KILLED IN ACTION - 22 JUNE 2013
Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird, VC, MG, first joined the Australian Army on 4 January 2000 and demonstrated an early aptitude for soldiering. After completing his initial training, he was posted to the 4th Battalion (Commando), Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR (Cdo)), which was renamed the 2nd Commando Regiment on 19 June 2009.
Over the next four years, (then) Private Baird deployed to Timor-Leste (East Timor), Afghanistan and Iraq, before leaving the Army in July 2004. In September 2006, Private Baird re-enlisted in the Army and returned to 4 RAR (Cdo) at Holsworthy, NSW.
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 22–23 November 2007, he was nominated and subsequently awarded the Medal for Gallantry ‘for gallantry in action during close quarters combat’.
On 22 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 13 February 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, MP, announced in the Australian Parliament that Corporal Baird would be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia for his actions on that day in the Khod Valley. Corporal 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 Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.”
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 18 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.
Corporal Baird received 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 (ICAT)’ clasps
Australian Service Medal with ‘Counter-Terrorism/Special Recovery (CT/SR)’ clasp
Australian Defence Medal
United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor Medal
NATO Meritorious Service Medal
NATO Non-Article 5 Medal with ‘International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’ clasp and multi-tour indicator ‘3’
Meritorious Unit Citation – Task Force 66 (Special Operations Task Group), Afghanistan
Infantry Combat Badge
Returned from Active Service Badge
CORPORAL CAMERON BAIRD, VC, MG - VICTORIA CROSS CITATION
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 Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.
Corporal Cameron Baird enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 2000, was discharged in 2004, and re-enlisted in 2006. In both periods of service, he was assigned to the 4th Battalion (Commando), Royal Australian Regiment. His operational service includes Operations TANAGER, FALCONER, BASTILLE and four tours on Operation SLIPPER. He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his service in Afghanistan in 2007–08.
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 toward 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 suppressed 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 the enemy, 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 the 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.
Corporal Baird’s acts of valour and self-sacrifice regained the initiative and preserved the lives of his team members. His actions were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.
CORPORAL CAMERON BAIRD, VC, MG - MEDAL FOR GALLANTRY CITATION
For gallantry in action during close-quarters combat in [Uruzgan province] Afghanistan on Operation SLIPPER.
Lance Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird was part of a commando company mission assigned for clearance and search of a Taliban stronghold [over the period 22–23] November 2007. During the initial phase of the clearance, Lance Corporal Baird’s platoon came under heavy re and during the ensuing close-range re- ght, 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 re from machine guns and assault ri es 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 constant re, Lance Corporal Baird continually moved amongst his team members coordinating their re, and throwing grenades to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions. 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.
Throughout the action, Lance Corporal Baird displayed conspicuous gallantry, composure and superior leadership under re. He was personally responsible for killing several enemy combatants during the clearance, ensuring the momentum of the assault was maintained, and undoubtedly preventing further members of his section from becoming casualties. His performance and his actions were of the highest order and were in the nest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.