories in the Korean War.[1][2][3]

General Baker was one of the few military aviators who flew operationally in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.[4]

Early life[edit]

Baker was born in Corsicana, Texas on November 27, 1918, where he graduated from high school in 1936. He received his bachelor of science degree in industrial arts from North Texas State Teachers College in 1941. [5]

Military career[edit]

He began his military career as an aviation cadet at Hicks Field, in June 1941, and graduated from flight training in January 1942 with a commission as second lieutenant. He then attended U.S. Army Air Forces Observer School at Brooks Field. [6]

World War II[edit]

In March 1942 he joined the 308th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Group at New Orleans and went with the group to RAF Atcham in England in June 1942, the first American fighter group to reach England. The group was subsequently equipped with British Spitfire aircraft and Aug. 19, 1942, he participated in the historic Dieppe Raid. Three months later, the group moved to North Africa where Baker flew air operations over Algeria, Tunisia, and Sicily. For his aerial combat achievements, Baker was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters.[7]

Baker was credited with the destruction of 3 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 1 probable and 2 damaged before returning to the U.S. in November 1943, while flying with 31st Fighter Group.

His next assignment was with the 493rd Fighter Squadron of the 48th Fighter Group, at Tullahoma, Tennessee, deploying to England in January 1944. The 48th Fighter Group was assigned to the Ninth Air Force. He flew P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft in the campaigns of Air Offensive over Europe, Normandy and Rhineland. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action and also received an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross. [8]

By the end of his second European tour of duty, he had flown a total of 523 hours on 272 combat missions in British Spitfire and P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft. Baker shared in 1 air victory while flying with the 48th Fighter Group, and returned to the U.S. in December 1944, serving as a flight instructor until leaving active duty on November 24, 1945. [9]

Post war[edit]

After serving in the reserves for 2 years, he was recalled to active duty on July 3, 1947, and served as the base commander at Stewart Field, from July to December 1947, followed by service as commander of the 2nd Fighter Squadron of the 52nd Fighter Group at Mitchel Air Force Base, from December 1947 to October 1949.

Baker next attended Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, from October 1949 to October 1950, and then served as Director of Operations for the 52nd Fighter-Interceptor Group and the 4709th Air Defense Wing at McGuire Air Force Base, from October 1950 to April 1952. [10]

Korean War[edit]

Baker was deployed to Korea where he served as the commander of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group from June 1952 to March 1953, flying North American F-86 Sabre. During the Korean War, he flew 127 missions and accumulated 199 combat hours in F-86 Sabre jet and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and Legion of Merit.

He was the leading jet ace when he returned to U.S. and is the 21st jet ace of the Korean War and 5th leading jet ace in the war, with 13 enemy aircraft destroyed, which includes 12 MiG-15s and 1 La-9. This adds to his two-war total of 16.5 destroyed in the air, 2 probables, and 3 damaged.[11]

Post war[edit]

After the war, his next assignment was as a liaison project officer with Air Defense Command at Edwards Air Force Base, from March 1953 to May 1957, followed by service as director of testing for the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base from May 1957 to August 1960.

Baker attended National War College in Washington, D.C., from August 1960 to June 1961, and then served as commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Wethersfield in England, from July 1961 to June 1963. Baker's next assignment was as deputy commander of 3rd Air Force at RAF South Ruislip in England, from June 1963 to July 1964, and he then served on the Joint Staff at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from July 1964 to August 1966. He next served as vice commander of 12th Air Force in Waco, Texas, from September 1966 to March 1968.[12]

Vietnam War[edit]

Baker served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans with the Military Assistance Command in Saigon, Republic of Vietnam, from March to July 1968. Baker then served as vice commander of 7th Air Force at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam, from July 1968 to July 1969. During this time he flew 140 combat missions and piloted every kind of U.S. Air Force combat aircraft based in Vietnam.[13]

Post war[edit]

Baker was commander of 17th Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, from July 1969 to February 1971, and then served as Chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Bonn, West Germany, from February 1971 to December 1972. [14]

Baker's final assignment was as vice commander of Air Defense Command at Ent Air Force Base, from January 1973 until his till August 1, 1975.

He retired from Air Force on August 1, 1975. [15]

Later life[edit]

Baker died on April 17, 1976, and was buried at the Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney, Texas, where he is buried next to his wife Sarah who died on 1974. [16]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Royal Baker's ribbons as they appeared at retirement.[17]

COMMAND PILOT WINGS.png  Command Pilot Badge

Distinguished Service Cross
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Silver Star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with four silver oak leaf clusters
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with four silver oak leaf clusters (second ribbon required for accouterment spacing)
Air Medal (third ribbon required for accouterment spacing)
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver and two bronze campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars
Silver star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with silver and bronze campaign stars
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with one silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
French Croix de Guerre with Palm
South Korean Order of National Security Merit (Third Class)
South Korean Order of National Security Merit (First Class)
National Order of Vietnam (Commander)
Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order Ribbon 2nd Class.png Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order (2nd Class)
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
United Nations Service Medal for Korea
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg Vietnam Campaign Medal
Korean War Service Medal

See also[edit]