Golden Gate Wing Guest Speaker Archive

Presentation Date: June 26, 2014

Lieutenant Dan Baker, US Navy

Dan Baker was born in San Francisco in 1919. His father was a laborer and later worked for the Internal Revenue Service; his mother was a housewife. The couple had four boys; Dan was number three. After graduating from San Francisco’s Polytechnic High School in 1936, he attended several colleges.

With several friends, Dan joined the US Navy in May 1942 and began the 3-month Preflight school. Primary training was in Stearman Cadets at Livermore, then on to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was awarded his wings and commissioned as an Ensign. Combat type training followed. Then he was assigned instructor duty at Miami Naval Air Station in Florida flying various types of aircraft.

While at Miami, Dan volunteered to be a replacement in the Pacific, went to Hawaii, and was assigned to Air Group 18 aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid (currently a floating museum at Manhattan’s Pier 86 in New York City). As a SB2C Helldiver pilot, he fought in two major battles: Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf. He was awarded the Navy Cross for bombing the Japanese battleship Nagato, followed by of one two Distinguished Flying Crosses for destroying a second Japanese warship. Eventually, he also received an Air Medal for shooting down a Japanese aircraft.

After seven and one-half years in the Navy, he enrolled in Hastings College of Law and began his practice as a sole practitioner in Oakland. Later, he partnered in San Francisco with Hendler, Green, and Taylor. This group eventually grew to an eight-partner firm which after 30 years merged with Hanson Bridgett, now a 150 member firm.

In 1947, Dan married Arlene in Reno, Nevada. The couple had two children, Danny and Kim. Arlene died in 2012.

Dan likes golf, reading, and ballroom dancing. He has been an activist in authoring a rate program for the California Public Utilities Commission. He also contributed to passage of a federal law by the US Senate and House of Representatives. Dan continues to practice law part time.