Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lieutenant Commander Richard Swan Baron

Photo from "Lucky Bag" Class of 1924 US Naval Academy at Annapolis

Richard Swan Baron was born in Lowell, MA January 22, 1901 to Charles and Mary Louise (Swan) Baron and grew up at 88 Eleventh Avenue in the Centralville section. He graduated from Lowell High School and was appointed to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis just like his father. He had a twin sister Gwendolyn, brother Gerald and sister Natalie. The family also had a summer home on Baker's Island in Salem, MA.

Richard's mother was the great grand daughter of Robert Swan of Peterborough, NH and a member of the Daughters of the Revolution (55251). Robert Swan fought at Ticonderoga with Captain Joseph Parker's company. Richard's parents are buried in the Lowell Cemetery.

He rose to the rank of Lieutenant  Commander while serving in China and the Philippines. Right after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor they attacked the Philippines. General McArthur and American forces had been there for about three years. They were unprepared for the attack. Lieutenant  Commander Richard Swan Baron was in Cavite during the initial attack and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions entering a burning building at grave danger to himself to retrieve important military documents. The Navy Cross is the second highest Navy military honor, second only to the Medal of Honor.

The Lieutenant Commander was killed in action on March 15, 1942 by the Japanese invasion in Cebu. He was survived by his wife Anne Baron, his mother, his siblings and three young daughters; Mary Louise, Ann and Gerald. In his memory the US Navy had a Destroyer Escort ship named in his memory. The USS Baron DE-166 was christened in New Jersey May 9, 1943 and saw wartime service.

Lieutenant Commander Richard Swan Baron is buried in the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. This cemetery, covering 152 acres, maintained by the American Battle Monument Commission, contains 17,206 American burials and  3,744 unknown burials. The cemetery contains the largest number of graves of any U.S. personnel killed during World War Two.

He never came home. We must not forget Lowell native Richard Swan Baron who paid the ultimate sacrifice so far from home.


  1. While General Douglas MacArthur had been there for three years, as a "Field Marshall" of the Philippine Army, we, as Americans, had been there since Admiral George Dewey defeated Admiral Patricio Montojo y PasarĂ³n at the Battle of Manila Bay, in 1898.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. Thank you for compiling this. I am Anne Baron, his granddaughter, my mother is Mary Louise, aka by all as "Peter Baron". He was District Issuing Officer on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, SIXTEENTH Naval District, Cavite Navy Yard, Philippine Islands when he made his heroic action. Then he was moved to Cebu where he died. We have some good photographs of Richard as an officer and three sobering letters he sent home in the few months before he was killed in action.

    1. I'm sorry I did not see this til now. Thank you for the service of your grandfather. He should be in the Lowell High School Hall of Fame. Contact me at and maybe we can make this happen. A great man, a great family & a great sacrifice. Email me I have more photos and stories. - Eileen

  3. My dad served on DE 166 USS Baron from '43 through the end of the war. He was CPO and Chief Pharmacist Mate. He met Richard Baron while he was serving in Cavite, Sangley Point, and requested service on DE 166. My dad passed in 2006 in his late 80's. Never spoke of his WW2 experiences - but did maintain friendship with one other shipmate - also from NY. Thank you for your contribution and that of your grandfather. Dr. CF Morrisseey