ST. MARIES, ID. -- Strangers are stepping up to help the widow of a North Idaho veteran who received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Vernon Baker died at his St. Maries home in July and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941, served and was wounded in World War II. Vernon was 90-years-old.
But Baker's wife of the last 17 years, Heidy Baker, can't afford to attend the burial of her own husband's ashes.
"I can keep it together more on the outside, but on the inside I'm just so sad and so empty," Heidy told KREM 2 News Tuesday.
After a long bout with brain cancer, Heidy sensed Vernon was slipping away, but says he cracked jokes, remained positive and then spoke his final words.
"I was with him all day long on the bed and we talked until he left," says Heidy.
Nine days ago, hundreds of people attended Vernon's local memorial service in St. Maries, where Heidy was presented the American flag that draped her husband's casket.
"That was a really, really bad moment," says Heidy. "I think that was the hardest from the whole service."
In September, the U.S. Army will bury Vernon's ashes in Arlington National Cemetery, but the military is not covering any of the cost of the trip for Heidy. She's financially down during hard times, and can't afford the plane ticket to Washington, D.C. She wants to also take her grandson and daughter with her, for what she says will be and even more difficult ceremony than the last one.
Since that ceremony, the Post Falls National Guard is working to set up an account at all American West Bank locations to help pay for Heidy and her family's travel. The account should be established and ready for donations by Wednesday.