Thursday, June 13, 2024

Avenue of Heroes: Joanne Elston Baird

Prepared by: Sheryll L. Elston (mother)

Joanne Elston Baird was born on January 15, 1981, in Medford, New Jersey, to Gilbert and Sheryll Elston. She was an excellent student and athlete, earning 12 high school varsity letters in four different sports, including accolades of winning the gold medal in the Penn Relays 4×400 meter race as a freshman, and competing in the state finals for soccer as a senior. She continued her athletic career through college and played Division I soccer for William & Mary in Virginia. Her love for sports drew her to the field of orthopedic surgery and she was driven to pursue a career in medicine. Joanne was accepted at Georgetown University School of Medicine and her family’s military history inspired her to apply, and gain acceptance, into the Health Services Scholarship Program.

When she graduated from medical school, LT Elston was sent to Medical Center San Diego for an internship and moved to Coronado to be closer to her Aunt Emily and Uncle Joe Talbert. After completing her internship, she was assigned to the USS Germantown (LSD 42) as the general medical officer where she earned her Surface Warfare Pin and the Navy Marine Corp Commendation Medal for meritorious service.

After serving on the USS Germantown, Joanne returned to Balboa Hospital for residency in orthopedic surgery and volunteered as an assistant coach for the Coronado High School varsity girls’ soccer team. Upon completion of residency, LCDR Elston married Charles Baird, and was transferred to Naval Hospital Pensacola as a general orthopedic surgeon. She continued training in combat care, earned a second Commendation Medal, and held several leadership roles including Department Head of Orthopedic Surgery.

Upon completing 12 years of military service, Joanne pursued her true calling to subspecialize in sports medicine. She completed a fellowship in sports medicine at Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida, in 2020, and then joined a private orthopedic practice, Gulf Orthopedics, in Alabama. In 2021, Joanne was named to Mobile Bay Magazine’s class of “40 Under 40.”

Dr. Joanne Baird continues her passion for sports as the team physician for the Elberta High School Warriors. She lives in Pensacola, Florida, with her husband, Chaz, and their two children, Ryann (4 years) and Lincoln (11 months).

The Avenue of Heroes military service recognition program is sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 261 hometown heroes to date. On May 18, 2024, another 16 were honored. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation.
In 2011, the program was inspired spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly and the local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. That moment made clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes.
That spontaneous beginning launched the program in May 2015 with 18 banners. The Avenue of Heroes is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to the country.


Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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