Baker, John Drayton, ENS

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Last Rank
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1941-1942, 131X, VF-42 Green Pawns
Service Years
1941 - 1942

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
New Jersey
New Jersey
Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Plainfield, NJ
Last Address
Plainfield, NJ

Casualty Date
May 07, 1942
Hostile-Body Not Recovered
Air Loss, Crash - Sea
World War II
Location of Interment
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial - Manila, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
WW II Memorial National RegistryUnited States Navy Memorial World War II FallenThe National Gold Star Family Registry
  2018, WW II Memorial National Registry
  2018, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2018, World War II Fallen
  2018, The National Gold Star Family Registry

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 Ribbon Bar
Naval Aviator Wings

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
VF-42 Green PawnsUSS Yorktown (CV-5)
  1941-1942, 131X, VF-42 Green Pawns
  1941-1942, 131X, USS Yorktown (CV-5)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Bombardment - Marshall and Gilbert Islands
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of the Coral Sea
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

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.

Navy Cross
Awarded for Actions During World War II
Service: Navy
Battalion: Fighting Squadron 42 (VF-42)
Division: U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5)
General Orders: Commander In Chief Pacific Fleet: Serial 2050 (May 8, 1942)
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Ensign John Drayton Baker (NSN: 0-104123), United States Naval 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), attached to 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.
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