“It is with great pride that I confirm the awarding of the nation’s highest military honour, the Victoria Cross for Australia, to Corporal Cameron Baird, MG of the 2nd Commando Regiment. It is with sadness I announce the honour is being conferred posthumously,” Defence Minister David Johnston said today.
Corporal Baird was killed in action by small arms fire on Saturday, 22 June, 2013, battling insurgents in Uruzgan Province, in southern Afghanistan. He was 32 years old.
Corporal Baird was an exemplary Commando, dedicated, disciplined and driven to the pursuit of excellence.
His leadership and actions saved the lives of his comrades in Team Alpha and the Afghan Provincial Response Company who were conducting a partnered operation to disrupt an insurgent network operating in the Khod Valley.
“He displayed great courage and bravery leading his team under heavy fire at close range, with minimal visibility, to successfully clear the insurgent position,” Senator Johnston said.
“The compound housed a number of insurgents. It also contained a significant cache of weapons, ammunition and equipment which was removed from the battlefield, potentially saving the lives of innocent Afghans as well as Australian and Coalition Forces.”
During the same engagement, an Australian Special Forces soldier was seriously wounded and a RAAF member was also wounded.
Members of the patrol provided immediate first aid to the casualties who were aero-medically evacuated to the Role 2 Medical Facility at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot. Sadly, despite their efforts, they could not save one of their mates.
Described by his family as a humble, quiet and self-effacing soldier, his mates describe him as one of the most iconic figures in the Regiment, an inspirational leader and a true modern day warrior.
Corporal Baird was awarded the Medal for Gallantry as a Lance Corporal, for his actions during close quarter combat in Afghanistan in November 2007 when he led his team forward under heavy fire to recover a wounded comrade.
Corporal Baird’s citation, which will include the specific details of his actions, will be announced by Her Excellency the Governor General, the Honourable Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO on Tuesday, 18 February, 2014.
Cameron Stewart Baird was born in Burnie, Tasmania on 7 June 1981.
In 1984, the Baird family moved to Gladstone Park, Victoria, where Cameron completed his primary and secondary education. He was a keen sportsman, particularly excelling at Australian Rules football.
Corporal Baird enlisted in the Australian Army on 4 January, 2000. After completing his initial training, in February of that year, he was posted to 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment, now 2nd Commando Regiment based at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney, New South Wales.
Corporal Baird deployed on several operations including Operation TANAGER (Timor-Leste) in 2001, Operations BASTILLE (Iraq) and FALCONER (Iraq) in 2003 and Operation SLIPPER (Afghanistan) in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999