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Face of Defense: Soldier Serves as Jack of All Trades

By Army Spc. Justin Snyder
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Oct. 7, 2008 – The phone at the desk is ringing. At the same time, a soldier is hovering, asking for help with getting lights for an event to be held later.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Baird, Mountain Visitor Bureau Commandant at the Multinational Division Center headquarters building and a native of Bartlett, Ill., stands by his cubicle at Camp Victory, Iraq, Oct. 2, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Justin Snyder, Multinational Division Center

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

You can almost sense that a doorknob just broke somewhere or the air conditioning isn’t working in someone’s office.

This is the daily juggling act of Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Baird, Mountain Visitor Bureau Commandant at the Multinational Division Center headquarters building here.

“I do the little stuff to keep this building running,” said Baird, a native of Bartlett, Ill. “The command group is in charge of near 21,000 troops, so it’s my job to keep things going so they don’t have to worry about the smaller things.”

Baird has coordinated projects such as the construction of walls around offices and fixing the electrical grid coming into the headquarters, as well as fixing up the gym in the building’s basement.

He also is the “go-to guy” when it comes to work orders coming through the headquarters building.

“Things are always going to need [to be] fixed, and I’m that middle man between it getting done or not,” Baird said. “Right now, the biggest issue is working with the electricity. We are going to keep working with things to make life for the soldiers who are here, or will be here, better.”

His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed among his fellow soldiers.

“He’s very proactive, and he is constant at getting his job done,” said Army Spc. Sam White, a driver for the 10th Mountain Division’s deputy commander for operations. “You can’t walk around the building and not see him doing something to improve [it]. He’s great at what he does and is important.”

Baird, who owned a miniature golf course in Illinois prior to joining the Army, said that while his job is important, he isn’t any more important than any other soldier.

“Duty is duty, and everybody has a job that needs to be done,” he said. “I believe that every soldier is equally important in accomplishing the overall mission. All I am is another soldier serving their country and doing their job.”

Baird knows a few things about serving his country. He’s been in the military since 2002, when he felt the call to duty following the 9/11 attacks. This is his fourth deployment – three times to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and once to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

He served with the infantry in 2003 and 2005, and worked under a command group in 2006. Though his role has changed with each deployment, he said, his overall mission remains the same: “We are here to take care of one another and make sure everyone comes home,” he said. “Deployments are deployments, no matter which way you look at things. No matter what I’m doing, I’m still [a noncommissioned officer]. Whether it’s a private or a general, my main focus is to take care of soldiers and improve their quality of life.”

Baird was rewarded for his hard work with an Oct. 1 promotion from sergeant to staff sergeant. A small ceremony was held outside his office, where nearly 100 of his colleagues came to show their support.

“It was really outstanding to see that many people come for my promotion,” he said. “Lieutenant Colonel Steven Parker pinned me, and Command Sergeant Major James Redmore pinned my hat. People in this building are working hard, and for them to take time out of their busy schedule, I appreciated it a lot.”

Baird said he has a lot of plans for when he returns to his home station at Fort Drum, N.Y., but that he remains focused on getting his job done now.

“I recently bought a new home and have plans to renovate it when I get back,” he said. “I’ve got a few months to go, so I’ll keep working, just taking every day as it comes and roll with the flow.”

(Army Spc. Justin Snyder serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.)

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