News: Fallen contractor honored during memorial service
Story by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A somber memorial ceremony was held today in remembrance of a civilian contractor who was killed March 8 during an insider attack that took place on Forward Operating Base Tagab in the Kapisa province.
Inez Renee Baker, 51, served 26 years in the U.S. Army before retiring last year. She was a native of Cayce, S.C., and a veteran who served several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before transitioning to the private sector taking a job as a trainer.
Three men disguised in Afghan army uniforms forced their way into the FOB, shot and wounded several soldiers and Baker before they were killed by coalition forces.
Friends, soldiers and civilian contractors filled the Morale, Welfare and Recreation room to capacity; some had to stand outside to watch the ceremony from outside the door. For some, the tribute was a way to get closure following such a traumatic event.
Although Baker had only been in Afghanistan for just four months, she was still able to leave a lasting impression on everyone she came in contact with.
Jeffrey Anderson, a Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment surveillance tower operator and a native of Spartanburg, S.C., said Baker was humble and a motherly figure to him.
“I’ve known her since she got to FOB Tagab in November,” said Anderson. “She was quiet and a very sweet person.”
Anderson said he remembers Baker talking about her niece, back in the U.S. She had two sons and treated her niece like the daughter she never had.
“Inez was very fond of her niece,” Anderson said. “She talked about her all the time.”
Baker had vast military experience, having served in the signal, health care and intelligence branches of the Army. She would often visit the FOB Tagab troop medical clinic to share her knowledge and experience.
“On quite a few occasions she would come and assist with casualties,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Farmer, a health care specialist and native of Atlanta, Ga., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas.
Farmer said during one conversation, they found out they were both stationed at Fort Benning at about the same time and knew a lot of the same people.
“She was a wonderful person,” Farmer said. “She will truly be missed out here.”
U.S. Army Spc. John Henderson, a food service specialist and also assigned to HHC, 2/7 Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, said Baker was a spiritual person. He remembers Baker taking part in weekly Bible study and would never miss Sunday services.
Henderson said when he sprained his ankle a few weeks ago, Baker would try to cheer him up and encouraged him to go to church.
“Every time I saw Ms. Inez she had a smile on her face; she was truly a beautiful spirit,” said Henderson, a native of Marrero, La.
At the conclusion of the memorial service, those who attended gave their final respects at a small linen-covered table that had an open Bible, a lit candle and two pictures of Baker. As each individual stood in front of the table for a few seconds, some bowed their heads and clasped their hands to show respect, some touched the open Bible with their hand, and closed their eyes as they bowed their heads, while others left a challenge coin in front of the picture frames out of appreciation for Baker’s contribution to the fight.
Henderson said he was surprised at how such a small lady could impact so many on the FOB.
“You can’t touch that many people unless you have God on your side,” he said.
Inez Renee Baker is survived by two sisters and two sons, ages 22 and 28.