Robert Baird was born on November 13, 1921, in Los Angeles, California. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on July 30, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Marine Corps and designated a Naval Aviator on March 1, 1943. After completing fighter training, Lt Baird began flying F4U-2 Corsair night fighters with VMF(N)-532 at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, in June 1943, and deployed to the Pacific with the unit in February 1944. He returned to the U.S. in November 1944, and joined VMF(N)-533 in Okinawa in May 1945. Capt Baird was credited with destroying 6 enemy aircraft in aerial combat between June and July 1945, making him the first night ace of the U.S. Marine Corps. After returning to the U.S. in September 1945, he served with VMF(N)-542 at MCAS Cherry Point until October 1945, and then with VMF(N)-532, also at MCAS Cherry Point, until May 1947. Baird transferred to VMF(N)-531 at MCAS Cherry Point in May 1947, and then served at MCS Quantico, Virginia, from September to November 1948. Capt Baird served at MCAS El Toro, California, from November 1948 to September 1950, and then flew combat in Korea with VMF(N)-542, flying F7F-3N Tigers from October 1950 to February 1951, and then with VMF(N)-513 from February to May 1951. He served with Headquarters 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Korea from May to September 1951, and then returned to the U.S., where he served with AES-12 at MCAS Quantico, Virginia, from November 1951 to January 1952. Maj Baird served at MCS Quantico from January 1952 to July 1954, and then with VMF-312 at MCAS Cherry Point from July 1954 to September 1955. Baird remained at MCAS Cherry Point, serving in Marine Air Group 32 from September 1955 to October 1956, and then with VMF-235 at MCAS El Toro, California, from December 1956 to January 1957. He served with VMF-334 at MCAS El Toro and NAS Atsugi, Japan, from January 1957 to January 1958, and then with Marine Aircraft Group 13 at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, from February 1958 to January 1961. Col Baird served with Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps at the Pentagon from July 1961 to June 1965, and then served at NAS Alameda, California, from July 1965 to August 1967. He then deployed to Southeast Asia where he served as Assistant Chief of Staff of the First Marine Aircraft Wing in the Republic of Vietnam from August 1967 to September 1968. His final assignment was at MCAS Quantico, Virginia, where he served until his retirement from the Marine Corps on July 1, 1971. Robert Baird died on July 7, 1992, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Marine Night Fighting Squadron FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY-THREE in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Group, on the nights of 9 June, 16 June and 13 July 1945. Courageous and aggressive while engaged in combat air patrol, Captain Baird skillfully employed his radar to make contact with an enemy reconnaissance plane on 9 June and, striking quickly and furiously at low altitude, destroyed the hostile aircraft. Again, while on combat air patrol on the night of 16 June, he intercepted an enemy bomber and, pressing home a determined run, shot down the hostile plane. Later, the same night by making excellent use of his radar, he established contact with another Japanese aircraft and destroyed it. Captain Baird's fourth kill during this period occurred on the night of 13 July when, after establishing radar contact with an enemy bomber, he fearlessly closed in and, firing bursts from all six guns, shot down the hostile aircraft. His courage, daring airmanship and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.