Stephen Baker, a Navy rear admiral who grew up in Huntington and served during the Vietnam War like his twin brother, has died. He was 69.
His death, of septic shock on April 20 at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Salem, Virginia, was confirmed by nephew David Baker Jr. of Bethesda, Maryland.
The brothers are two of about 1,400 Vietnam-era veterans with Huntington roots whose names are engraved on a granite wall at Town Hall, according to a former U.S. Marine, Lou Pagano, 69, now of Hicksville, a 1964 high school classmate of the Baker twins who helped spearhead the project.
In 1973, Stephen Baker’s twin, David Earle Baker, made headlines upon being freed as a prisoner of war in Cambodia. The twin, who retired from the Air Force as a brigadier general, died in 2009.
Stephen Baker served in the Navy from 1969 until 1999.
Over the course of his career Stephen accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours and 1,000 carrier landings, according to the nephew.
Stephen was assigned to Aviation Training Squadron 26 in Bellville, Texas, followed by Attack Squadron 128 for fleet replacement training in 1972 and Attack Squadron 115 aboard the USS Midway toward Yokosuka, Japan, according to the nephew. He was an assistant chief of staff for operations for the USS Theodore Roosevelt battle group during the Gulf War.
During the war, the brothers worked together — David as deputy commander of the Air Force’s 4th Tactical Fighter Wing and Stephen as commander of the Navy’s Carrier Wing 7.
He had various assignments, with his last on active duty, from 1995 through 1999, as commander, operational test and evaluation forces, which tested all major Navy programs.
Stephen’s nephew recalled how his uncle would fly in with his A-6 intruder jet to visit his twin.
“While growing up, I could count on my two hands the times our entire families were together — most assignments kept us on opposite sides of the globe,” David Baker Jr. said.
He received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with gold star, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and other awards.
Stephen Hall Baker was born Sept. 30, 1946, in West Stewartstown, New Hampshire, to Gordon Earle Baker and the former Ernestine Hall Bartlett. Stephen was 45 minutes younger than his brother. Their father, who served in the Navy, was a civil engineer and salesman; their mother, an office manager. Seeking job opportunities, Gordon moved the family to Long Island when the boys were in middle school. The couple raised the family in Huntington, on Fairchild Street, and the young twins graduated in 1964 from Huntington High School.
Stephen graduated from Hofstra University.
Stephen Baker is survived by his widow, the former Patricia Hudson. His previous marriage, to Claudette Loretz, ended in divorce. He is also survived by daughters Carol Anne Baker and Stephanie Baker, both of Virginia.
His funeral was in Salem, Virginia, on April 25 at Sherwood Memorial Park, where he was interred in a service with full Navy military honors.