Jim Baier with his U.S. Army uniform and his Bronze Star. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
Jim Baier with his U.S. Army uniform and his Bronze Star. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

ELMWOOD, WI – This week we bring you the conclusion of Cubby’s story that will culminate with his presentation of the Bronze Star he garnered 48 years ago while fighting in a deadly war zone against an enemy of the United States.

Sometime in 1968 Sgt. Jim Baier’s artillery unit was moved from Dak To back to Pleiku, then to Bin Dinh and the battery was loaded on a transport ship and anchored in the South China Sea where many of the men got sea sick. From there they went up to Chu Lai to support the 101st Airborne division. It was a back and forth time of battle as the troops moved up and back and up again. This exposed Jim’s unit to the risks and hazards of land mines and harassment of enemy troops.

During his service in Vietnam Jim Baier was decorated with the following medals: Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Bronze Star medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Sharp Shooter (Rifle) Medal. But he never did receive his Bronze Star; this was usually presented in the field and it just didn’t get done.

The Bronze Star medal is awarded to members of the United States Armed forces to recognize heroic achievement and heroic service, in a combat zone. Sgt. James Carl Baier’s actions were accomplished with distinction.

Jim Baier served his country for one year and nine months and three days. He came back out of Vietnam via Da Nang to Cam Ranh Bay to Japan, to Fort Lewis in Washington State. That is a large Army base and as such there were no war protesters there to “greet” the returning soldiers.

After a 30 day leave Jim was posted to Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas, where Jim said they had a lot of problems with new “recruits” who were convicts given the opportunity to get out of jail to go fight in Vietnam.

There on his last three days he had a close encounter of a “famous” kind with a fellow who knocked on his door asking to go fishing with him. It turns out that bored Sammy Davis (not the “Rat Pack” Sammy Davis) the Medal of Honor (our highest military honor) recipient wanted someone to hang out with and he found Sgt. Jim Baier. They spent the day together, but never did go fishing.

Jim Baier was honorably discharged from Ft. Hood, Texas on March 10, 1969. Now 48 years later he is to be presented with his Bronze Star that (as stated previously) is awarded to members of the United States Armed forces to recognize heroic achievement and heroic service, in a combat zone. His actions were achieved with distinction.

Baier is considered a disabled veteran as he is now totally deaf in one ear and 58 percent deaf in the other as he couldn’t wear hearing protection on the battlefield as he had to hear his commander give instructions to fire the big guns.

He is a “paid up for life” member of the Elmwood Crain-Ottman American Legion Post 207; a Past commander and the current Sergeant at Arms. Jim is a retired postal worker and has given talks to school classes.

U.S. Representative Ron Kind was instrumental in securing this medal for Jim Baier and wanted to present it to him right away, but “Cubby” wanted to do it when his family and friends could attend. Many of Jim’s family are former military members too and this will be an honor for them as well.

Also, Jim felt that the Veterans Day services at Elmwood High School that are open to the public to attend, would be an appropriate time to have the presentation. Unfortunately, that is a schedule conflict for Rep. Kind with his legislative duties in Washington D.C. But his aide Mark Aumann will do the honors on Thursday, November 9, in the large gym.

“I am thankful to the ones around me, they are the ones that brought me back from war,” Bair said. “It was a senseless political war the we never should have gotten into.”

Please join Jim Baier and the students of Elmwood Schools for the annual Veterans Day Service and Bronze Star medal presentation on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 9 a.m. in the large gym. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

Thank you, Jim and all veterans, for your service!