Fallen contractor honoured during memorial service

Framed photos, a lit candle, and challenge coins surround a Bible assembled on a table before a memorial service for Inez Renee Baker on March 18. She was killed March 8 during an insider attack on Forward Operating Base Tagab in the eastern part of Kapisa Province, Afghanistan. Baker served in the U.S. Army for 26 years before moving to the private sector to work as an adviser in Afghanistan.

KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan — A somber memorial ceremony was held March 18 in remembrance of a civilian contractor who was killed March 8 during an insider attack that took place at Forward Operating Base Tagab in the Kapisa Province, where soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team are stationed.

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 taking a job as a trainer in the private sector.

Three men disguised in Afghan army uniforms forced their way onto the base, 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 with many more watching the ceremony from outside. For some, the tribute was a way to get closure following a traumatic event.

Although Baker had only been in Afghanistan for 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, said Baker was humble and a motherly figure to him.

“I’ve known her since she got to FOB Tagab in November,” he said. “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 base’s 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 assigned to 4th Brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.

Farmer said during one conversation, they found out they were both stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., 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.”

Spc. John Henderson, a food service specialist assigned to the same company, said Baker was a spiritual person. He said Baker took 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,” Henderson said.

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.

Henderson said he was surprised at how such a small lady could impact so many on the base.

“You can’t touch that many people unless you have God on your side,” he said.

Baker is survived by two sisters and two sons, age 22 and 28.

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