DAVID HURLEY: As you can understand, today is a day of mixed emotions – enormous pride in the great courage Cameron Baird that showed on the battlefield, the tremendous leadership he exhibited throughout his service in the Armed Forces and as members of the ADF, the Army in particular, have mourned him in the past, today they will celebrate his bravery.
But it is a very sad day, as you can well imagine, in that it evokes all the memories of last year when Cameron was sadly killed on the battlefield. It is important we acknowledge today his family, support them and honour them. Brendan would like to speak on behalf of the family. He will come forward to do that. When he concludes that, the Baird family are prepared to take a few questions but as you can imagine and understand, this is, as I have said, a very emotional day for them so we will limit that opportunity. Thank you.
BRENDAN BAIRD: I would like to make the following statement on behalf of my brother Cameron, our father Doug, and our mother Kaye.
Today is a proud day for the Baird family. It is a tremendous honour for us to be here on Cameron’s behalf for this announcement. We would like to thank the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force for the recognition this award bestows upon Cameron, our son and brother. As a loving family, this is a bittersweet moment, as Cameron is no longer with us. But we are honoured to have him recognised in this way and, through him, all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their beloved country.
We would especially like to thank our extended family, the 2nd Commando Regiment, for their unwavering support. Cameron never liked the limelight. He was a very humble man who would not see this as an individual award but a recognition of all at 2nd Commando Regiment. We accept this award not only on behalf of Cameron, but for all his brothers, his team, his company and his regiment.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. Lest we forget. Without warning.
We have had four Victoria Crosses from Afghanistan. What does that say about – is that a high number, in your view, and what does it say about the sort of conflict that has been fought there, largely out of view because it has mainly involved special forces?
DAVID HURLEY: I think this award recognises that our soldiers and our servicemen and women who have been fighting in Afghanistan have fought a very hard war in the last five or six years; much of it fought amongst difficult terrain in urban environments and, as you will see when the Governor-General releases the citation for Corporal Baird, in very difficult conditions and complex environments. This has been a hard war. Four Victoria Crosses – we don’t talk about quotas for bravery. This is recognition of a great act of bravery by a very special man.
If I could just ask one of you, perhaps. We are very sorry for your loss and I imagine this goes some way to make up for what you have lost, but can you tell us what he was like as a young bloke perhaps? Do you think he is the sort of person who would have been surprised by this award? And a little more about how he felt about the regiment?
DOUG BAIRD: Look, it’s an excellent question because Cameron’s life was basically in two separate sections. It was basically from his early days of primary, secondary school, at which he was an outstanding sportsman, at one stage Australian champion discus thrower and also outstanding footballer that probably should have been drafted but wasn’t due to the fact he had to have a shoulder reconstruction in his last year.
The second half of his life was spent with the Army and, during that period of time as parents, we often asked what do you actually do? And the answer we got back was probably one of almost like the person that puts the sticker on an apple. It was a pretty simple little answer. He was very shy in the fact he was more for putting any praise on the actual unit itself, his team. He was extremely humble sort of person that probably would prefer to see this thing be deflected.
I think in the statement that Brendan read out probably sums him up, that he sees this not only as an individual award, or certainly not about him. It’s about his initial team, his company and his regiment. That’s what it was all about.
If I could just read a couple of lines, it is probably the last time I will come up here. It is a simple little thing and it is something given to each soldier as he passes out: The Soldier’s Code.
I have the honour to be a Soldier in the Australian Army. I am a custodian of traditions forged in battle by the ANZACs.
I treat others with dignity and respect and expect others to do the same.
I strive to develop my proficiency and competency in the Profession of Arms.
I do not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage.
At all times I act in ways that will bring honour to Australia, and credit upon the Army, my unit and my fellow soldiers.
And I think that sums Cameron up. Thank you.
DAVID HURLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much, I think we will end it there. Thank you for coming along.