Painting of HELL'S WENCH aircraft with black and white photo of Baker superimposed.

Photo from Ohio Army National Guard historical Collections

Fire Over Ploesti, National Guard Heritage Series by Roy Grinnell, depicts Lt. Col. Addison Baker’s badly damaged B-24 Liberator, “Hell’s Wench,” during Operation Tidal Wave, Aug. 1, 1943. with Lt. Col. Addison Baker, circa 1943.

Lt. Col. Addison Baker earns Medal of Honor during WWII

Compiled by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann, Ohio Army National Guard Historian

On Aug. 1, 1943, Lt. Col. Addison Baker, an Ohio National Guard member who entered federal service in 1940 with the 112th Observation Squadron, commanded the 93rd Bombardment Group during a daring low-altitude Allied bombing mission of Axis oil refineries at Ploiesti, Romania named Operation Tidal Wave. Baker piloted his B-24 Liberator, named “Hell’s Wench,” as the lead aircraft of the second formation of 177 total aircraft. While approaching the target, Baker’s plane was hit by a large caliber anti-aircraft shell and was set on fire. Although Baker could have landed the plane safely nearby, he refused to break up the formation and dropped his bombs with devastating effect. He then attempted to gain altitude for the crew to escape by parachute, but the aircraft crashed in flames as Baker maneuvered it around other planes, killing everyone on board. For his heroic actions and leadership, Baker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.