More detail on this person: Firmin J. Baye, Jr., January 19, 1931_July 6, 2016.
The family of Firmin Baye announces his arrival to a far better place. He was born 85 years ago in the family home in Groves, Texas_the only son in a family of nine. Throughout his life he earned a reputation for being generous, loyal, humble, and for having a keen sense of humor. He spent his early years shining shoes, mowing grass for neighbors, and later, working at a gas station and a golf course in the hot Texas sun. Prime among his passions was music, and as a child he earned admission into movie theaters by playing his harmonica to open the show. He spent the remainder of his younger years practicing the clarinet and earning the rank of Life Scout.
Ultimately, Firmin's love for music introduced him to the true love of his life_Jaynet_who played the marimba in the Port Neches-Groves High School Band. Firmin and Jaynet were married at the budding ages of 18 and 17, and enjoyed 66 years together as husband and wife. They established homes in many states (including Alabama, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas), foreign countries and U.S. Territories (including Japan, Germany, and Guam in the South Pacific). His travels, many with Jaynet, also included more exotic destinations around the globe (such as Panama, Costa Rica, Kenya, Israel, and Nepal) that are marked with 142 "pins" on a map kept downstairs in their Lake LBJ residence.
Firmin joined the U.S. Army in 1948, and earned the rank of Sergeant after one year of service. He served as a member of the Army Band, with tours in Guam, Japan, Oklahoma, and ultimately as a student at the Naval School of Music in Washington, DC. There, he learned to play every instrument in the band_a skill that he enjoyed sharing with others throughout his life.
Shortly thereafter_having observed pilots flying overhead wearing sunglasses and dangling feet over the hot drill fields where he marched with the band_he changed careers and was accepted as a student at helicopter school in Fort Rucker, Alabama. Upon graduation, he was asked to serve as an instructor and later became the first Warrant Officer in the Army to become instrument certified in a helicopter. He served as an instructor pilot in the CH-34, OH-6, and the UH-1 helicopters. He was also an "instrument flight examiner" in helicopters_the highest instructor rating one could achieve in the Army.
As an Army pilot, Firmin's orders took him to places including Colorado (where he flew VIPs and used his mountain flying skills to rescue victims of avalanches), Korea (where he received an award from the Prime Minister of South Korea for saving the lives of thousands of Koreans from a flood), and ultimately to Vietnam in 1965 (where he received 30 Air Medals and a Bronze Star for Valor while serving as a Medevac Pilot).
After his tour in Vietnam, Firmin and his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he served as a Presidential pilot for Lyndon Baines Johnson. His outfit was responsible for flying the President on all helicopter flight details west of the Mississippi River. Additionally, he flew the President during several overseas trips_including a Christmas Eve landing in the Vatican in which Firmin used a post-card for navigation.
After his retirement from the Army in 1968, Firmin moved his family to Sunrise Beach, Texas, where he flew LBJ as a private pilot through his employment with Arthur B. Krim. Following the death of President Johnson, Firmin worked as the manager and foreman of Krim's Santana Ranch. For almost 50 years following his retirement from the Army, he served the community in volunteer capacities ranging from Fire Chief (for the Sunrise Beach VFD) to organist, music director and Deacon for local churches. His generosity, humility, infectious laugh, and sense of humor will be missed by all who knew him.
Firmin is preceded in death by his parents and his sisters Alberta, Elma, Ethel, Joyce, and Rebecca. He is survived by his sister Elaine Hamilton, his wife Jaynet, his son Michael and daughter-in-law, M'Lissa, and his grandchildren Natalie and Mitchell. Firmin is also survived by his loving brothers- and sisters- in-law, Helen & Bruce Dement and Sam & Gail Showalter, and a number of nephews and nieces in Texas and Louisiana.
An Open House to celebrate Firmin J. Baye's life well-lived is planned for Saturday, September 3, 2016 in Sunrise Beach. In lieu of flowers or cards, the family asks that you demonstrate Firmin-like generosity by helping a person or charitable organization that is in need. An Online guest registry may be signed at www.PutnamCares.com
Cremation arrangements made by Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, 145 Texas Avenue, Kingsland, Texas 78639. (325) 388-0008
This information was last updated 12/11/2016
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 04/23/2022
Copyright © 1998 - 2022 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association