• Honoring Thomas E. Baird

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  • Banner Placement - Home with Family

  • Thomas E. Baird (Tom) was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio.  He was drafted into the U.S. Army on April 5, 1969.  In those days, the draft was conducted by a lottery --- if you had a low number, you were certain to be drafted, and a high number meant that you wouldn’t need to serve.  Toms number was 117 and they drafted up to number 119.  He reported to basic training, and at age 24, was the old man” in his barracks.  The Viet Nam war still under way and being drafted meant that you were going over.”  

    After basic training, Tom received special training in the K-9 Corps of the Military Police.  He was paired with a beautiful, 95 pound German Shepard named Rowdy.  Rowdy and Tom were best buddies, but Rowdy could be very aggressive with other people given the proper command.  Tom and Rowdy graduated first in their class and were assigned to give a special performance at the graduation ceremony.  They were highly trained and each depended completely on the other for their wellbeing. 

    After graduation, they were assigned to the 981st MP Company.  Tom says that duty for the MPs in his company was very stressful.  At night, he and Rowdy would patrol around ammunition storage areas, and later they guarded huge fuel storage tanks.  If the Viet Cong wanted to steal ammunition or fuel, they would kill to gain access.  Or, if they wanted to destroy the storage area, the resulting explosions would kill everyone in the area.  The MPs had to be on constant guard every second, all night long.  Then, during the day, when the MPs were off duty, they would often play volley ball on the beaches which were much like Floridas beaches. The emotional swings between day time leisure and then night time duty were tremendous.  Later, Tom and Rowdy guarded helicopters and this was his favorite assignment.

    Tom and Rowdy had been inseparable for a long period of time, but Toms duty came to an end.  He was discharged on November 6, 1970 having attained the rank of SP4 which is equivalent to corporal.   Tom had a party for Rowdy on his last day in Viet Nam, and saying goodbye was difficult.  Rowdy returned to the K-9 training school where he was scheduled to be paired with another soldier.

    Tom returned to the central Ohio area for a short time.  He says that the thing he liked about Viet Nam was the warm weather, so he said goodbye to central Ohio and moved to Florida where he owned and operated a restaurant for 36 years.  Now, in retirement, Tom works whenever he wishes as a substitute school teacher.  He is assigned to several schools, but most enjoys working with the high school students at a school near his home.  Tom is enjoying his semi-retirement” and the warm weather he learned to love while in Viet Nam.

    - The Baird Family