By The New Mexico National Guard
SANTA FE, N.M. — Retired Army Lt. Gen. Edward D. Baca passed away after a long battle with leukemia at the age of 82 in the early morning of Sept. 15, 2020 surrounded by family at his home in Albuquerque, N.M.
Baca was appointed Adjutant General of New Mexico on Jan. 4, 1983 by governor Toney Anaya and served in that role for over 11 years before being appointed by President Bill Clinton as the Chief of National Guard Bureau on October 1, 1994.
Baca’s leadership and vision were instrumental in modernizing the New Mexico National Guard to include the deployment in New Mexico of the Army’s only Roland Air Defense battalion as well as the fielding of Chaparral, Hawk and Patriot missile battalions.
He initiated the New Mexico National Guard’s Drug Demand Reduction Program to assist partner law enforcement agencies to fight the war on drugs and help prevent children from using drugs. The effectiveness of the program was praised by the National Guard Bureau and was used as a pilot program for several other states.
Baca also made it his priority to recognize Bataan Veterans and tell the story of their courageous service. He further promised Bataan Veterans that the New Mexico National Guard would continue the annual Bataan Commemoration Ceremony and never forget their sacrifice.
After being appointed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau – the first Hispanic so honored – he was promoted to lieutenant general. He fought hard and was successful in protecting the National Guard’s role and contributions to national security.
After serving his nation for over 41 years, he retired as Chief of the National Guard Bureau on July 31, 1998 where he said “I love the National Guard and this is my family. My heart and spirit will always be in the National Guard and I will never forget, first and foremost, I am and will always be a New Mexico National Guardsman.”
Baca enlisted in the New Mexico Army National Guard on Nov. 9, 1956 and was assigned to Charlie Battery, 726th Anti-Aircraft Artillery. On February 22, 1962, he graduated Officer Candidate School and was assigned as platoon leader of the 3631st Maintenance Company.
Baca’s funeral mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at the Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Albuquerque at on Monday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m. followed by the burial with full military honors at the Santa Fe National Cemetery at 3:00 p.m.
For more information, please contact Joe Vigil at 505-553-1427 or email@example.com