Thornton Academy Postscripts Alumni Magazine Spring 2017 - Page 8
STORY BY KRISSY MAILMAN | PHOTOS COURTESY OF DAVID BAKER
From the military to mountain climbing,
David Baker ’76 thrives on a challenge
David Baker ’76 not only excels when pushing himself to the
max, but seeks out the opportunities to do so. Whether he
is scaling the highest mountain on two different continents,
traveling to Antarctica for a mammal and whale expedition,
or keeping our troops safe, David thrives when testing his
physical and mental limits.
Having spent 24 years in the United States Air Force, David
learned early in his career how to problem solve, overcome
challenges, and push himself beyond his comfort zone.
It was in the military where David acquired leadership
skills, which would later play a crucial role in delivering
intelligence that protected our troops at war.
“As I moved up through the military ranks, I gained not
only more technical experience, but also experience in
leading people and managing resources. The military
was a good teacher and I was lucky enough to have great
supervisors, role models, and mentors.”
When David left the military, he went into Intelligence,
Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) for General
Dynamics and was a lead engineer. The purpose of ISR is
to aid in the support of rapid and sound decision-making.
From exploring the Arctic to hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro (see p. 9)
to photographing Mt. Kosciusko in New South Wales, Australia
(above), David Baker understands the value of hard work and
testing personal limits to lead a fulfilling life.
While in this role, David helped redesign a network used
to distribute intelligence to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“My role there was to develop new technologies to support
the Wing’s global mission.” The Wing is the Air Force
leader in globally networked ISR operations. David said his
biggest achievement was keeping troops safe. “My work in
developing new systems made the delivery of intelligence
to ground units in Afghanistan and Iraq faster and more
After 14 years working in ISR, David is now the Guardian
IT Operations Manager. He leads a team of administrators
that operates and maintains the system infrastructure that
hosts some of a government client’s mission applications.
Even though David’s military days are behind him, he hasn’t
slowed down. “I always want to test my physical and mental
limits with wanting to do the best job I can in a challenging
environment. The more strenuous and challenging, the
more alive I feel. Reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro
(highest peak in Africa) in the spring of 2015 was the
most physically and mentally challenging thing I have ever
accomplished.” That fall, he also went on to hike the highest
peak in Australia, Mt. Kosciuszko.
David said his drive and ambition stems from his curiosity
of always wanting to explore new places and things. His
advice to students is to explore the world around them,
challenge themselves in the classroom, and apply it to how
they can make a difference in the world.
“In order to succeed today, students need practical
problem-solving skills, the ability to write and communicate
effectively, and critical thinking skills. Teachers need to
develop practical applications so students see the value and
tangible results that have meaning and effect on the world.”
David is pleased by all the academic offerings that TA
has, especially the wide selection of Advanced Placement
courses. It’s David’s hope that students find a guidance
counselor or mentor that will help them grow, stretch, and
push them beyond their personal limits.
“Currently, I’m training to cycle for a 100-miler. I may
not reach that goal, but sometimes it’s the journey, not the
destination, that is the most fun and rewarding. If you do a
challenge and don’t succeed, but you tried, then that in itself
is a success.”