Heroes From the Heart of Virginia: Leslie Baker
Lynchburg, VA- From combat to cancer, a Vietnam veteran from Lynchburg has cheated death several times.
Leslie Baker was drafted into the Army in 1968, at 19 years of age. He spent 10.5 months in Vietnam as an E5 Sergeant--Jeep commander. That's where he met the man that saved his life.
"A guy came up to me by the name of Tom Martino who took me under his wing. He said I'm going to take backup today, you drop back," said Baker.
That day, a grenade hit their site.
"I get hit in the arm, and my friend said check Tom. I turned around and all I saw was Tom's legs. It blew his head off," said Baker.
Baker helped put Tom's body on the helicopter.
"And that's tough to pick a mans brains, and put it in a body bag, Tom died in my place, that should have been me,' said Baker.
Tom's name is on the wall in DC. Every year, Baker visits to pay his respects.
"I take him a Budweiser every year, and I think he drinks it," said Baker.
"He took my place, he told me to move. I would have been back up point man that day. He walked up and said I'll take it. The good Lord was looking out for me," said Baker.
Baker also caught Malaria and Jungle Rot while in Vietnam. Most recently he overcame throat cancer.