(AP) - The White House apologized Thursday for turning the family of a Medal of Honor recipient away from an exclusive tour last week because the late veteran's 10-year-old grandson was wearing shorts.
Vernon Baker, the last surviving black Medal of Honor winner from World War II, was buried Friday at
On Saturday, his widow and grandson went to the White House for a special tour of the West Wing, which includes the Oval Office and rooms that are in use.
The staffer who was to lead the family wasn't sure whether 10-year-old Vernon Pawlik's attire - shorts and a T-shirt bearing a picture of the boy's grandfather - was considered appropriate, officials said. Another winner of the military's top award, Thomas Norris, also was turned away because he was not previously cleared for the tour.
Norris and the Baker family had turned down a previously arranged East Wing tour for the more exclusive visit to the West Wing.
"This is an unfortunate misunderstanding," White House spokesman Adam Abrams said Thursday. "We would have loved to have hosted 10-year-old
A message left at the home of Baker's widow, Heidy, who was also on the tour, was not immediately returned.
In 1945, Baker rallied black troops after their white commander deserted and they captured a German stronghold in
Baker and six other black World War II veterans received medals posthumously at a 1997 White House ceremony.
Baker had lived since the 1980s in a valley near
The office of Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is working with the Baker family to help them return to the White House, said press secretary Susan Wheeler.
"The senator was upset by the news," Wheeler said. "We want to make sure they are comfortable."