Cheyenne in Laramie County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
1st Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker
In 1866, following the American Civil War, Congress created six all African American Army units which later merged into four (9th and 10th Cavalry - 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments). Composed of former slaves, freemen, and black Civil War veterans, these units helped settle the west by escorting and protecting settlers, cattle drives, and railroad crews and tracks during westward expansion. The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments also conducted campaigns against American Indian tribes on the western frontier. They fought in over 175 engagements. Their combat prowess, bravery, tenaciousness, and appearance on the battlefield, inspired the Indians to call them "Buffalo Soldiers" symbolizing their respect for the soldier's bravery and valor. Through the years, Buffalo Soldiers have continued to wear this name with pride.
The last segregated black regiment to see combat was deactivated in 1951. "Buffalo Soldier" has become a generic term for all African American Army soldiers and their bravery has earned them an honored place in U.S. history.
Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on December 17, 1919 Vernon Baker would become the last of only nine World War II African Americans to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. Commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant after completing Officer Candidate School, Baker served in an all black company that was part of the 370th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry. On April 5-6, 1945, near Castle Aghinolfi in northern Italy, Baker, with the assistance of his men, showed extraordinary heroism by destroying two enemy positions. He then covered the evacuation of his company's wounded by drawing enemy fire to his exposed position. The following night he voluntarily led a battalion sized assault against the enemy through minefields and heavy fire. In the end, Baker and his unit would kill 26 Germans, destroy 6 machine gun nests, 2 observation posts and 4 dugouts in this predawn battle. Baker earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and the Distinguished Service Cross while becoming one of the most highly decorated African American soldiers serving in the Mediterranean Theater.
On January 13, 1997, 52 years after his World War II military service, President Bill Clinton presented Vernon Baker with the Metal of Honor, the Nation's highest decoration for battlefield valor. Baker was literally the last WWII Buffalo Soldier to be so recognized.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed African Americans • Military • Wars, US Indian. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #42 William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, and the Medal of Honor Recipients series lists.
Location. 41° 8.718′ N, 104° 50.198′ W. Marker is in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in Laramie County. Marker is at the intersection of Randall Avenue and McComb Avenue, on the right when traveling east on Randall Avenue. This statue is in a small triangular park bounded by Randall and McComb Avenues and West 32nd Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1399 Randall Ave, Cheyenne WY 82001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Military 1867-1890 (here, next to this marker); The Military 1867-1949 (here, next to this marker); The Military 1949-Present (a few steps from this marker); 1980 Capitol North National Historic District (approx. ¾ mile away); Early Cheyenne Reservoir (approx. 0.8 miles away); Camp Carlin (approx. 0.8 miles away); Cheyenne Frontier Days™ (Part I)The Trails (Part III) (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cheyenne.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Buffalo Soldier - Wikipedia. Sources disagree on how the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" began. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1877, the actual Cheyenne translation being "Wild Buffalo". However, writer Walter Hill documented the account of Colonel Benjamin Grierson, who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, recalling an 1871 campaign against Comanches. Hill attributed the origin of the name to the Comanche due to Grierson's assertions. The Apache used the same term ("We called them 'buffalo soldiers', because they had curly, kinky hair ... like bisons") a claim supported by other sources. (Submitted on June 13, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
2. Baker, Vernon - Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Citation: For extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, near Viareggio, Italy. Then Second Lieutenant Baker demonstrated outstanding courage and leadership in destroying enemy installations, (Submitted on June 13, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 13, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 586 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 13, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.