Today the parents of Corporal Cameron Baird VC MG were present as the Australian War Memorial welcomed a new display of equipment worn by their son during the action for which he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia.
Speaking on behalf of the Baird family, Cameron’s father, Doug, said it was appropriate for his son’s equipment to be held at the Australian War Memorial as it honours both Cameron and the 2nd Commando Regiment.
“The Memorial’s staff will preserve it and allow Australians, in a small way, to understand what Australian servicemen and servicewomen did in Afghanistan,” said Mr Baird.
In February 2014 Corporal Baird was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia following his heroic actions during an engagement with insurgents in the Khod Valley, in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province, on 22 June 2013.
The new display features Corporal Baird’s Victoria Cross and Medal for Gallantry, as well as his rifle and grenade launcher, Tiered Body Armor System, helmet, and boots.
The Director of the Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, paid tribute to Corporal Baird and his 2nd Commando Regiment colleagues, acknowledging their contribution to the nation.
“Cameron Baird, by any standards, was an extraordinary man, from an extraordinary group of men of 2 Commando. He exhibited the most valour and courage beyond our understanding,” Dr Nelson said.
“We are privileged today, having worked with 2 Commando and Doug and Kaye Baird to present some of the items that Cameron was wearing the day he died, to give a sense of the danger and violence of the work that people like Cameron do on our behalf.
“This display contributes to the continuing story of the Australian experience of war, and acts as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made in our most recent conflict.”
Baird’s story is told in the Memorial’s Hall of Valour, which honours all Australians who received the Victoria Cross, the nation’s highest award for bravery in time of war. Amid great battles and the movements of armies, the exploits of courageous individuals have always provided inspiration.
“Corporal Baird’s story is among those of the men and women whose deeds form an immortal part of our nation’s history. I am sure many Australians will want to learn more about Corporal Baird’s remarkable courage and selfless service,” Dr Nelson concluded.
Corporal Baird was the 100th Australian to receive a Victoria Cross since the award was first was created by Queen Victoria in 1856. His was also the fourth VC awarded to Australians for service in Afghanistan.
Baird’s citation reads:
For the most conspicuous acts of valour, extreme devotion to duty and ultimate self-sacrifice at Ghawchak village, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, as a Commando Team Commander in the Special Operations Task Group on Operation Slipper.
On 22 June 2013, Corporal Baird displayed conspicuous valour and ultimate self-sacrifice in close combat with a determined enemy. With complete disregard for his own safety, he repeatedly drew enemy fire to himself in order to allow his team to manoeuvre, and charged prepared enemy positions in the face of heavy fire. His efforts enabled the enemy to be neutralised and kept his team safe, but ultimately cost him his life. His actions were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
Corporal Baird’s name is also inscribed on the Memorial’s Roll of Honour, among 41 others killed as a result of their service in Afghanistan.
His full medal group comprises the following honours and awards:
- Victoria Cross for Australia
- Medal for Gallantry
- Australian Active Service Medal with “East Timor”, “Iraq 2003”, and “International Coalition Against Terrorism” clasps
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal
- Iraq Campaign Medal
- Australian Service Medal with “Counter Terrorism/Special Recovery” clasp
- Australian Defence Medal
- United Nations Medal with “United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor” ribbon
- NATO Non-Article 5 Medal with “ISAF” clasp and “3” multiple-tour indicator
- Infantry Combat Badge
- Returned from Active Service badge.
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