Lasting Valor tells of some of the most dramatic acts of courage attempted in the entire Mediterranean theater during WWII–acts that resulted in Baker’s being awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Cross. On April 15, 1945, as part of one of the last segregated outfits to go to war for the United States, Lieutenant Baker knew he and his men were being deserted when, during the battle for Castle Aghinolfo in Northern Italy, his white commander told him he was going for reinforcements. Caught three miles behind enemy lines, and with half their comrades in arms dead, they refused to turn and run. Although he was decorated for his efforts, the army quietly surpressed this action until 1997, when Baker was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.
Lasting Valor also reveals Baker’s early life. An orphan raised by grandparents in nearly all-white Cheyenne, Wyoming, he survived a rocky adolescence and went on to live in Father Flanagan’s Home, and then to fight to join a segregated army. His years in the army are recounted, and give us a rare glimpse into the life of a World War II black infantryman. It is a powerful book; as The Washington Post praised: “Whites should read this book to learn of Baker’s accomplishments against a background of severe prejudice. Blacks should read it for the heroism it reveals. Everybody should read it for the power of its narrative.”