Freedom Fighters: Thomas Baxter - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Thomas Baxter

HOLLY LAKE RANCH, TX (KLTV) -

After joining the Navy in 1967 and training as a Naval Airman, Thomas Baxter arrived in Vietnam 1969.

"I arrived there as they were cleaning up from the Tet Offensive, and then I got to DeNang, that's also known as 'Rocket city', so it was hit particularly hard," says Baxter.

Baxter's job was intelligence gathering in a special plane flying over enemy territory.

"It was outfitted for our job only. There was no armament on it," says Baxter.

With no armament for protection, Baxter's plane was a target for ground rockets and Sam missiles.

"If you came down too low then there was anti-aircraft, very sophisticated equipment those people had. They got it from the Russians," says Baxter.

 After spending over 491 hours in the air over a twelve month period, Baxter returned home to face anti-war demonstrations.

"Baby killers, they threw socks, threw stuff at us," says Baxter.

The returning soldiers and sailors were told to ignore the demonstrations, but there was one thing that Baxter couldn't ignore. His name had been turned in and accepted to receive the coveted Air Medal.

After decades of letters and phone calls trying to track his medal, Baxter was finally awarded the Air Medal by Congressman Louis Gohmert at a special meeting this month.

Thomas Baxter served his country with pride and patriotism.

"I'd tell you right now, we have 99.9 of them say if we had to do it again, we'd do it," says Baxter.

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