Medal of Honor recipient receives new car during San Diego veterans event

By LINDA MCINTOSH | The San Diego Union-Tribune (Tribune News Service) | Published: November 1, 2016

Several hundred veterans from more than a dozen motorcycle groups gathered Oct. 29 to recognize Vietnam Veteran John Phillip Baca, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient during the Forgotten Sons “Ride to Live” fundraising motorcycle ride in Oceanside, Calif. which focused on preventing veteran suicide.

During the event at the Elks Lodge in Oceanside, Marine Corps veteran Michael Smith, president of the Toyota USA Veterans Association, presented Baca with a new Platinum edition Toyota Tundra.

While fighting in Vietnam Feb. 10, 1970, Baca threw himself on a grenade to shield his team from the blast.

Twenty years later, Baca returned to Vietnam with 10 other soldiers from the Veterans Vietnam Restoration Project. The group worked with former North Vietnamese Army soldiers to build a health clinic in a village north of Hanoi.

Baca has worked with veteran groups helping comrades overcome struggles and deal with issues such as homelessness.

The ride raised more than $15,000 for Mission Viejo-based American Soldier Network, a nationwide nonprofit set on helping veterans overcome psychological and emotional battles along with homelessness and unemployment.

Among the dignitaries who attended were Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood and TV stars Joel Lambert, former Navy Seal and Tim Abel, former Army Ranger, who serve as celebrity ambassadors for American Soldier Network Celebrity Ambassadors .

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