History of Robert A Baird
Contributor: dmullinnix Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
History of Robert A. Baird
Prepared May 2010 by Robert A. Baird Jr.
If there is one word to describe Robert that distinguished him from others, it is the word aviator. Robert graduated from Payson, Utah High School in the spring of 1941 and a few months later earned his pilot's license in September 1941. He would fly a small plane over his parents' farm in Payson, Utah doing stunts and scaring his mother and father. He received a one hundred dollar scholarship to Utah State University and attended the school during the fall of 1941 and spring of 1942. In May of 1942 he joined the US Air Force (the US Army Air Corps in the 1940's) during World War Two and started his pilot training at Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas, graduating a Second Lieutenant on 4 August 1943. He also met his wife to be in Waco, Texas and shortly thereafter he and Leda Thompson were married on 12 August 1943 in the Salt Lake City, Utah LDS Temple. Unfortunately Robert's life ended 11 November 1966 doing what he loved most - flying airplanes. Tragically, the Lockheed Super Constellation EC-121 Air Defense plane he was flying along with the other crew of 18 men, mysteriously crashed in the North Atlantic Ocean on 11 November 1966. This same type of airplane,
but a different configuration, is the airplane the family flew home on after living in England. As a result of Robert's service in the Air Force, Robert and Leda along with their eight children, lived in many areas where small, developing branches and wards of the LDS church were located. The family was able to help the LDS church in service, growth and development. As one example of many, Robert was the Branch President of the Cape Cod Branch in the Boston Massachusetts Stake when his plane went down. Rather than focus on the tragic end, this history will cover Robert's life and will include information about the plane crash. More importantly it will cover the contributions and accomplishments of Robert during his life. Robert's legacy lives on through his posterity of eight children, nineteen grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, as his extended family continues to grow and expand.
Each person has many histories depending on the writer's viewpoint and context. This history prepared by Robert's oldest son is potentially different than a history, written by his wife, mother, youngest son or sister. In looking backward and preparing this history I have lived in different and various cultural contexts that are different than those of another history preparer. An interesting note; I have been able to locate only a few materials and documents prepared by Robert himself about his life. I have not been able to find a complete autobiographical history. After reading this history the reasons for lack of historical materials may become more obvious as a result of Robert's service in the military, nuclear programs work and the associated security requirements. I thought it might be important to prepare a history before time erases the memory. Information from histories and materials about others with information about Robert prepared by his brothers and sisters, father, mother and his children were used in developing this history. Additionally, information from various military documents, a few family documents and some letters written by Robert were sources of information used in development of this history. I have been unable to locate any materials written by Robert himself, so I have borrowed shamelessly from histories written by his mother, father and four brothers and sisters, Fred, Ruth, Rachel, Alan and his wife Leda.
Robert was born on 27 February 1922 in Provo, Utah. His mother and father were Abner and Hazel Baird who were married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple on 11 May 1921. They first lived in Upalco, Duchesne County, Utah where Robert's father, Abner, had an apiary of bees. Hazel, Robert's mother, reported in her history the following: "we lived in a little two room log house with dirt roof, there was no ceiling in it but we took out yards of unbleached muslin and tacked this over the rafters and made us a ceiling. The walls were bare so we papered the walls and made curtains for the window. We were so happy!" 1
In October 1921 Abner and Hazel moved to Provo, Utah. In Provo they rented a home at 384 East 6th Street. Robert was born while they lived in this house a few months later on 27 February 1922. He was blessed in church on 2 April 1922 by Joseph B. Keeler. In the fall of 1922 Abner and Hazel moved to Colton, California where Hazel, in her life history, reports Robert learned to walk. Hazel also commented in her history about Robert's eyes. "His eyes were large and dark brown, almost black. When Orrin, Abner's older brother looked at them he
1. page 72, Lest We Forget, Remember, Oh, Remember. By F. T. Baird 2007. Printed by
Stevenson's Genealogy Center LLC, Provo, UT.
said, His eyes will be blue in a month or so, no Bairds have dark eyes. I don't think so.
As I remember my Grandfather Twede he had black eyes which is unusual for Danish people. His mother Marinett Halle must have dark eyes, in fact a researcher on Twede Line, Eva Gregerson, said she felt somewhere in the line there was Jewish blood. My father had blue eyes but his sisters that I knew, Delia and Thora, had black eyes. These dark eyes have been in Robert's, Fred's, Rachel's, Ruth's and Alan's families so it looks like a dominant characteristic. Anyway Robert's eyes never changed color." 2
From California Hazel and Abner moved to Heber, Utah in May 1923. In October 1923 they moved again to Provo, this time they lived at 309 East 7th North. Robert's brother Fredrick, was born there on 5 April 1924. In May of 1925 Abner and Hazel, now with two children, Robert being the oldest, moved to Francis, Utah in Summit County about two miles south of Kamas. Robert's father was working with bees for a Mr. Miller. Robert's mother Hazel, reported in her history that Robert and Fred ...."had lots of fun up there, it was nice and cool and they loved to be outside." 3 In September Hazel returned to her mother's home on the West Mountain in Payson and Robert's first sister was born. Her name was Rachel Ann and she was born on 29 September 1925 at Rebecca Twede's home on West Mountain. Abner and Hazel moved from Francis, Utah this time back to Provo, Utah living at 568 East 6th North. In January of 1926 they bought a small house on University Hill in Provo, Utah. Robert's parents started raising chickens and rabbits. Robert's mother indicated in her history that both Robert and Fred liked to play with the rabbits.
Both Robert and Fred started attending Primary of the LDS church while they lived at University Hill. Their mother Hazel indicated that all three children contracted whooping cough while living on University Hill. A little later Abner and Hazel sold their home in Provo and moved out to the West Mountain with Hazel's parents and lived with them for about four months. Hazel and Abner bought a thirty acre farm across the road that included a small unfinished house in October 1926. In this home Robert grew up and spent his years living on the farm at West Mountain until Robert started college. There was no plumbing, electricity, or running water when they first moved in to the house. These luxuries were added later. Robert contracted
2. Page 73, Lest We Forget, Remember, Oh, Remember. By F. T. Baird 2007. Printed by
Stevenson's Genealogy Center LLC, Provo, UT.
3. From a hand written history written by Hazel Baird in possession of Robert A. Baird Jr.
whooping cough in June 1926, Red Measles in June 1930, and Chicken Pox March 1932. He was
immunized for Diphtheria in 1928, vaccinated for Small Pox in 1929, and inoculated for Scarlet Fever in October 1934 and Typhoid Fever in July 1935. He never got the mumps even though he slept in the same bed as his brother Fred who got the mumps. Robert's next sister, Ruth, was born on 14 February 1928. Alan, Robert's youngest brother, was born on October 6, 1930 and Robert was 8 years old at the time. Robert's grandfather Gideon Twede, passed away on 3 September 1931. Robert's father, Abner, bought his father-in law Fredrick Twede's eighty acre farm and expanded his own thirty acre farming operation.
Robert grew up living on the farm on West Mountain close to Payson Utah. His early
days were spent playing with the farm animals, watching the birds and collecting the various
insects and working with the bees, since his father was a bee man. Robert collected various butterflies, insects frogs, toads, bird eggs and Indian artifacts along the foothills where they lived. It was common to find Indian arrowheads. Since there was no TV to watch, evenings were spent reading and listening to stories read and told by his mother who was a great story teller.
Fred reports the following in his history about his older brother Robert; "We loved to play Relievrio, kick the can, marbles, cops and robbers and hide and seek. We made rubber guns; a wooded gun with a clothes pin fastened on the back. We stretched a circle of rubber cut from an old inner tube and fastened it to the clothes pin. When we pushed the clothes pin open, the rubber would fly to our intended target. Of course we would choose up sides and when one got hit he was out. My oldest brother, Robert, always seemed to design the best rubber gun that would shoot the farthest and hit the hardest. He even mounted double barrel gun which we all feared. Robert was always picked first." 4
Robert was baptized on 2 March, 1930 by Junior S. Dixon and confirmed by Freeman Bird in the Payson Fourth Ward Chapel, Payson, Utah. Robert started school in the first grade at the age of six at the Taylor School in Payson, Utah in August 1928. He attended the same school for the second and third grades. For the fourth and fifth grades he attended Peteetneet School. Robert indicated, "that the classes I enjoyed most while in elementary school were reading, geography and history." For the sixth grade Robert attended the Central School. The principal
4. Page 138, Lest We Forget, Remember, Oh, Remember. By F. T. Baird 2007. Printed by
Stevenson's Genealogy Center LLC, Provo, UT
was Howard Wilson, and the two teachers were Gus Johnson and Miss Ellsworth. The sixth grade was the only grade taught at the Central School between elementary school and Jr. High School. Robert attended Payson Jr. High from 1934 to 1937.
Robert's father, Abner, was a great Boy Scout earning his Eagle Badge and later was awarded the Silver Beaver Award, one of the highest scouting awards an adult can earn for his
many years of service. Abner Baird was scout master Troop Number 93 in the Payson Third Ward of the LDS church. In 1937 Abner Baird and his son Robert who was fifteen at the time attended the National Scout Jamboree in Washington DC. The following narrative reports on the adventure of attending the National Scout Jamboree.
"Our father, Abner, was a great Boy Scout leader. In fact, he was our scoutmaster, so we had a lot to live up to. Father's first calling in the Payson Third Ward was scoutmaster of Troop #93. In 1937 there was a national Scout Jamboree held in Washington DC. A. A. Anderson was the scout executive of the Utah National Parks Council. in June of that year he called our father to be scoutmaster of Troop #7. This troop was made up of boys from counties in Southern and eastern Utah, including Utah County, who would go to the national Jamboree. By now, Robert was fifteen and old enough to go. Monday 21 June --the big day arrived. Robert and Dad met the other scouts in Provo at 2 p.m. They marched down the avenue to the Union Station led by a drum corps, then boarded the train to Chicago where they took in a baseball game at Wrigley Field. They went on to Dearborn, Michigan and to
Greenfield Village to visit Henry Ford's museum
and watched a Ford car being assembled. Their next stop was at Niagara Falls, where Troop #7 stayed at Catara Hotel. At night the rainbow colored lights were turned on the falls. It was a sight never to be forgotten. They visited Palmyra, the Hill Cumorah, and the Sacred Grove. At Albany, they boarded a boat which took them down the Hudson River to New York City. From There, a train took them to Washington D.C. They erected their tents along the Potomac River near the Washington Monument. The Jamboree was a great success. The scout council sent a letter of commendation and thanks for the leadership our father exhibited."5
While on the way to the Jamboree the scout troop visited New York City. Some of the outstanding local New York City Scouts were assigned to be guides for the visiting troops.
5. Page 479, Lest We Forget, Remember, Oh, Remember. By F. T. Baird 2007. Printed by
Stevenson's Genealogy Center LLC, Provo, UT.
Henry Millman, a Sea Scout was the assigned guide for Troop 7 (the National Jamboree Scout troop from Utah). Robert became friendly with Henry and invited him to come and visit Utah and stay at the farm. The following summer Henry visited the Baird farm and attended The Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting in the Third Ward. They became lifelong friends. Twenty years later Henry Millman and his family joined the church. Robert indicated: " I feel that his association with the church during this period had a great influence on his life."6
Another great friend to both Robert and Fred was Max Bliss. Robert and Fred met Max when Abner hired several young men to thin sugar beets on the farm. Max was one of the boys and was older than Robert and Fred. After paying the men and boys after they completed their work assignment, Abner brought Max over to the house to visit. Max ending up staying with the Baird family for many years and Fred indicated in his history that Max became good friends with Fred and Robert even referring to each other as brothers. It's interesting to note that Robert, Fred and their father befriended many young men growing up with their friendly attitude, interest in things of nature, the farm, service in the scouts and church young men programs. Both Max and Henry became lifelong friends and were like family members.
Robert was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and the office of Deacon by Peter Sorenson on the 18 March, 1934 and to the office of Teacher by William Fred Tanner on 28 February 1937. Rulon J. Hill ordained Robert as a Priest on 29 January 1940. ( date is not verified).
Farm Life Was Hard Work Every Day
In a phone interview with Fred, Robert's brother, I asked Fred several questions about him and Robert growing up together on the farm. A few days later Fred sent some information about growing up on the farm. I decided to add the information intact (with some editing) as Fred tells about growing on the farm.
Farm life was hard work every day. The day started out with chores in the morning, milking the cows and separating the cream from the milk. Dad would sell the cream and feed the animals the skimmed milk (today we have to buy skim milk for our breakfast). We always saved enough whole milk to drink and had cream and honey for the whole wheat cereal. The cattle, pigs and chickens had to be fed before we could eat, so we had to get started early to do the work.
At breakfast, dad always outlined the work for the day. Our noon meal was always the biggest that was prepared by our mother and the girls. After
6. Taken from notes written by Robert Baird in possession of Robert Baird Jr.
eating we had about 20 minutes to rest and often Robert and I would wrestle out on the lawn in the shade. Robert usually won. The evening meal was usually a light supper then a family home evening every night. We would read , do school lessons and frequently pop some corn with an old wire mesh popper on the coal stove. We liked to listen to our mother read stories to us, then off to bed.
Our farm acreage was about 110 acres and sometimes more if we rented additional ground. Dad planted a lot of grain, alfalfa and row crops such as corn and sugar beets. Sugar beets were a cash crop, so dad planted a lot of beets that had to be blocked, thinned, weeded and irrigated. it took all year planting them early and harvesting them late with the team of horses and wagon. We had no tractor so the horses had to be harnessed every day and unharnessed at night. Robert and I could not keep up with the beets and our other chores so dad hire boys from town to come work for us.
I remember one day at noon the town boys had just finished their job as we were finishing our noon meal. From the window where our kitchen was we could see the road coming from or going into what we called the Twede farm of 80 acres where the beets were planted and we could see the car getting ready to leave after they got paid. I could hear my mom and dad talking about one of the boys that had been hired to thin the beets. We needed extra help so they made the decision to ask the boy, Max Bliss, if he would like to come live with us and work. He said yes, he would like to do that as his parents lived in the Delta, Utah area. Max climbed out of the car and came into the house and lived as one of the family for the next ten years or so. He was just like a brother to us and we liked him very much . So, Robert and I had an older brother living with us.
Robert never really liked farm work, he was dreaming about other things particularly the sky and airplanes. I remember one day as we were hoeing the corn, Robert stopped and looked up into the sky. I asked him what was going on and he replied: "I can hear an airplane" and he watched it as it appeared and never took his eyes off until long after it disappeared. (There were not many planes that flew over the farm in those days).
Dad was always interested in family history and so was Robert particularly after he entered the service. He would often write and ask me questions about the family and when he was near any of the old family locations he would go visit them and ask questions about our family. He would then send me what he found and was very helpful. By Fred Baird: 27 May 2010
As a small child Robert loved airplanes and bought many models and assembled them. As he grew older the planes in the sky were so fascinating he decided he wanted to become a pilot. The cities of Both Provo and Spanish Fork had small airports, so as a senior in high school he decided to take flying lessons. Robert began his flying lessons and liked them very much. He soon was able to solo and often flew over his home and the farm on West Mountain often doing tail spins, rolls and other maneuvers. He received his pilot's license on 6 September 1941.
Robert graduated from Payson High School in 17 May 1940 and received a 100 dollar
Sears & Roebuck Scholarship to attend Utah State University. He also completed all of the
requirements for graduation from the LDS Seminary program in 1939. One of the activities
Robert enjoyed doing was fencing and he attended a fencing class his first year of college.
Robert like his brother Fred enjoyed fishing, deer and pleasant hunting. Robert attended Utah State University during the 1940-41 academic year and continued on during 1942. In May of 1942 Robert joined the US Army Air Corps and started training in Sept 1942 at Coleman Airfield located in Coleman, Texas. Then he went on to Waco, Texas for additional training and met his future wife while attending the Waco Branch of the LDS Church. His next stop was Brooks Field located in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated on 26 June 1943 as a Second Lieutenant. Army Air Force orders indicated that Robert graduated from the Army Air Force's Advanced Flying School at Brooks Field, Texas with the rating of "Pilot" effective 26 June 1943. His father, mother, and sisters Ruth and Rachel traveled by bus from Utah to attend his graduation in Waco, Texas. Robert stayed on after graduation at Brooks Army Air Field and attended Observation School, then went to Matagorda Peninsula, Texas to a bombing and gunnery school. Army orders indicated Robert had completed the required course of instruction as a "Rated Aircraft Observer" effective 5 August 1943. Robert and a friend name Peck attended church at the LDS Branch in Waco, Texas where they met Lolita Thompson, the Sunday School teacher. Robert and his friend Peck were invited home to dinner by Lolita and her sister, Gloria. Leda indicated that Robert and his friend Peck went back to the Air Base and "we didn't have their phone number but he did come over to see me again."7 They started dating and their friendship grew into love and they were engaged. He then had some time off and a few days later Robert married Lolita Thompson in the Salt Lake LDS Temple on 12 August 1943 and they received their temple endowments at the same time. The sealing was performed by Brother Stephen L. Chipman. Lolita, or Leda as she was called, was a twin and the daughter of Joseph Thompson and Mabel McSherdon. It has been since determined that Joe had earlier changed his last name from Nickens to Thompson. On the marriage certificate of Joe and Mabel Thompson, the spelling of Mabel's name is Maybell McSherdon and Joe is Wessie Leland Nickens Married 15 July 1922 in Talladega County, Alabama. Lolita was the second of twin girls born 12 August 1925 at Port Arthur, Texas. Leda's twin sister's name is Gloria. Leda's mother was Mabel Viola McSherdon born 1 January 1907 and she died on 21 June 1988. Her father Joseph Thompson was born 4 June 1900 and died on 28 March 1970. His real name was Wessie Leland Nickens.
In the latter part of August 1925 Robert and his bride left Utah and traveled to Robert's next Air Force assignment at Charlotte, North Carolina and shortly thereafter again to Langley Field, Virginia. In Virginia he flew a few training missions for anti-aircraft batteries. In November 1943 he was transferred to Baltimore Air Field, Baltimore, Maryland. In reviewing an Air Force document titled "Hamilton Field, California History Sheet " Robert reported that he had a major aircraft accident in 1944 at Baltimore Maryland where the left landing gear collapsed on a C-46 aircraft while landing. No one was injured in the incident.
Robert and Leda's first son, Robert Jr. was born on 27 May 27, 1944 in Waco, Texas.
7. Quote taken from a history of Leda Baird written and prepared by Ruth Isaacson
Leda went home to Waco to have Robert Jr. A couple of months later she traveled by train with her new baby to join Robert in Providence, Rhode Island. On 4 August 1944 Robert was promoted to First Lieutenant and was transferred to Providence, Rhode Island. On 1 December 1944 Robert was transferred to Kansas City, Missouri where he had the assignment to ferry planes to various parts of the world to include Canada, South America, various states, Hawaii, Guam, Johnson Island, Bermuda, the Azores and Brazil. On one assignment he ferried a B-25
to India. The trip took almost a month to fly the airplane to India. He then saw Africa, Egypt, Iran, Agra, India where the Taj Mahal is located and also Arabia, Adan and many other interesting places. Fred, Robert's younger brother, reports in his history about getting married on 19 December 1944 to Sarah Adelicia Orton. Fred's leave was cancelled and he received orders telling him to report back immediately to his Army Post in Mississippi. While on the way from Salt Lake City a few days after his marriage, traveling to Mississippi, Fred stopped to see his brother Robert and Leda in Kansas City arriving on 24 December Christmas Eve. Fred continued on to Mississippi the next day, 25 December and later to Germany and the Battle of the Bulge serving with the Ninth Armored Division. Robert was then transferred to St Joseph, Missouri Rosecrans Air Field to C-46 Transport flight school where he earned his C-46 Instrument rating on 13 July 1945.
In August 1945 the United States dropped a terrible new weapon upon the Japanese and introduced the Atomic Age. An American Super Fortress B-29 airplane dropped a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. An area of four square miles was flattened by this one bomb and over 100,000 people were killed. Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. On the 10 of August 1945 the Japanese surrendered. Ten years later Robert would become an integral part of the atomic age becoming a nuclear weapons control officer. Orders dated 17 August 1945 indicated that Robert was assigned to fly and deliver a C-54 type aircraft to Karachi, India via Hamilton Field, Calif. on Project 94403. In route he was also assigned as a courier responsible for seven boxes of information for the Commanding General Far East Air Force-Manila. The boxes weighed on average about 125 pounds each as noted in the Army Orders dated 22 August 1945. The boxes were to be picked up in San Francisco (Hamilton Field) and transported to Honolulu, Hawaii. The orders also indicated the boxes were received in Hawaii in "good condition" the next day 23 August 1945. Not only was he responsible for ferrying the airplane he also had to deliver a half ton of classified documents. Listed below is the itinerary for his trip to ferry the airplane to India. (Taken from a military pay record).
Date Departed Arrival Date
8-17-1945 Departed Nashville, Tenn. Arrived Memphis, Tenn. 8-17-1945
8-20-1945 Departed Memphis, Tenn. Arrived Dallas, Texas 8-20-1945
8-20-1945 Departed Dallas, Texas Arrived Palm Springs, Calif. 8-21-1945
8-21-1945 Departed Pam Springs, Calif. Arrived Hamilton Field, Calif. 8-21-1945
(San Francisco, Calif.)
8-23-1945 Departed Hamilton Field, Calif. Arrived Hickman Field 8-23-1945
8-24-1945 Departed Hickman Field Arrived Johnson Island 8-24-1945
8-24-1945 Departed Johnson Island Arrived Kwajalein Island 8-25-1945
8-25-1945 Departed Kwajalein Island Arrived Guam 8-26-1945
8-30-1945 Departed Guam Arrived Manila, Philippines 8-30-1945
8-30-1945 Departed Manila, Philippines Arrived Kurmitola, * India 8-30-1945
9-1-1945 Departed Kurmitola, India Arrived Tezgon, India 9-1-1945
9-1-1945 Departed Tezgon,* India Arrived Calcutta, India 9-1-1945
9-2-1945 Departed Calcutta by other transportation to Karachi, India
* Kurmitola is now in Bangladesh and Tezgon also spelled Tezgaon is now in Bangladesh
Upon arriving in Karachi, India, military orders indicated that Robert was assigned to the 1345th AAF Unit located in the India China Army Division on 4 Sept 1945. A few days later, military records indicated that Robert was assigned as a pilot in the Bengal wing of the India China Division Air Transport Command dated 1 Oct 1945 otherwise known as the "Flying Tigers." Robert remained in India where he flew C-54s and C-46s over the hump. The hump is located along the Himalaya mountain range and is a dangerous place to fly airplanes mostly on instrument flights. He was stationed at Dacca Army Field not too far from Calcutta and saw Indian life in all its phases. He flew twenty-five missions over the hump transporting oil, soldiers, weapons and supplies. He reported many times he brought wounded soldiers out of China back to India. He also traveled around many parts of India and China on his days off from flying. Robert made all his flights successfully with no bad crashes but did have a couple of landings with no landing gear down or belly landings with no injuries.
Flying the Legendary Hump
When the Burma Road was closed in 1942, the only way to move supplies and troops from Assam, India to the American base located in the Kunming, China area was over the rugged Himalaya Mountains. The military planners decided the that an air route across some of the most rugged territory in the world, the Himalayan Mountains would have to be set up. The pilots flying from Kunming, China were better known as the Flying Tigers who were fighting the Japanese who were trying to invade China. During World War Two, both the fighter pilots and the air transport pilots were named as "Flying Tigers" and as noted earlier, Robert was assigned to the Bengal Air wing. Robert was a "Flying Tiger." The route gained the name as the China-Burma-India Hump or the CBI and was the aerial life line from the Assam Valley in India to Kunming, China. The Himalayas are rugged mountains with peaks in the 14,000-15,000 feet height and in many cases, peaks were higher. Flights from Assam to Kunming took several hours with unpredictable weather. The wind currents were a constant challenge along with the fierce storms. The air crews' bodies were stressed to the limit as the planes tried to fly beyond their limits at high altitudes. The aircraft would encounter up and down drafts, falling and rising thousands of feet without in an instant without warning. At other times without warning the airplanes would be flipped over by wind currents or whipped side to side. The other nickname given to flying the Hump was "Aluminum Alley" because of all the aluminum airplanes flying the air route. The two landing strips in Kunming, China were made of gravel and often caused tire blowouts on landings and takeoffs, sometimes flying all the way back to India with no tires and having to land. The flights would take several hours from India to China with a 2-4 hour layover and then another several hours or more to return to India. The primary plane flown by Robert was the C-46 Curtiss Commando transport. The C-46 had a double bubble aluminum fuselage for pressurized operation. Today airplanes routinely fly over the Himalayan Mountains but in the 1940's the flights over the Hump were a daunting challenge. During the three years of operation, 167,285 trips were completed, delivering 760,000 tons of air cargo. 792 lives were lost aboard 460 aircraft crashes with 701 major accidents. Robert performed 25 missions meaning he made 25 trips across the hump and 25 trips back for a total of 50 crossings across "Aluminum Alley" or the CBI. He did made a few belly landings, but otherwise safely flew and returned from the Hump. Meanwhile Robert's younger brother Fred was serving half way around the world in the European area of the war. His wife Leda, was in Waco Texas with their son Robert Jr.
After War Service
On 30 December 1945 Robert left Karachi, India and boarded the USSN General Stewart navy transport ship and left for the United States by way of Singapore, Japan, the Aleutians and back to the United States. Robert served 44 months during and after World War Two, and had circled the globe twice. Pretty unusual for a farm boy from Payson, Utah. Records show that Robert left active duty from the Army Air Corps on 3 April 1946 but stayed in the reserves. Joseph, Robert and Leda's second child, was born on 6 April 1946 in Waco Texas. Leda and Robert Jr. stayed with her parents in Waco while Robert was serving in India. After leaving the Air Force in 1946, Robert bought a 50 acre farm on the West Mountain close to Payson, Utah about a half mile north of his father's farm. Leda, Robert Jr. and Joe stayed a few months in Waco with her parents while Robert got the farm operational. Leda, and their two children, Robert Jr. and Joe moved to Utah the summer of 1946 and they all lived in the city of Payson in a basement apartment while they built their new house on the farm that Robert had bought.
Robert designed and built his first home on West Mountain not far from his parents' home. Alan, Robert's younger brother remembers the following: "Your father designed and build his home from the footings up to the roof doing much of the work himself. The exterior walls were constructed from surplus wooden ammunition boxes left over from World War Two. Lots of people used them as they were an inexpensive source of lumber. I believe his were about 14 inches by 14 inches by 10 inches and were nailed up one on top of the other. It made a good thick wall. My Dad (Abner Baird) used them to build chicken coops and other buildings on the farm. I think Fred may have used them to build his house on the West Mountain although I am not certain." 8 The home had a kitchen, living room, three bedrooms, a utility room
and a bathroom. Robert also build two chicken coops out of the wooden boxes.
Robert and Leda stated a farming business involving the production of eggs. They bought
8. Taken from notes written by Alan Baird in possession of Robert Baird Jr.
a breed of chickens called White Leghorns that produced white eggs instead of the typical brown eggs of the time. Leghorn chickens were excellent layers of white eggs. The baby chicks were ordered from a hatchery in Petaluma, California and shipped by train to Springville, Utah where Robert and Leda picked them up. They would order about 500-600 at a time, and put them in incubators on their farm. When the chickens were four to five months old they would
take them down to the bottom of the farm to the fields and the chickens continued to grow living outside except for a small lean too the chickens would stay in overnight. Leda reports that once or twice some dogs or other predators like coyotes destroyed about 400-500 of the chickens. In the early fall of the year when the chickens starting laying eggs they brought the chickens back into the chicken coops up by the house where they had set up automatic feeders and automatic watering of the chickens. The work was intense. At one point they had over 3000 chickens producing the new white eggs.
In 1946 Robert was called to be the Scoutmaster of Troop 93 the same troop he belonged to as boy and his father previously was the Scout Master. In 1948 he was called to the position as
district camping and activity chairman in the Scouting organization. Rachel Ann, Robert's younger sister, married David Ivins McOmber on 10 April 1947.
The price of eggs went down and it was no longer profitable to buy the chicken feed to feed the chickens. The farming operation started to lose money. Robert started work at the Geneva Steel Plant located in Orem, Utah where his brother Fred was already working. As a side note Robert's parents were disappointed that both Fred and Robert started working at
Geneva Steel. Robert worked in the furnace, tear down, and repair unit at the Geneva steel plant. It was hot dirty work and even harder than farming. Hazel Ann was born on 26 March 1948 in Payson. Robert Also attended BYU in 1948-49. Blaine Thompson was born on 24 October 1950. Ruth, Robert's younger sister married Roy Mark Bartholomew on 21 June 1951. Randall T., Robert and Leda's fifth child was born on 12 April 1952. Leda reported that...."Farming was a hard life and I didn't like it. In fact, I hated it. The children were just little and couldn't help. In fact, we had to keep them away from the chickens because they were a nuisance." 9
In January 1953 Robert re-entered the U.S. Air Force again for the Korean War and moved off his farm never to return. His father took over the operation of the farm while Robert
9. Quote taken from a history of Leda Baird written and prepared by Ruth Isaacson
and Leda retained ownership. Air Forces orders dated 3 January 1953 indicated that Robert was assigned to Greenville AFB, Mississippi for approximately 8 weeks plus travel time for the purpose of undergoing refresher training. Just about everybody agrees that Robert had little desire to farm and was less interested in working at Geneva Steel in Orem, Utah. His love
besides his family was flying airplanes. He moved to Greenville, Mississippi in Jan 1953 to attend pilot retraining his first assignment upon re-entering the Air Force. The family followed a few months later. The next place they lived for a short period of time was Jacksonville, Florida and then Robert was transferred to Ardmore, Oklahoma in late 1953. Alan, Robert's youngest brother, married Priscilla Boswell on 24 September 1953.
Robert was transferred to Stenis, Texas close to San Antonio, in 1954 and then again was transferred to Walker Air Force Base located next to Roswell, New Mexico in 1955. Interestingly at the time Walker air Force was the largest strategic air force Base. Robert flew the KC 97 refueling airplane. While living in Roswell, Robert and Leda were very active in the
local branch of the LDS Church and there was a lot of opposition from other churches primarily, from a Baptist church. Both Robert and Leda were very active in helping the church grow, serving in various callings. In the fall of 1955 Robert's parents Abner and Hazel, were called and asked to serve on a mission to the Eastern States. At the farewell before their departure Robert, was on the program and spoke at the farewell meeting of his father and mother held on 13 November 1955.
The next place that Robert and family lived was Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver, and was assigned to Lowery Air Force Base. Karen was born in Aurora, Colorado on 8 August 1956. The family attended church in the Fourth Ward of the Denver Stake. At Lowry Air Force Base Robert was assigned to the U.S. Air Force 3415th Technical Training Wing and attended training programs in nuclear weapons. He became a Nuclear Weapons Control Officer. At the time most of what he did was classified and not known by others. I do not know whether my dad requested to attend these special training programs or was assigned by the Air Force. As an interesting side note in some material while doing research I read, it stated participants in the nuclear programs had to pass rigorous clearance and background checks to include psychological, sociological and even extended family checks and reviews.
From Aurora, Colorado the family moved to Riverside, California actually, the city was Perris, California and they lived at March Air Force Base on the Air Force Base in a housing area called Arnold Heights. They attended a small LDS branch in Perris, California. March Air Force base was a beehive of activity during the 1950’s and the Cold War. The March Air Force base was quite large and there was a steady stream of B-52’s, B-47’s and KC-97's tankers landing and taking off day and night. Robert worked in an air Force detachment that maintained the nuclear weapons in a special compound on the base but a little distance away from the main base activities. He also flew the KC 97 airplane to maintain his pilot rating and flight pay. Frequently, a siren would go off in the housing district which was the way they alerted the airmen to get to their various posts and a few minutes later, airplanes would be taking off every two or three minutes – sometimes up to 20-25 airplanes in a matter of an hour or two. During the course of the two years that the family lived at March Air Force Base, there were three or four different airplane crashes that occurred at March Air Force Base none involving Robert. On one occasion an airplane crashed not too far from the housing area where we lived. I was outside riding my bicycle with some friends and we started to ride over closer to the crash site. My father came outside and told us not to go over to the crash site because the airplane might be carrying atomic bombs.
I remember that our dad bought a motorcycle. I recall that he was trying to start it by pulling it with the car and in the process broke his leg. That must of been the end of the motorcycle because I never saw it around after that incident. We lived in Riverside from 1956 to 1958. When we left Riverside, California, Robert's next assignment was at Royal Air Force Base Marham in England. The family traveled across the country in a white Ford station wagon to New York. In New York, the family boarded a ship called the USN Upshur which we kids nicknamed the upchuck boat because lots of people got seasick. They traveled on this naval transport about 6-8 days and since Robert was an officer, the family was able to eat in the Officer’s Dining Room and stay in nice rooms on the ship. The ship was headed to England where Robert was assigned for three years. The rest of the troops that were on the ship were on their way to a conflict in Lebanon. The family lived at Royal Air Force Marham in England for three years from 1958-1961. RAF Marham was a major strategic Air Force base for the British Air Force- and still is today.
By this time, Robert was a senior Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had responsibility for a small detachment of U.S. Air Force personnel that monitored, stored and controlled various nuclear weapons. These nuclear weapons would be loaded onto the various English airplanes, flown around and when they landed the weapons would be taken off and stored and placed back under the control of the U.S. Air Force Detachment. The name of the unit was called Detachment Three, 99th Aviation Depot according to Air Force records. The 99th Aviation Depot was responsible for controlling and maintaining nuclear weapons in England. Martin was born 3 October 1959 at Walsingham Norfolk England. He was born at the Lakenheath U.S. Air Force Base in England. The second summer that we lived in England I can remember that the family took the white (actually a very light blue according to Anne) Ford 1956 Station Wagon on the Ferry to Holland the summer of 1960 and we traveled around on the Continent for about two plus weeks. Besides France, the family went through Germany, Holland, Austria and a little bit of Switzerland. the family took tents and sleeping bags and camped out along the way.
There was no ward or branch of the Church close by to attend at R.A.F. Marham, so once or twice a month, the family attended a small branch at Cambridge, about a two hour ride from R.A.F. Marham. Also there were many Sundays that Robert was on call and duty at the Air Force base. In a letter dated 17 April 1960 Robert wrote to his parents and reported that he and Leda attended the Serviceman's Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. In attendance were 742 persons including the European Mission Presidents, the Swiss Temple President, and Alvin R. Dyer Assistant to the Twelve apostles, who was the European Mission President. Leda traveled by ferry and a 14 hour train ride while Robert flew by US Air Force military Transport airplane from Frankfurt. Robert also mentioned in his letter that he and Leda "saw lots of old friends from California, new Mexico, Etc." The letter was sent from The General Von Steuben Hotel, Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe 18 April 1960 where they stayed.
Military records indicated Robert was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal in January 1960 for "Meritorious achievement as Operations Officer of Detachment Three, 99th Aviation Depot Squadron from 22 July 1958 to 1 August 1959." Sometime during the later part of 1961 or first part of 1962 Robert was promoted to Major.
On 27 June of 1961, the family left England on a Super Constellation Lockheed passenger Airplane run by Flying Tiger Airlines bound for McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and on by the new van to McConnell Air Force Base located at Wichita, Kansas. Robert was assigned to work with the ICBM Titan Two missiles that were newly positioned around Kansas in silos. The country was in the middle of the cold war and the arms race with the Soviet Union. Robert sold the Ford station wagon and left it in England. The family arrived at McGuire Air Force Base after flying for eighteen hours with a quick stop in Newfoundland. Little did the family know at the time that this was the same type of airplane (but modified) that Robert would crash and die in five years later. Robert picked up a new van big enough to carry all of the family and drove from McGuire Air Force Base to Payson, Utah to visit his parents then to Wichita, Kansas. Robert Jr. and Joe stayed in Payson and worked on Grandfather Baird's farm until the end of the summer. Bryant, the number eight and last child was born on 13 June 1962 at Wichita, Kansas. Robert Jr. drove his mother to the hospital as Robert Sr. was on assignment somewhere with the Air Force.
At McConnell Air Force Base Robert was assigned to the 381st Strategic Missile Wing and became a missileman or more commonly called Missileers. He worked directly with the Titan Two ICBM Missiles. There were eighteen ICBM missiles located around McConnell Air Force Base scattered around the center part of Kansas. At the time most citizens of Kansas would have been shocked if they knew they were at the center point of the cold war with eighteen ICBM missiles with nuclear bombs located around the state of Kansas. This information at the time was classified. On top of the missiles was a Thermonuclear warhead. The eighteen Titan Two launch complexes and silos were highly security conscious and dangerous with the volatile
fuel needed to power the rockets. Each missile site had a detachment of security guards to protect the site. The Titan II was the largest Intercontinental ballistic missile in USAF inventory and remained on alert status from the 1962-1987 time period. During that time several men lost
their lives due to malfunctions, fuel spills/fires and silo explosions. Thankfully Robert never had a mishap during his tour of duty with the missiles. Atop the missile sat the massive Mark 6 nuclear warhead. The TITAN II measured 110 feet in length and 10 feet in diameter, utilized in excess of 200,000 lbs of two part hypergolic propellant and produced 530,000 lbs of thrust. The Titan II had a target range of 5,500 miles. As mentioned one of the more dangerous maintenance operations involved the missile fuel (unsymmetrical dim ethyl hydrazine) and missile oxidizer (nitrogen tetroxide, N204). The missile fuel and oxidizer were hypergolic in nature ( ignite on contact with each other). Maintenance personnel who worked the fuel transfer process wore special rocket fuel suits to avoid exposure to the toxic missile fuel and oxidizer. Robert served in the 381st Strategic Missile Wing from 1961 to 1964 at McConnell Air Force Base. While living in Wichita Robert served on the high council with President Lee Meador as Stake President. President Meador ordained Robert a High Priest on 26 May 1963.
In 1964 Robert was transferred to Westover Air Force Base located in Springfield, Massachusetts where he worked for the 8th Air Force Inspection Team. During his assignment with the 8th Air Force inspection he traveled extensively. A little later he was transferred to Otis Air Force Base located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In October 1965, Robert in a letter to his parents reports about a district conference held in Providence, Rhode Island. Elder Boyd K. Packer was the Mission President and he called Robert and set him apart to be the new Cape Cod Branch President. Elder Packer told Robert it was no accident that he was given his present military assignment at the Cape--that he was sent there to be called as branch president for the specific purpose of building a new chapel. Just prior to the conference, Joseph Alan was called to the California Mission in the first part of October 1964. Joe took the plane to Salt Lake City and the Missionary Training Center to start his mission. Elder Packer was on that same plane, traveling to the October Semi-Annual conference of the LDS Church. Elder Packer told Joe that his father was going to be called as the President of the Cape Cod Branch, so Joe knew before his father was officially sustained as branch president in the branch. 10 Robert was called to be
10. Page 45, From a hand written history written by Hazel Baird in possession of Robert A
the Branch President of the Cape Cod Branch with Loren DeMond as the First counselor and Floyd Richie as the Second Counselor. The Cape Cod Branch was in the Boston Stake with President Wilber W. Cox as Stake President. Sara Baird, Robert's Granddaughter and daughter
of Joe and Susan relates the following as told by Larry Hill a member of the Cape Cod Branch:
"Larry related that when Branch President Baird and his Presidency were looking for approval for the land to build the Cape Cod chapel. they chose a beautiful strawberry field. Boyd K. Packer who was the President of the Boston Mission at the time as well as a General Authority was asked to see the land to give final approval. As the men were talking in the car Robert
realized that he had driven past the chosen area. He turned around and return to the field. President Packer said that as they passed the field, he had a feeling that the strawberry patch was the right place build. Because of this special inspiration every.
one knew that was the place Heavenly Father wanted the first ward building on Cape Cod to be build. Larry also told the family that during the construction some of the members complained that a small number of them were doing much more to help in the building of the new chapel than the rest of the branch. Branch President Baird said, "If some members are only able to contribute a small portion of their time and means then that is enough. We are to be thankful for the help they are able to give."11
On 11 November 1966 aircraft number 262 a Lockheed Super Constellation EC-121H
11. Taken from a document titled; "Remembrances of Major Robert A Baird" Written by Sara Baird, Granddaughter of Robert A. Baird
took off from Otis Air Force Base at 12:35 a.m. The EC-121H was powered by four 18 cylinder turbo compound engines and carried 40,000 pounds of high test fuel. The mammoth radar plane
was crammed with five million (in 1966 dollars) dollars worth of supersensitive equipment for its role in the nation's air defense network. The mission was to fly air defense in the North Atlantic. The plane after takeoff proceeded to the Georges Bank to commence it's patrol with a
crew of 19 with Robert as the flight commander and chief pilot. The call sign for the aircraft was
"Homey 64". The mission of the airplanes flying air defense was to feed back data to the
ground stations concerning foreign jet fighters, missiles or any other unfriendly aircraft off the coast of the United States. Radio contact with the plane at 1:22 a.m. was normal with the plane at 15,000 feet 125 miles off the coast of Nantucket Island. The radio message "all normal.....no problems." For some reason still unknown, a malfunction occurred or other problems occurred and the plane crashed into the ocean at around 1:30 a.m. At about the same time a fishing boat from New Bedford, Massachusetts reported seeing an aircraft ditch into the ocean and it exploded as it entered the water. Two other fishing boats were close by and there were a few Russian Trawler fishing boats (actually spy boats) in the area according to the accident report.12 Robert's short life ended in the tragic airplane crash doing what he loved to do---fly air planes. On board the airplane with Robert were the following 18 crew members:
1Lt Larry Rucker, 25, Pilot
1Lt. Richard Hoppe, 26 , Navigator
1Lt. Edward Taylor, 25, Navigator
MSgt John Nerolich, 45, Flight Engineer
MSgt Armand DiBonaventura, 45, Flight Engineer
SSgt Robert Simmons, 36, Radio Operator
TSgt Arthur Lambert, 34, Radar Supervisor
SSgt Lawrence MCNeill, 31, Radar Operator
A2C Robert Kay, 21, Radar Operator
A2C Larry Stoner, 20, Radar Operator
SSgt James Pater, 37, Radar Operator
MSgt Clarence Hendrickson, 39, Radar Operator
SSgt Robert Sparks, 34, Radar Technician
A1C James Rogers, 24, Radar Technician
A2C David Bailey, 20, Navigation Maintenance Technician
A1C Joseph Adamick, 26, Automatic Data Processor Technician
MSgt Robert Thibodeau, 41, Radio Operator
A2C James Wilbur, 21, Automatic Data Processor Technician
The plane was on patrol over the Atlantic as part of the nation's 24 hour a day intelligence and radar defense system. "As the shadows of the Cold War began to lengthen,
12. USAF Accident/ Incident Report, dated 2 December 1966 in possession of Robert A Baird Jr.
with each side pitted against the other in realms that extended from one hundred fathoms under the sea to one hundred miles in space. The need to collect intelligence with aircraft flying manned reconnaissance missions grew urgent. But it was dangerous as it was imperative. Fighter and bomber crews practiced constantly but flew no combat missions. They were in the cold war. But Air Force and Navy reconnaissance crews routinely flew into the teeth of the enemy on operational combat missions. For them, the cold war was hot." 13 These men were those that served as Silent Warriors during the cold war. Preceding Robert's plane crash by one year, in July 1965, the first EC 121 radar plane crashed in the same general area with 19 men aboard and three survived. Six months later after Robert's plane when down, a third EC 121 airplane commanded by Col James Lyle crashed and sixteen aboard were killed and one survived. Col James Lyle was commander of the 551st Early Warning and Control Wing that Robert belonged too. From July 1965 to July 1967 over a 21 month time period three aircraft crashed in the same general area with a total of 50 airmen lost. Many ask the question, was it worth the cost?
"In a turbulent, 21 month period at the height of the cold War, the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing, Otis AFB, Mass lost three giant EC-121 aircraft in catastrophic overwater accidents. Fifty of the total 54 crew members died. In the first accident, on July 11, 1965, an EC-121 ditched in the Atlantic about 125 miles off Nantucket; three crew members survived, but 16 perished. In the second accident, on Nov 11, 1966, an EC-121 cartwheeled into the sea for no apparent reason, without a word of emergency communication from the crew. The third accident-was particularly devastating, because the lead pilot was the wing's commander, Col James Perkins Lyle. Five months earlier, Lyle had presided at a memorial for victims of the second accident. the crashes are little-remembered today. They involved now-retired aircraft, flown by a since-disbanded wing, fulfilling a mission made obsolete a generation ago. At the time, however, they were shocking to New England and the Air Force, particularly in light of the fact that the 551st had flown thousands of sorties for a decade without a single loss of life. Today the crashes are reminders of the sacrifices by military members during the last era of concerted perimeter defense of the US homeland. the Cold War was not casualty-free. From the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line above the Arctic Circle, to the Texas Tower radar platforms at sea, and
13. Quote from the book By Any Means Necessary by William E. Burrows.
the EC-121 Warning Stars off the US Coasts, thousands of personnel served , and some died, on freedom's frontier. Was the mission worth it? Asks a radar crew chief for the 551st at the fall of the Berlin Wall, that will tell you it was worth it. That's why we were out there in the long run."14
After the accident, Leda and family moved to Orem, Utah. Floyd Richie Robert's second counselor in the Cape Cod Branch Presidency and Captain in the Air Force was assigned as the family's escort officer and assisted in moving the family to Utah. Robert Jr. and Ann returned to attend BYU and Joe continued and completed his mission in California. The other children started school in Orem, Utah in their respective grades. Leda lived the rest of her life in Orem Utah. She served as a PTA President, Young Women's President and served a 18 month mission in the Houston, Texas Mission. In her later years the love of her life was her dog named Freddie. she passed away on 1 Sept 2002. She was buried in the Orem, Utah cemetery next to Robert's memorial marker.
In August 2005 the new Newport Beach LDS Temple was dedicated and opened. Shortly
thereafter the temple was opened for members of the church. In September of 2005 Robert Jr.
and his wife Maureen were attending an endowment session in the newly opened Newport
Beach Temple. It was their first session in the newly constructed temple. While sitting in the
Celestial room after completing the endowment session Robert Jr. had the distinct impression
that the temple work should be completed for his father's flight crew. So he got busy and did
the research on the eighteen members of the flight crew. The research was completed and the
crew members were baptized, confirmed and initiatory work completed by proxy on 6 July
2006 in the Newport Beach LDS Temple. At the Robert & Leda Baird reunion in 11 August
2006 held in the American Fork and Provo area, most of the endowments were completed in a session conducted at the Provo Temple. Many family members including Robert's brother
Fred and others participated in completing the temple work for the eighteen crew members.
While Maureen and Robert Jr. were driving to Utah in March 2009 the thought and idea came to stop and visit with Floyd Richie long time family friend, second counselor to Robert
14. Grier, Peter. "The Fall of The Warning Stars." Air Force Journal of the Air Force
Association. April 2005 Vol. 88, No. 4.
Senior in the Cape Cod Branch in 1966 and family escort officer. Strange, because I had not made any contact with Floyd in 20+ years or more and had no reason to stop and see him. So it was a little strange that the idea came to me. I did not know his address or phone number but I did a quick search on the internet after arriving in Provo and found his phone number and address in Orem, Utah. I stopped one evening and spent a couple of hours talking to Floyd. He told me the following story while we talked: He mentioned that only two weeks earlier he was doing a High Priest Group assignment taking the sacrament to people in the hospital. He went into a room. After a few minutes he discovered the patient was Fred Baird. They had some discussion and it was finally determined that Fred was Robert's brother and Floyd was the escort officer. Both were surprised about meeting each other. I mentioned to Floyd during our talk that we had completed the temple work on my dad's flight crew three years earlier. He sat and thought about it for a few minutes and then in our discussion it was suggested that the other two aircrews of the airplanes that crashed in 1965 and 1967 in my father's Air Force Squadron have their temple work also completed. The next day I made an unannounced visit to Fred and he also told the same story. I indicated to Fred that we were going to get the temple work started on the other two crews. A real surprise and interesting convergence of events. When I got home from the trip I did some research and identified the other two airplane flight crew members completed the paperwork and started the temple ordinances in July 2009. I also contacted A. J. Northrup to get more information about the members of the two aircrews. While doing the research I found that one airman already had his temple work completed and interestingly enough, Colonel Lyle's parents' temple work was completed and they were already sealed. In the middle of the night in October 2009 I woke up and asked myself, "What about Colonel Lyle's wife." I went down stairs opened the book Fifty Fallen Stars, 15 turned to page 308 and found the information about Col. Lyle's wife - Juanita Musgrave. She had passed away so her temple work could also be completed. It was also completed and then Colonel Lyle and Juanita
Musgrave were sealed. Floyd Richie also help to complete the temple work on the air crews along with other family members. In total there were 50 crew members including Robert that died during the 18 month time frame in the 1960's.
Another interesting experience: In the fall of 2008 Maureen and I were teachers in the BYU China Teachers Program. We were assigned to Guangzhou, China fall semester of 2008.
15. Northrup, A. J., Fifty Fallen Stars, 1998.
Also serving at the same time in the same city and the same school were a couple, Dr. Mont and Mrs. Mary DeMond. Mont's brother is Loren DeMond, who was first counselor to Robert in the Cape Cope Branch in 1965-1966. Maureen and I had the opportunity to work in China 63 years after Robert served in China. I also worked for the Boeing company that build most of the airplanes that Robert Senior flew except for the Lockheed EC-121.
Legacy lives on
Robert and Leda spent most of their lives while together living where the LDS Church
was still in its infancy and growing. They seldom lived where there were even church buildings mostly attending church in rented halls. They helped with money making projects for chapels
almost everywhere they lived. Both Robert and Leda served in various leadership roles as a counselor or Branch President. Robert made a significant contribution in his work as a career Air Force Officer in defense of the United States. In a phone call one evening to Robert's brother Fred, Fred reminded me that Robert also was very interested in family history and was able to provide much valuable information about the Baird family genealogy during his travels around the planet. After the memorial service Leda and family returned to Utah and bought a home at 233 North 550 East in Orem. Robert Jr. and Ann continued to attend BYU and Joe had about one more year on his LDS mission in California. Leda served as MIA president for four years and two different times as PTA President. Blaine served a mission in South Africa and Martin served a mission in Austria. Later Leda served a LDS mission in the Houston, Texas mission in 1988-89 and Bryant started his mission in the Hawaiian Islands during the same time. Leda and family moved to Orem Utah where she remained the rest of her life, passing away on 1 September 2002. With eight children, 19 grand children, and 23 great grand children [as of May 2010] the aviator Robert, and Leda Baird, the family legacy continues to live on meaning this history is not yet complete.
Karen, Leda, Joe, Blaine, Ann, Randy, Bob, Randy, & Bryant
Recorded in Book 2 No. 160 Payson, UT August 3 1941
A Blessing given by Leonard A. Hill, Patriarch, upon the head of Robert Abner Baird, son of Abner Harley Baird and Hazel Twede, Born 27 February 1922, Provo, Utah County, Utah.
Brother Robert Baird, in the authority of the Holy Priesthood, I place my hands upon thy head and give unto thee a Patriarchal Blessing. I pray earnestly that the words which I speak may be dictated by the Holy Spirit.
I say unto thee, dear brother, that thou art one of the chosen sons of God. Thou art one who stood amidst the Host of Heaven when Abraham saw the intelligences that had been created before the world was and thou was among that number which the Lord designated as those whom he would make and recognize as his leaders.
The Lord did keep thee in the Spirit World to receive there everything that was for thy benefit before coming to earth and in this thou hast been given the privilege and blessing of going through the experiences of mortality when the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only true plan of life and salvation, has been restored to the earth for the last time, pertaining to this earth and its inhabitants.
The Lord so ruled that thou should be born of faithful and God-fearing parents who are giving thee every opportunity within their power for thy blessing and advancement. Now, brother, it behooves thee to be appreciative of all thy blessings and gifts that have come unto thee in thy life; and to make thyself, through thy daily endeavors, worthy of all which the Lord has to bless thee with; both here and through eternity.
To thy possibilities there is no end, and every blessing and accomplishment which the Lord has to give to his faithful children is within thy reach. I would have thee to know also that there is a power upon this earth that is seeking continuously to destroy the works of God and to entice and bring down to his level the souls of the very faithful of God. Therefore pray that thou mayst have the gift of discernment to know the various influences which thou mayst come in contact with and through thy righteousness exercise wisdom to choose the right course of life under all circumstances and if thou art strong and unyielding the evil one will cease to tempt thee.
Dear brother, the Lord has a great work and mission for thee on earth. Thou shalt be called unto many responsible positions of trust and honor, both within the Church and without. Thou shalt sit in council with those who have been chosen to direct the various lines of activity governing the Church of Christ and its members. Thou shalt have the privilege of lifting up thy voice in defense of truth and in teaching the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and shall have power through the Spirit that shall be with thee to convince many souls that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith was the true prophet of the Lord to this generation and this dispensation. Thou shalt also have the opportunity, time and means to do great work for the salvation of the dead. The power of the Priesthood shall rest upon thee in great magnitude, even to enable thee to speak with authority, and if necessary to command and rebuke when moved upon by the Holy Spirit.
Thou shalt stand at the head of thine own household and shall rule thy children in righteousness, and thy posterity shall grow to be a numerous host among whom shall be those who will be valiant and faithful and rejoice in following thy righteous footsteps.
Now, brother, thou host a glorious future before thee, exercise thy free agency to attain to the blessings which the Lord intends that thou shalt enjoy.
Thou art entitled to all herein written for thou art one unto whom the blessings that were given to Abraham and his seed were to enjoy, for thou art truly of that royal lineage for the blood of Joseph courses through thy veins and thou art numbered with the royal branch and title of Ephraim. The mission of thy life on earth shall be fully accomplished and the Lord will accept of thy life's work and thou shalt be satisfied in thy soul. I seal all this upon thee according as thou art faithful throughout thy life of mortality.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
MY BAIRD FAMILY By Frederick Twede Baird
Contributor: dmullinnix Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
MY BAIRD FAMILY By Frederick Twede Baird
SUMMARY, MY PROVEN BAIRD DIRECT LINE
Abner Harley Baird 1897-1989 (KWCW-R4H), James Hyrum Baird 1848-1910 (KWCH-1P4),
Samuel Baird 1801-1859 (LQ5N-LNV), Alexander Baird 1750-1831 (L6VF-15Q),
William Baird 1699-1762 (L7B5-NBK), William Baird 1675-1734 (L6J7-N6G)
This is a story that needs telling and reading because of the many MYTHS and MISTAKES that have been perpetuated and copied and believed for so many years about Alexander Baird. The confusion started when Andrew Jackson Baird (KF2Y-SR3) son of Samuel and Matilda Baird sent a letter from his home in Salina, Kansas to his niece Minnie Baird Walker in Utah dated 1916 where in he stated that John Baird emigrated from Scotland 1683 at the age of 18. He died in April 1755, age about 90. He married Mary Hall in 1684 and it is supposed that some of the children were David, Andrew, and LeZebulon Baird of the Tennet Church; the preacher was Frank Symmes, 15th pastor, Cransbury, New Jersey.
This was from a letter written by Bedent E. Baird (LX92-RCL), Watauga, North Carolina dated 28 January 1858. Bedent penned the letter in his 88th year, mentioning he was related to Old John Baird, and the letter was read and copied by numerous Bairds in Watauga County, North Carolina. Bedent had a son Franklin Baird (LX92-TMT) born 21 April 1802, in Valle Crucis, Watauga, North Carolina. Franklin and his wife Catherine Moody had a son Andrew Jackson Baird (2MGY-GJX) born about 1829 in Valle Crucis, Watauga, North Carolina. AJ and his wife Temperance Shull had a son Phillip Franklin Baird (LHXZ-J37) born about 1864 in Valle Crucis, Watauga, North Carolina; who moved to Salina, Kansas and gave a copy of the letter to Andrew Jackson Baird (son of Samuel and Matilda Baird) who was also living in Salina, Kansas. Andrew Jackson Baird believing that he and Phillip Franklin Baird were blood cousins descended from Old John Baird of Monmouth, New Jersey; sent the information on to Minnie Baird Walker in Utah at Minnie's request.
So from this Letter sent by Andrew to Minnie; ever since 1916, the descendants of Samuel and Matilda Baird believed they were blood cousins of Old John Baird (LZC5-1QD) from Scotland and who lived in Monmouth, New Jersey. They also believed we were directly related to an Alexander Baird born in 1775 and his wife Mary. However, after much research and later with DNA testing this was proven false.
In 2003 our Baird Family Genealogical Association decided to be the very first Baird Family to start DNA Testing and decided to use the best available; using Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas to do the testing. Of course we decided to start first with the old John Baird family line from Topenemous, Mommouth, New Jersey and that proved false. We had to know for sure. We then tested a number of other Bairds who we thought might be related, but to our dismay none proved an exact match except for my cousin James R. Baird from Mapleton, Utah and myself.
Finally I found an old website which I sent to my old friend Bruce Baird in Louisiana (not related), but heaven sent, who discovered many similarities with our long sought Alexander Baird and also lots of familiar and interesting family names.
One in particular was named Thomas Watt Beard (KCQL-ZL2), a son of Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q) living in Franklin County, Tennessee. Thomas was born about 1795 according to the South Carolina census and living in Abbeville, South Carolina with his father Alexander Baird. Both Alexander Baird and Thomas Watt Beard along with sisters Ibby (Isabella) (LC35-Y7V) and Rachel (K29F-ZZW) had all moved from Franklin County, Tennessee to Marion County, Alabama. Indeed this "old web site" proved very productive and was administered by Ernest E. Hunt IV, who had also hit his “brick wall". With his cooperation several generations of his family and those of Thomas Watt Beard who had married Isabelle Lucy Ward (part of the family of Ernest E. Hunt IV) were detailed. Lucy also had family living in Franklin County, Tennessee, and who had also moved to Marion County, Alabama about the same time as the Baird family. Now all we needed to do to prove that this was indeed our long sought after Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q) was to have one or two male Bairds from this new detailed family get DNA tested. This we did by testing James Blanton Beard (Baird) and Scott Beard (Baird) they tested exactly the same with each other and with my cousin, James R. Baird of Mapleton, Utah and myself. HOORAY WE WERE HAPPY AND VERY BLESSED.
It was 9 May 2005 when we found the DNA confirmation. But that wasn't all. We also had a paper trail confirming this wonderful news. It was three pension applications by Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q) giving us his date of birth, place of residence, his wife’s name, daughters etc. His wife’s name was Sarah Green (KWVH-RC9) not Mary. Another myth was blown away; Alexander's place of enlistment was Cumberland County, Pennsylvania so we now had a new place to check records. We soon found that William Baird (L7B5-NBK) and Rachel Glenn (L7TB-VD3) were the parents of the Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q) who we had been trying to find and prove for about 150 years since his son Samuel Baird (LQ5N-LNV) was born 22 September 1801. Alexander told us that he was born December 1750 and not 1775, as many believed which had fostered another myth. It’s also a blessing to have a direct ancestor of ours who served in the Revolutionary war. William Baird (L7B5-NBK), the father, died (1762) soon after leaving his home in Upper Leacock Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1761, where he and his family had lived for 25 years and where his son Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q) lived, before moving with his family to East Pennsborough Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
Our Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q) and his wife Sarah Green were the parents of; Alexander, William, Isabelle, Thomas Watt Beard, John, Mary Polly, Samuel, and Rachel. Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q) was born December 1750 in Upper Leacock, Lancaster, Pennsylvania and died about 1831 in Pikeville, Marion, Alabama.
By the end of 1786, the first two generations of Donegal County, Ireland Bairds that came to America, settling in Pennsylvania around 1730, were all gone and dead except their children who were scattering throughout the southern states. These first generations were William Baird 1675-1734 (L6J7-N6G) and his son William Baird 1699-1762 (L7B5-NBK). William Baird ‘s (L7B5-NBK) sons were Thomas Baird (L41F-PDS), William Baird (9XBH-R8L), and Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q)
So, who were these early Donegal County, Ireland Bairds? And why did they come here to America in the first place? They were Scottish dissenting Presbyterians, Seceders, and Covenanters who had left and broken away from the Church and the King of England. They held to the Old Licht, not the New Licht. They believed that Jesus Christ was their king, not the King of England. They left Scotland for Ireland and land. The king retaliated by putting forth severe restrictions against this group of dissenters now living in Ireland. The droughts and increased land rents in Ireland were so high that these hardy Scots-Irish were forced to leave their Ireland and seek new opportunities in America where FREEDOM reigned.
One objective for writing this story is to remove the myths and misconceptions that have hindered the work and to show to all concerned, the great legacy of our Baird Family. Still there has been some misunderstanding on who Alexander Baird born 1775 and his wife Mary really were. He is not the father of our Samuel Baird (LQ5N-LNV) who was born 22 September 1801. This incorrect Alexander and his spouse have been incorrectly identified many times. Their children are Sarah, Thomas, Margaret, William, Candace, Mary, Elizabeth, and John Gabriel Baird. This incorrect Alexander (LZLB-H8V) was born 1775 in East Pennsborough, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania to parents Thomas Baird (L41F-PDS) and Jennet Barr (Jean) (KP4M-X4Q) and died 1832 in Alabama. Thomas Baird (L41F-PDS) sold his property in East Pennsborough, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and moved to Washington County, North Carolina for three years with his younger brother our Alexander Baird (L6VF-15Q), then onto Abbeville, South Carolina where Thomas died 3 May 1797. Thomas's wife, Jean, and family then moved on to Jefferson County, Georgia about 1800. The three older children, William, Alexander, and Elizabeth were born in East Pennsborough Twp.; Jean in North Carolina; and the two younger ones George and Thomas in Abbeville, South Carolina.
With so many Alexander's, William's and Thomas's it is easy to see how they all got mixed up. Hope this further bit of information clarifies another mistake and myth. The incorrect Alexander Baird’s (LZLB-H8V) brother William Baird (21BX-SXC), both sons of Thomas Baird (L41F-PDS) as noted above purchased property in Perry County, Alabama. This is where our Samuel Baird (LQ5N-LNV) found his cousin William Baird (21BX-SXC), and Samuel moved there as well. William later moved on to Noxubee County, Mississippi. William was born 3 September 1770 in East Pennsborough Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and died 14 February 1837 in Noxubee County, Mississippi.
Samuel Baird (LQ5N-LNV) joined the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Perry County, Alabama and then moved to Quincy, Adams County, Illinois.
Written by Frederick T. Baird 27 August 2014
Edited by Joe Baird. For full story, sources, and research contact Frederick T. Baird or Jackie Standing.
A Personal History Interview: Abner Harley Baird Third Dictation 1984 (Part)
Contributor: dmullinnix Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
A Personal History Interview
Abner Harley Baird
May 10, 1984
Editor’s Note: The following is a typed manuscript of a tape-recorded interview of Abner Baird and his wife, Hazel, by Mark Baird McOmber, their grandson.
Hazel: After completing the first year of high school in Payson, my father and mother told me that the next fall I could to to Provo and start school at the Brigham Young University High School. That was a great day for me. I had been to Provo only once before in my life with my grandfather Allan. No longer would I have to ride in the school wagon.
We went to Provo in a wagon. I had my trunk packed with my things because I wouldn’t be able to come home very often. One of my friends, Beatrice Thatcher, went with me. She was going to enter college and get her teaching certificate. We wanted to find a place where we could do our own housekeeping, so we inquired of my cousin, Eliza Hart Crandall, who lived in Provo, where we could find such a place. She told us of a widow lady by the name of Margaret Ellen Randall Baird, living at 980 North 100 East, who took in boarders and had some rooms to rent. She did have two rooms for us so we unloaded our things and that was our home. The street is now 2nd East Street.
Sister Baird, as we called her, had two daughters about my age, Chestina and Ruby. The four of us became very good friends. Little did I dream that someday they would be my sisters-in-law! And Sister Baird my mother-in-law! They told us about their family--a brother Orrin was teaching school in Arizona, a brother Edwin was still going to college, and another brother, Abner, was working in Idaho but would go home later and go to school. The girls told me a great deal about this brother and showed me his butterfly collection, and really had me quite curious to meet him.
We were living in the two northeast rooms and one day, as I looked out, I saw a strange young man with real curly hair, coming from the back where there was some chicken coops and entering the Baird’s back door. I was sure he must be the long expected brother of Christy’s and Ruby’s.
We met and became good friends. He really impressed me--he had a great knowledge of so many things. He knew the names of all the birds and had collections of butterflies not only from the United States but also from South America. He knew the names of the stars and the planets and was so cheerful and fun to be with.
World War I was now raging. The United States had joined the Allies and Edwin was in France. In August of 1918, Abner went to the Presidio in San Francisco to officers’ training school. Seven of the Baird brothers were now serving their country. All of the young men who had gone to the presidio returned in the fall and were stationed in the Maeser Memorial Building on the Y campus. The influenza was really bad at that time and all the soldiers became very ill. Everyone was really fearful of this disease as robust men and women lost their lives and here, in Payson, the cemetery filled up really fast. No public meetings were allowed.
The schools opened that fall, 1918, and we were all required to wear masks. Finally, the schools had to close, including the Y. So I came home and helped my father with the beets, as we had quite a few acres that needed to be topped and hauled to the factory.
When the boys recovered from the influenza, they were shipped to Waco, Texas. Just before Abner left, he came over to tell me goodbye. It was rather a tearful parting for me as I didn’t know when I would see him again. But he assured me that he would be back. Each day I would eagerly wait for the mailman to come to see if I had a letter and the letters received were very precious.
On November 11, 1918, I was out topping beats in the field when the sugar factory whistle began to blow. What did it mean? The armistice had been signed and World War I had ended. Happy day! We shouted and threw our hats and beet knives in the air. The streets in nearly every town were roped off and dances were held on the streets. It was a time of rejoicing for now the boys would be coming home again. Of course, it took quite a while for all of them to get discharged.
The Y opened up again in January, 1919, so I went back to school. I graduated from Brigham Young High School in May, 1919. In the fall or winter of that year, my father, mother and I went to California. The war was over and father wanted to go there for some time. We went down on the train. Father bought a little Ford car so we could tour around the country.
I had registered as a freshman at the Y, so finished that year and then prepared for marriage, as Abner and I were now engaged. The inter-urban electric cars were now running between Salt Lake and Payson, and Abner would often ride the inter-urban car to Pason, then walk down to our place. About 11:00, the last car would leave to go back, so he would leave our home around 10:30 p.m. to go back to Provo. Often I would walk with him as far as the slough. Then I would run home and he would run on to town. I now drew my savings out of the bank and bought the material for my wedding dress. Mother helped me make it and I got my trousseau ready.
Very early, the morning of the 11th of May, 1921, mother, father, and I piled into our old Dodge car, traveled to Provo, and picked up Abner and his mother and went on to the Salt Lake Temple. We were in the temple most of the day; it was the middle of the afternoon before we were taken to the sealing room where we were sealed by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith. Wilford & Gertrude lived in West Salt Lake at that time, and we stayed there our first night. We came down to Payson the next day, where we had our reception in the Payson second ward amusement hall. (That is what it was called then.) It was customary to have a dance so father hired an orchestra and we danced the night away.
Shortly after our marriage, we left for Upalco/Duchesne Country, where Abner had an apiary of bees. We lived in little two-room log house with a dirt roof. There was no ceiling in it but we took yards of unbleached muslin and tacked this over the rafters and made us a ceiling. The walls were bare, so we papered the walls and made curtains for the windows. We were so happy. We didn’t have a dime, but we got along. However, there was one thing that gave me much grief--there were bedbugs in the house. And they bit me! I could hardly stand it. And to see them crawling around and hiding in my new quilts was sickening. I had helped raise some sheep that were sheared. Mother and I washed the wool and then mother carded the wool into bats and these bats were used to make five new quilts. We used kerosene in our lamps so I got a can of kerosene and a large feather, which I would dip into the kerosene and go after the bedbugs. Abner and an older sister, Maggie, or Margaret, and an older brother, Walter living out there and they were very good to us. Maggie and George gave us a pony we could ride and we would ride double down by the Duchesne River and through the fields of clover. Our drinking water came from a canal and Abner got sick. We thought it was typhoid fever, so mother, father, and Abner’s mother came out to see what they could do. I didn’t get the fever, for we now boiled our drinking water.
Abner: In October of 1921, we moved back to Provo. We borrowed a team of horses and wagon from Maggie and George, put all our possessions in it and started out. It took us three days to make the trip. There was a steep dugway coming up out of Deer Creek and the horses were tired and wouldn’t pull the wagon to the top. So we unhooked them, gave them a drink and something to eat, and as it was night, we made our bed on the ground and tried to sleep. The next morning we started out again by going a short distance, and the blocking the wheels, letting the horses rest, we made it the top.
Maggie and her husband, George, lived about a mile from the place we were living in Upalco. I rented a farm there and raised some alfalfa seed and took care of the bees. When fall came, I took my alfalfa down to Roosevelt and sold it. We took what honey we had in the wagon with the rest of our supplies and came back to Provo. We had trouble coming down Provo canyon, through Heber. One of the tires came loose and we had to get barbed wire and wrap it around the wheels to keep them together until we got to Provo. We went there to mother’s place--got there about the middle of the night on a Sunday.
Hazel: Later we rented the house at 384 East 600 North and we lived there that winter. I just worked around wherever I could get a job. There were still apples and fruit to pick and quite a bit of fall work around. It was here that our first son, Robert Abner, was born on the 27th of February, 1922. His eyes were large and dark brown, almost black. When Orrin, Abner’s older brother, looked at them, he said, “His eyes will be blue in a month. No Baird’s have dark eyes.” I didn’t think so as I remember my grandfather Twede--he had black eyes which is unusual for Danish people. His mother, Marionette Hall, must have had dark eyes. In fact, a researcher on the Twede line, Eva Gregersen, said she felt that somewhere in the line there was Jewish blood. My father had blue eyes. These dark eyes had been in Robert’s, Rachel’s, Ruth’s, and Alan’s family. So it looks like this is a dominant characteristic. Anyway, Robert’s eyes never changed color.
During the early part of November, 1922, we moved to Colton, California, where Abner worked for Mr. N.E. Miller. Mr. Miller had a number of apiaries of bees down Riverside and San Bernardino. We rented a house and I cooked for two of Mr. Miller’s helpers. One fellow was from Idaho and the other was from the reservation. It was a marvelous winter and we enjoyed it so much. Mr. Miller had a citrus grove and we enjoyed that too.
There was a branch of the church in Colton and Abner was made second assistant in the Sunday School Superintendency. I became a teacher in the Primary association. We worked in these positions until we returned to Utah. We often had the missionaries out to dinner. We made the acquaintance of a Baptist family by the name of Bagwell. They were really nice and very friendly towards us. Robert learned to walk while we lived there.
We moved back to Heber, Utah, in May of 1923. I came to Utah on the train and Abner came with a load of bees on a freight train. We were still working for Mr. Miller. That summer, Wayne Smart was Abner’s helper and he boarded with us.
(Fred Twede Baird requested I add this to Family Search. This is only part of the third dictation.)