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A hero’s father tells of sacrifice

During his fourth deployment to Afghanistan, Corporal Cameron Baird’s final act of courage on June 22, 2013, earned him Australia’s 100th Victoria Cross.

On that day, Cpl Baird’s commando platoon of the Special Operations Task Group, with partners from the Afghan National Security Forces, conducted a helicopter assault in Uruzgan province to attack an insurgent network deep in enemy-held territory.

On three separate occasions, Cpl Baird charged an enemy-held building inside a prepared insurgent compound, selflessly drawing fire away from his team.

On the third, enemy fire was seen to strike the ground and walls around him, before visibility was obscured by dust and smoke. The enemy had been neutralised, but Cpl Baird was killed in the effort.

Cpl. Cameron BairdCpl. Cameron Baird
Camera IconCpl. Cameron Baird Credit: AP

Yesterday, Cpl Baird’s father Doug Baird, who received his son’s Victorian Cross in 2014, addressed a Remembrance Day Service at the Albany War Memorial on York Street.

Mr Baird said he was honoured to be invited to Albany and to make his first visit to the place where so many Anzacs had their last glimpse of Australia.

“It’s where the first ships sailed from, the history in this town itself is just enormous,” Mr Baird said. “I’m not sure the general population fully understands just how important it is.

“Groups of Australian and New Zealanders departed from here, and a lot those were the first ones who made the initial landing at Gallipoli on that disastrous morning.”

In yesterday’s address, Mr Baird said Remembrance Day meant different things to different people, with so many lives lost in various conflicts and many Australians serving now.

“For Australia, the First World War remains the costliest conflict,” he said.

“For a population of fewer than five million, 460,809 men and women enlisted, from whom more than 60,000 were killed and more than 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.

“We remember and honour those who lost their lives, we say thank you to all who have served — and that is something we never take for granted.”

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