In December 1979, a young Michael Baker drove across the Georgia line to start a new job as a historian on Redstone Arsenal, and he hasn’t looked in his rearview mirror since.
Baker, known as “Mule” by leadership, colleagues and subordinates alike, retired as Army Materiel Command historian during a ceremony at AMC headquarters, June 22.
“Mule has a keen appreciation for the rich and diverse history on this installation,” AMC Commander Gen. Dennis L. Via said. “He is a great role model and living legend here on Redstone Arsenal.”
Baker started his career as the project archivist for the Georgia Historical Society’s Central of Georgia Railway Collection in 1978, shortly after receiving a history degree from the University of Georgia. He also has a master’s in history from Florida State University.
Baker’s first job as an Army civilian was as a Redstone Arsenal historian, followed by a position as the historian/archivist for Army Missile Command, and then as command historian.
Army Missile Command merged with the Aviation and Troop Command to become the Aviation and Missile Command in 1997. Baker continued his role as command historian at AMCOM until accepting the position as command historian for AMC in December 2010.
“Mule worked hard to make history relevant at AMC, becoming one of the first historians to publish information on the Internet. He was soon emulating a comprehensive visual history,” Via said.
That project, Baker said, is one of the many he looks back on fondly after more than 36 years of service. Together with AMC Deputy Command Historian Claus Martel, Baker and team launched the Redstone Hypermedia page in April 1995, amidst some skepticism from his peers.
“We were told, ‘You’re going to put yourselves out of business,’” Baker said. Today, the Army Center of Military History on Fort McNair, Virginia, boasts a comprehensive listing of events, professional reading events, publications and more. Other Army units, including AMC, have followed suit, containing photographs, graphics, videos and more in an easily-accessible format.
Other accomplishments include accepting the Maj. Gen. John B. Medaris Award Army Achievement in Space in 1990 in Washington, D.C., where Baker recalled then-Secretary of the Army Michael P.W. Stone going off-script to specifically acknowledge how much the Army at Redstone has contributed to the space program.
Baker’s 36 years of service culminated in a few words of wisdom to the crowded conference room.
“As this old mule heads to pasture, I’d like you to read about these stories, enjoy them and pass them on. This is truly a special place.”