entered the service in 1944, serving with the 39th
BG (VH)’s Crew 51 as Left Gunner. After WWII
he joined the Air Force where he served for 13 years
in the Air Force, having served in the Korean War.
1957 when he got out of the Air Force, he and his
family moved to Birmingham, AL where he worked for
Hayes Aircraft (Feb 12, 1957). He was laid off from
Hayes during the recession in the early 60s and opened
a couple of pizza restaurants.
was a member of the Alabama Air National Guard.
January 1961, Baker was among 60 guardsmen who volunteered
to work for the CIA training Cuban resistance troops
and to possible fly supply missions, under complete
secrecy from even his family.
the early morning of 19 April 1961 – Six Douglas
B-26 Invaders painted in Cuban Air Force colors took
off on their mission, flying in pairs having taken
off in 30 min intervals. As the bombers arrived over
the beachhead at sunrise, Cuban fighters were waiting
for them. The two lead B-26’s came under attack
but were able to deliver their ordnance and return
to Nicaragua. Of the next two B-26’s one was
able out manuver the T-33 fighters but the other plane
was hit and went down. Futher inland, Leo Baker flying
as Flight Engineer and his pilot Thomas Willard “Pete”
Ray were shot down by Cuban antiaircraft batteries
near Playa Giron after they several daring strafing
runs. They crahsed in a cane field. Baker and Ray
survived the crash but were killed by Cuban soldiers.