Baird to be added to county memorial

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By Natasha LaFayette

It has been eight months since PFC. Claude Leon Baird was remembered in a memorial service and given a final resting place in Campbell County.

Family and friends shared memories of the young man who went away to serve his country in the second Taiwan Crisis over 50 years ago, during a ceremony at Campbell County Memorial Gardens in October 2008. A headstone with Baird’s name reads, “Missing in action.”

While those three words have confused Baird’s family for over a century, they are looking forward to honoring his memory among the other veterans of the county.

This Memorial Day, Baird’s sister, Sue Walden, is holding strong to the memory of her older brother.

Through her efforts with the county veterans office, Baird will not only have his resting place but he will also soon be listed among his comrades on the Campbell County Memorial in Jacksboro.

“He will be joining his comrades who gave their lives in the line of duty while serving their country,” said Walden.

Baird was declared missing in action on Oct. 1, 1958, while serving in the Military Assistance Advisory Group. The plane he and others flew on was possibly hijacked back to China or went missing over the Formosa Straights.

A presumptive finding of death was declared on Oct. 2, 1959, according to Walden. However, the veteran’s office prolonged listing Baird because he was still considered missing in action.

“There was not a body, so there was not a certificate of death,” said Veteran’s Service Officer Kevin Walden as he noted the excessive amount of paperwork to be filed in the process of honoring individuals.

The memorial committee offered to list Baird under the Other Crisis category, but the family refused. Insistent on having Baird’s name listed under the appropriate war, Sue Walden has waited and continued to appeal to the committee.

Leroy Morgan, committee chairman, said this time the committee will definitely get Baird’s name listed on the memorial.

“It should have been done a long time ago,” said Morgan about the family’s perseverance to see Baird’s name listed.

Sue Walden, soft spoken and sensitive to her brother’s demise will at last see Baird’s name honored among the many veterans who gave their lives.

“He could still be considered MIA, but given it has been 50 years he is probably passed,” said Morgan. “Hopefully this will give them (the family) some closure.”