Corporal Cameron Baird, VC, MG, is often remembered as a face-painted warrior from the popular portrait, but his closest mates also remember him as a “monk”.
To mark the 10th anniversary of Corporal Baird’s death in Afghanistan, 2 Commando Regiment held a commemoration at Holsworthy Barracks on June 22.
Sergeant J, part of his assault team, said Corporal Baird could quickly understand a situation – a gunfight – and knew intuitively what to do, having a tactical acumen of the highest order.
“Cam was very much that warrior, but he was also the monk. There was a peace to him that is less spoken about,” Sergeant J said.
“People see that image of Cameron with his camouflage-painted face, Cameron the warrior, but they didn’t see the other side, the softer side, the beers and ice-cream side of Cameron.”
Chris Dyer, lifelong friend and president of the charity Cam’s Cause, said Corporal Baird excelled at everything he did with ease.
“For such a big guy, he had so much empathy and respect. Cam had virtues from a really young age that we as adults often seek,” Mr Dyer said.
“He knew who he was, almost like he’d been here before.”
When Corporal Baird was going through school, he knew who the guys copping hard times were, and would give them a high five, talk with them and give encouragement.
“You could tell that was like sunshine on their backs, it gave them a bit of a lift,” Mr Dyer said.
One of his comrades, Sergeant K, said Corporal Baird would take “everyone for who they were and find ways to inspire everyone to be a better professional and a better person”.
Corporal Baird was posthumously awarded the VC after a battle in Uruzgan province on June 22, 2013, involving assaulting multiple enemy positions while under heavy small-arms fire, drawing enemy fire and suppressing a machine-gun position to support another team, whose commander was seriously wounded, and setting conditions for his team to regain the initiative.
Corporal Baird then forced his way into hostile buildings while under fire, charging a fortified enemy position three times to draw fire away from his team. The enemy was destroyed, but it cost Corporal Baird his life.
Colonel H, Officer Commanding Bravo Company, 2nd Commando Regiment, and ground mission commander the day Corporal Baird was killed, said he always led from the front.
Corporal Baird and other non-commissioned officers killed in action have influenced the way commandos are now trained and the way their team commanders teach them, according to Colonel H.
“A true test of leadership is what impact do you as a leader have on a person 10 years later,” Colonel H said.
As part of the commemoration, Special Operations Command’s Holsworthy Barracks conference centre was named in Corporal Baird’s honour, with his family, Chief of Army, 2nd Commando Regiment and other special forces community personnel present.
Later that day, 2nd Commando Regiment soldiers lined up against the unit’s officers in an Aussie Rules game in memory of Corporal Baird, who followed his father’s footsteps and was a talented amateur player before joining Army.
In a result Corporal Baird would have been proud to take part in, the soldiers prevailed over the officers: 15.10 (100) to 3.7 (25).