Captain Baum was born on July 3, 1883, in Leavenworth, Kansas, the son of John Baum and Mrs. Sophia Marie (Endebrock) Baum. He attended Leavenworth High School, before his appointment to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1900. While a Midshipman he was Captain of the Gymnastic Team ( 1903-1904). Graduated on February 1, 1904, he served his two years at sea, as then required by law, before being commissioned an Ensign to date from February 2, 1906. Thereafter he advanced periodically in grade to that of Captain to date from June 2, 1927 and on June 30, 1939, he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
Following graduation from the Academy in 1904, Captain Baum was assigned to the USS Des Moines, and while attached to that cruiser was a member of the landing forces, protecting American interest, at Santo Domingo, Haiti, Cuba and Honduras, between 1905 and 1908. During 1909 and 1910 he was commanding the USS Mindoro on patrol against Moro pirates in the Southern Philippines and in 1911 joined the USS New Orleans as Executive Officer. While in that assignment he saw duty during the Chinese Revolution, when the New Orleans was evacuating Americans from Nanking, China.
In June 1912 Captain Baum returned to the United States and reported for duty in the Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department, Washington, DC. He remained there until April 1914, when he joined the USS Marietta as Executive Officer and temporary Commanding Officer. The Marietta was at San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic protecting American interest during the revolution prior to the occupation by the US Marines. In 1915, he transferred to the USS Connecticut and commanded the landing force from that vessel against Cacos in the vicinity of Cape Haitien.
During World War I, Captain Baum served consecutively as Navigator of the Connecticut and Executive Officer of the USS Antigone. From December 1918 to December 1920 he was again assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence, after which he reported for duty at the Naval Station, Cavite, Philippine Islands. Following a month’s service in command of the USS Panther, he assumed command, in February 1921, of the USS Tracy and commanded her until March 1923.
Captain Baum had instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and upon completion of the course in June 1925 assumed command of the USS Niaraga, which was conducting surveys of the Gulf of Venezuela and Bay of Panama. Relieved of command of the Niagara in November 1927, he served until September 1930 as Naval Attaché at Berlin, Germany; Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden, and while in that assignment was a Delegate to the International Hydrographic Conference at Monte Carlo in 1927.
Between September 1930 and June 1932, Captain Baum commanded successively Destroyer Squadrons Ten and Two of the Battle Fleet, after which he returned to the States for duty in the Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, California. He remained there until 1934, when he assumed command of the USS Arizona, and continued sea service aboard her until July 1936. Completing an assignment in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, DC, in June 1937, he became Captain of the Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and also Commanding Officer of the Receiving Station there. On June 30, 1939, he was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy.
Recalled to active duty on December 12, 1941, he reported six days later as a Member on the Inspection Board for Naval Districts, at the Navy Department, and in May 1942 he transferred to the Office of the Naval Inspector General, Navy Department. He remained in that assignment until May 1944, when he became a Member of the Naval Mission to Peru at Lima, Peru. For meritorious conduct in this duty he received a Letter of Commendation, with authorization to wear the Commendation Ribbon, from the Secretary of Navy.
In June 1946, he was assigned duty with General Court Martials in the Twelfth Naval District, San Francisco, California, and remained there until again relieved of all active duty on March 21, 1947. He was again transferred to the Retired List on October 1, 1947.
In addition to the Commendation Ribbon, Captain Baum has the Navy Expeditionary Medal; the Cuban Pacification Medal; the Haitian Campaign Medal; the World War I Victory Medal, Transport Clasp; the American Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal. He has also been awarded Military Order of Ayacucho (Commander) from the Government of Peru.