Crane, Texas was brightened in 1939 when James T. Baker was brought into the great state of Texas as its newest Texan. Twenty years later Jim entered the U. S. Air Force, beginning his Air Force career at Lackland AFB, TX in the Preflight Training Program.
He was there from Dec 1959 to Feb 1960, and from Mar to Aug 1960 he was stationed at Bainbridge AFB, GA as an aviation cadet (basic flight training). Then he was sent to Reese AFB, TX (Sep to Nov 1960) where he completed Primary Flight Training.
His wishes, however, fell through and he was unable to complete the program. In Nov 1960 he was transferred to March AFB, CA to work as an Administrative Specialist. His assignment was with The 15th Recon Technical Squadron. He was there until April 1962 when he was assigned to Lackland AFB, TX and the USAF Officer Candidate School. By the time he arrived at Lackland he had met and married his wife Jo Ann and they had one child.
Subsequent to OCS, as a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant, Jim entered the Ground Electronics Officer course at Keesler AFB, MS (9/62 to 10/63). At the completion of that course he was assigned to his first operational duty as an officer. He served there from October 1963 until June 1965 as Guidance Officer and Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander for the 451st Strategic Missile Wing.
A short tour (6/65 to 7/66) as Chief, Communications Operations Branch, 70th Bomb Wing at Clinton-Sherman AFB was followed by a tour at Moron AB, Spain from July 1966 to July 1969. He served as the Squadron Telecommunications Officer, 2188th Communications Squadron.
Upon returning to the U.S. he was assigned as Air Force Advisor, Hq TAC Communications Area at Dannelly AFB (8/69 to 7/72). The war in Vietnam brought Jim in July 1972 to Ubon RTAFB as Chief, Communications Electronics Operations, 1982nd Comm. Sq.
His one-year tour ended in July 1973 with an assignment to the Communications Electronics staff officer course. This course was taken while he was assigned to Keesler AFB from Aug 73 to Jun 74. In July 1974 he was again in Thailand at Nakhon Phanom RTAFB as Chief of Maintenance, 1987 Comm. Sq.
Jim and Jo Ann had decided in 1973 to end their marriage and in 1975 Jim married Sodsri Kim in Thailand and returned with her to Montgomery AFB, AL where they remained until he retired in 1981.
His assignments were at Maxwell AFB included Director Communications Electronics Maintenance, Hq Air University (7/75 to 2/76); Commander, 1973 Comm. Sq. (2/76 to 6/76); and Director, Communications Electronics Operations, with the 1973 Communications Squadron (7/76 to 7/80).
Jim’s final duties in Air Force uniform were with the Air Force Teleprocessing System Evaluation, AF Data Systems Evaluation Center at Gunter AFB, AL. He retired in November 1981 as a Major with 22 years service.
In addition to completing several career and professional courses, Jim earned his Bachelors Degree while in the Air Force and his Masters (MBA) after he left the Air Force. Jim is the father of seven children two of which died (a son while Jim was in the Service and a daughter after AF retirement).
For the next twenty years, starting in November 1981, Jim was employed by the State of Alabama as a Communications Specialist in the Finance Department, Information Systems Division. In early 2002, Jim had had enough and decided it was time to stay at home and help Kim raise cattle – a task she had become expert in.