‘She loved being a soldier,’ says son of Midlands contractor killed in Afghanistan

03/12/2013 2:55 PM

03/13/2013 5:14 PM

A civilian contractor and Army veteran from Cayce was killed in an attack Friday at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, her youngest son confirmed Tuesday.

Inez Baker, 51, was killed when three men dressed in Afghan national guard uniforms rammed a Humvee into the gate of the base in the northeastern part of Afghanistan and opened fire. Four U.S. soldiers also were injured before the attackers were killed, according to The Associated Press.

Baker joined the Army after her first son was born, said Andre Odom, her youngest son. She spent the next 26 years in the Armed Forces, working in communications and intelligence and as a nurse before retiring at the rank of sergeant first class.

Baker served at least six tours in Afghanistan and Iraq over the course of her career, he said.

“She loved being a soldier,” Odom said. “She was proud of being a soldier.”

Baker, a 1979 Brookland-Cayce High School graduate, is survived by Odom, 22, and his 28-year-old brother. The brothers and the rest of the family are waiting for the return of her body to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Del.

Odom said his mother, a religious woman, was the glue that held their family together.

“At times like this we have to stay together,” Odom said. “This is what she would want us to do.”

Odom said he and his family have received hundreds of calls from his mother’s former colleagues, many of whom described Baker as a mother figure to them.

One caller told Odom how, after she was deployed to Iraq, Baker took her under her wing. The woman told Odom she was scared and didn’t want to be in Iraq, but Baker made sure she had everything she needed to succeed.

“She said, ‘Your mother is the main reason why I did as well as I did,’” Odom said.

Funeral arrangements will be announced by Pearson’s Funeral Home of Columbia.

The Associated Press contributed.

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