Monday, August 31, 2015
Albany News Anchor Mark Baker Honored at National Convention
BALTIMORE – Mark Baker, a news anchor with WTEN News10 ABC in Albany, NY, wanted to thank veterans for their service last Veterans Day. He dropped by Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scotia after staff there alerted him to a photo they had taken of 98-year-old World War II army veteran Justus “Jay” Belfield, dressed in uniform and rendering a salute. He died just hours after the photo was taken.
Baker filed a story called “Final Salute,” which included the photo. It went viral, with 35 million hits on the station’s website alone. It also was picked up by major news networks.
During the American Legion National Convention here Monday, the Department of New York honored Baker with the New York American Legion Press Association’s Special Recognition Award.
NY Press Association Executive Director Lynda Pixley and Department Commander James Yermas presented the award to Baker at a packed breakfast caucus of New York delegates.
Then later in the day at the National American Legion Press Association (NALPA) awards luncheon, Baker received the first place Visual Media Award. His nomination was submitted by Minker-Seery American Legion Post 252 of Philmont, NY, whose members had also submitted his name for recognition by the New York American Legion Press Association. Post 52 members Jeff French and Rich Morris were present for both presentations, along with Baker’s wife, Jackie.
NALPA Executive Director Patrick Rourk announced the award while 2014-2015 NALPA President Michael Moses Sr. made the presentation.
“Jay (Belfield) truly represents what the American Legion stands for – his love of God, family and country,” Baker noted, adding that the WWII vet had worn a military uniform for 33 years in the National Guard, U.S. Army and Army Reserve (including the Battle of the Bulge and the Berlin Air Lift).
Mentioning that he grew up in a small town in Missouri “where the American Legion had a big presence” and where his World War II veteran father was active in the Legion, Baker said: “I think the American Legion is the premier veterans organization in America, and it does mean a lot to me to be honored by the American Legion.”
Incoming NALPA President Priscilla Imbergia lauded Baker and News10 ABC for their reporting on veterans, and called him a leader “in the press corps” for recognizing the service and sacrifices of military veterans.
“Thank you for coming here so we could honor you in person,” she said.