b. 07/06/1981 Burnie, Tasmania, Australia. d. 22/06/2013 Khod Valley, Afghanistan.
Cameron Stewart Baird (1981-2013) was born in Burnie, Tasmania, on 7th June 1981, the son of Kaye and Doug Baird, a former Carlton Football Club player who, at the time, was coaching the Cooee Football Club. In 1984, Cameron, his parents and older brother Brendan, moved to Victoria and grew up in Gladstone Park, a north western suburb of Melbourne. Baird was educated Gladstone Views Primary School before completing his Victorian Certificate of Education at Gladstone Park Secondary College.
Baird joined the Army in January 2000 and upon completion of his initial employment training was posted to the then 4th Battalion (Commando), Royal Australian Regiment, now the 2nd Commando Regiment, in February 2000. After being discharged in 2004, Baird re-enlisted in 2006 and in both periods of service, he was assigned to the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando).
In mid-2007, (then) Lance Corporal Baird again deployed to Afghanistan and, during a Special Operations Task Group night-time operation in Uruzgan province over 22nd–23rd November 2007, he was nominated and subsequently awarded the Medal for Gallantry ‘for gallantry in action during close quarters combat’.
Lance Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird was part of a Commando Company mission assigned for clearance and search of a Taliban stronghold in November 2007. During the initial phase of the clearance, Lance Corporal Baird's Platoon came under heavy fire and during the ensuing close-range fire-fight, a member of his team was mortally wounded. Displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Baird led other members of his team forward under heavy fire from machine guns and assualt rifles to recover the wounded team member back to a position of cover.
He then re-entered the compound and continued to engage the enemy. Even though under consant fire, Lance Corporal Baird continually moved amongst his team members coordinating their fire, and throwing grenades to neutralise the enemy machine gun position. Once the close quarter battle had been won, Lance Corporal Baird again led his team forward and began room-to-room clearance, where he was again engaged by several enemy. Lance Corporal Baird continued to lead the fight, killing several enemy and successfully completing the clearance.
On 22nd June 2013, Corporal Baird was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan and leading his Special Operations Task Group team when he was killed during an engagement with insurgents in the Khod Valley, Uruzgan province. On 22 June 2013 a Commando Platoon of the Special Operations Task Group, with partners from the Afghan National Security Forces, conducted a helicopter assault into Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, in order to attack an insurgent network deep within enemy-held territory. Shortly after insertion, Corporal Baird's team was engaged by small arms fire from several enemy positions. Corporal Baird quickly seized the initiative, leading his team to neutralise the positions, killing six enemy combatants and enabling the assault to continue.
Soon afterwards, an adjacent Special Operations Task Group team came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its commander being seriously wounded. Without hesitation, Corporal Baird led his team to provide support. En route, he and his team were engaged by rifle and machine gun fire from prepared enemy positions. With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Baird charged towards the enemy positions, supported by his team.
On nearing the positions, he and his team were engaged by additional enemy on their flank. Instinctively, Corporal Baird neutralised the new threat with grenades and rifle fire, enabling his team to close with the prepared position. With the prepared position now isolated, Corporal Baird manoeuvred and was engaged by enemy machine gun fire, the bullets striking the ground around him. Displaying great valour, he drew the fire moved to cover, and supressed the enemy machine gun position. This action enabled his team to close on the entrance to the prepared position, thus regaining the initiative.
On three separate occasions Corporal Baird charged an enemy-held building within the prepared compound. On the first occasion he charged the door to the building, followed by another team member. Despite being totally exposed and immediately engaged by enemy fire, Corporal Baird pushed forward while firing into the building. Now in the closest proximity to the enemy, he was forced to withdraw when his rifle ceased to function. On rectifying his rifle stoppage, and reallocating remaining ammunition within his team, Corporal Baird again advanced towards the door of the building, once more under heavy fire. He engaged the enemy through the door but was unable to suppress the position and took cover to reload.
For a third time, Corporal Baird selflessly drew enemy fire away from his team and assaulted the doorway. Enemy fire was seen to strike the ground and compound walls around Corporal Baird, before visibility was obscured by dust and smoke. In this third attempt, the enemy was neutralised and the advantage was regained, but Corporal Baird was killed in the effort.
Baird’s body was returned to Australia where he was buried in Reedy Creek Baptist Church Cemetery, Gold Coast, Queensland. Corporal Baird’s parents, Mr Doug & Mrs Kaye Baird, were presented with the Victoria Cross for Australia by the (then) Governor-General, The Hon. Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO, during a ceremony at Government House, Canberra, on 18th February 2014.
Corporal Baird is only the fourth recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia and the first to receive it posthumously. He is the 100th Australian to receive the Victoria Cross since the award was first created by Queen Victoria in 1856. Cameron’s parents donated his medals to the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. In 2014, family and friends of Cameron Baird set up “Cam’s Cause”, a non-profit organisation to tell Cameron’s story and also raise money for veterans. In 2016 it became a charity, and has now donated over AUS$35,000 to the Commando Welfare Trust.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA. (LOAN)
BURIAL PLACE: REEDY CREEK BAPTIST CHURCH, GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA
Doug and Kaye Baird pictured with Prince Harry
Rookwood Crematorium, Sydney (Richard Yielding)