As a member of the honor guard, Chris Baker is often at the White House or the Pentagon when ceremonies require a military presence. Saturday, his unit will carry President Ford's casket from a hearse to the airplane that will fly the 38th president to Washington.
As you might imagine, his family is overjoyed about Baker's tremendous honor.
His grandparents have been beaming about Baker's military service for months. Their excitement started with a September newspaper photo that caught Charles Webb's attention.
"I got a hold of my wife Dot, and I said, 'Dot, look at this.' And she looked at it and she said, 'Oh that's Christopher.' I said, 'I know it is,'" he remembered.
Corporal Christopher Baker was standing guard behind two world leaders. So like any proud grandparent, Mrs. Webb wrote a letter to President Bush, and pointed out that her grandson was in the picture.
"Chris is the tall, handsome young man, Army, holding the U.S. Flag," she said in the letter.
"I just wrote what I felt. And I'm just busting with pride," she said three months later.
Her smile got even bigger this week when Corporal Baker called home. The third infantry soldier had just found out he would be part of the honor guard sent to California to accompany President Gerald Ford's casket.
"We're just tickled to death, we really are," Mr. Webb said.
Baker is one of the Webbs' nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The Gulfport couple is obviously proud of every one of them. This week, it's Corporal Baker that has Poppy and Goggy beaming with pride.
"We're just so proud of Chris," Mrs. Webb said. "It's an honor. I mean how many people get to do something like that."
Poppy said Baker "has aspired to this distinction. And we're just tickled to death. Everybody is proud of him."
Baker told his grandparents he'll be the guard member on the back right of President Ford's casket. The entire family will be watching, to mourn for a president, and salute a loved one.
"It's a celebration that we'll remember the rest of our lives," Mr. Webb said.
Once President Ford's casket is on its way to Washington, Corporal Baker's honor guard unit will fly to Michigan. His team has also been chosen to carry the casket during one phase of the funeral service.
By Brad Kessie
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