CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (12/26/2012) - “Put! Put! Put! Put!”
Imitating the sound of the Curtiss Condor's engines failing, the
98-year-old man mimics the rumbling motions of the aircraft falling
from the sky. His hands rush to his shoulders as if grabbing for a
parachute's straps he and the other 40 Marines on that plane had
“I thought, ‘This is it,' and then all of a
sudden, brrrr!” he describes the sound of the engines kick starting,
as he sinks into the back of the couch with relief while sighing
through a grin.
Frank Baron Jr. stands with MAG-39 Marines
for photos during the veteran's tour of the air station here Dec.
11, 2012. Baron served as an active duty Marine from 1933 to 1937.
(Photo provided by Teri Juybari, one of Baron's granddaughters)
“That's the most scared I ever was, and I love to fly,”
smiles Frank Baron Jr., a Marine who served as an airplane
rigger during the turning point of the survival of Marine
Baron's love for the Marine Corps was
sparked in Glen Burnie, Maryland, where he was born April
“I liked the Marines, I'd known them from
the time I was just a kid,” Baron explained. He grew up
three blocks from where a Marine unit would qualify for
their annual weapons training.
There was no grass,
only leaves from the shade trees, Baron described the
training grounds. He would often visit and ask the Marines
if they wanted anything from the commissary.
get me a pack of cigarettes,' or ‘Get me some soda pop', or
this or that,” he said in a forced, gruff voice, pulling his
eyebrows together. “I'd get it, and they'd give me a nickel
or a dime.”
These experiences inspired his trip to
Parris Island, South Carolina, in 1933, which marked the
beginning of his four-year enlistment in the Marine Corps.
Baron's first assignment as a military police officer
was spent in Port-au-Prince, the capital of the Caribbean
country of Haiti.
Baron and his friends, after
standing guard at the Presidential Palace, would go to the
Gonaives Bay where they would dive from a five-story-tall
“We would climb up, and dive off like
swans,” Baron chuckled at the memory. “We would be up there
looking down and about a block from us, there were sharks.”
Daily, the blood from butchered animals would run into
the bay, and that's why the sharks came, Baron stated
After nine months in Haiti, Baron was
briefly brought back to Parris Island before being sent to
San Diego, Calif.
Upon arrival to San Diego, Pvt.
Baron said he saw the military pilots flying and immediately
requested a transfer.
“I've always enjoyed being
around planes,” Baron exclaimed as his eyes lit up with
excitement. “When I was a kid, planes used to fly over, and
we would wave. You'd never believe it, but they would wave
While sharing this memory, he stretched his
thin arm above his head, waving his hand in the air.
In 1935, Baron was transferred to North Coronado Island,
officially recognized by the House Armed Services Committee
as the birthplace of Marine Corps Aviation.
working in the wings section. We would pull the canvas over
the wings and goop it up with sealant,” Baron spoke with
pride as he made pulling and stretching motions with his
hands simulating the repairs.
Every day after work,
Baron said he would look for space availability flights. For
the next two years, he would board flights for the pure joy
The flights would go almost anywhere; from
out over the ocean to down to the boarder of Mexico, Baron
explained with a toothy, ear-to-ear grin.
years worth of Marine Corps memories to look back on, Baron
joined the San Diego fire department, and once his two
granddaughters were born, he said he knew he wanted to share
his passion with them.
“When my sister and I were
young, he would take us to the San Diego airport to watch
the planes land and take off,” said Teri Juybari, one of
Baron's granddaughters. “We would watch for what seemed like
hours, and as little kids, that was pretty exciting.”
This year, Marine Corps aviation is celebrating its
centennial, which was made possible through the efforts and
dedication of Marines like Baron.
The time he spent
in the Marines and working on the planes he loved made such
an impact on his life, said Juybari. After 75 years, Baron
is still proud of being a Marine.
By USMC Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff
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