by Brian Manning
WALSENBURG — Don Baca, a native of Walsenburg, served honorably in the USAF for five years. He grew up and went to school in Walsenburg. His mother, Beatrice, and father, Andy, had four children. Andy was a coal miner at the Alan Mine in Trinidad for 50 years.
In 1973, Don joined the Air Force and was sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, for 12 weeks of basic training. After this training, he attended technical school for aircraft maintenance. He was then sent to Torrejon Air Base in Madrid, Spain, where he served as crew chief for fighter jets. He also served in Sardinia, Italy, and other bases overseas.
He returned to the US and was sent to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where he was assigned as a crew chief on T38’s which are training planes. After 5 years of service, he mustered out and returned to Walsenburg.
Don took a job as sheriff’s deputy and later worked in construction. He decided to move to Pueblo where he met his future wife, Christine Sanchez. They had two children, and now have three grandchildren. He went to work in Pueblo as a distribution bulk mail clerk. He worked for 28 years and retired in 2007.
Wanting to further his education, Don went to Pueblo National School of Business and obtained a BA in business administration. While in school, he took kung fu san soo, a martial art based on techniques from China. He earned a second degree in black belt while in school. His wife earned an AAS Psychology and took a job as an aid in St. Mary Corwin Hospital in Pueblo.
After retiring, Don became disabled and moved into the Spanish Peaks Veterans Community Living Center. He was totally bedridden when he arrived, but through great care and physical therapy he is now able to move around. He is very thankful for the staff of the facility and that they do an incredible job, saying they are very dedicated.
Don and Christine have been married for 40 years. He hopes he will be able to return home in the near future.