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Edward Nolen Backus

Military

Edward N. Backus was born in Vernon, Texas, in 1906. He graduated from Vernon High School in 1924 and attended the University of Oklahoma and Washington and Lee University where he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1929.

From 1929 to 1932 he was a teacher and athletic coach in Vernon Texas High School. In March 1932 he was appointed flying cadet at Randolph Field, Texas, and he was commissioned second lieutenant lieutenant, Army Air Corps Reserve in February 1933.

He served with the Third Attack Group, Fort Crockett, Texas, until December 1934, at which time he reverted to inactive status and began his civilian flying career. He flew for a year with American Airlines between Los Angeles and El Paso but in 1936 again entered on active duty with the Army Air Corps. Lieutenant Backus was again assigned to active duty with the Third Attack Group which by this time was located at Barksdale Field, La.

In November 1936 he reverted to inactive status and returned to a civilian flying career, this time with Pan American Airways. During the following four years with Pan American he flew between Brownsville, Texas and South America and between Baltimore, Md., and Lisbon, Portugal.

In 1940 Lieutenant Backus was recalled to active service in the Army Air Corps and was assigned to the 27th Bombardment Wing, Barksdale Field, La., as operations officer of the 16th Bombardment Squadron. In late 1940 Lieutenant Backus moved with the 27th Bomb Wing from Barksdale Field, La., to Savannah Army Air Base, Ga. While at Savannah, Lieutenant Backus became group engineering and maintenance officer for the 27th Dive Bomb Group.

In late 1941 Lieutenant Backus was promoted to captain and accompanied the 27th Dive Bomb Group to the Philippine Islands. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain Backus was sent to Brisbane, Australia to help assemble aircraft of the 27th Dive Bomb Group which had been diverted to Brisbane, Australia instead of to Manila in the Philippine Islands due to the Japanese action in the Philippines.

In February 1942 Captain Backus led the 16th Dive Bomb Squadron from Brisbane, Australia to Java. This squadron was the first Dive Bomb Squadron in the Far East and saw brief but effective action against Japanese shipping in the East Indies.

In late February 1942 Captain Backus was promoted to major after which he accompanied General Brereton to New Dilhi, India as a member of his staff of the 10th Air Force with Headquarters in New Delhi. He remained in the China-Burma-India Theater until July 1942 when as a lieutenant colonel he accompanied General Brereton to Cairo, Egypt to become a member of the staff of the Ninth Air Force.

In September 1942 lieutenant colonel Backus was assigned as commander of the 12th Bomb Group with Headquarters at Dever Soir, Egypt. In October 1942 the Headquarters of the 12th Bomb Group was moved to the Western desert in support of the British 8th Army and lieutenant colonel Backus was promoted to full colonel. For the next year the 12th Bomb Group participated in the North African and Sicilian Campaigns.

In September 1943 Colonel Backus returned to the United States where he was assigned director of combat operations at the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics in Orlando, Fla. He remained there until March 1944 when he went to England as commander of 97th Bomb Wing which participated in bombardment missions in France and Germany from April 1944 to May 1945. Colonel Backus was promoted to the temporary grade of brigadier general in August 1944.

In October 1945 Brigadier General Backus returned to the United States and was assigned a member of the Secretary of War Separations Board. He remained in this position until March 1946 when he reverted to the rank of colonel and was reassigned chief of staff, Headquarters 10th Air Force at Brooks Field, San Antonio, Texas.

In August 1947 Colonel Backus attended the Air War College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., from which he graduated in June 1948. In July 1948 he was assigned liaison officer with the House of Representatives and later chief of the Legislative Division, Directorate of Legislation and Liaison, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington.

In August 1950 he entered the National War College, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. from which he graduated in July 1951. From July 1951 colonel Backus served as director of flight operations and as executive officer in the Directorate of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff/Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In August 1952 colonel Backus was transferred to Great Falls Air Force Base, Mont., where he became commander of the 29th Air Division (Def).

In August 1953 colonel Backus was transferred to the Far East as commander of the 43rd Air Division (Def), Japan Air Defense Force. A year later he became deputy chief of staff for operations at Headquarters Fifth Air Force, Nogoya, Japan in which position he was promoted to rank of temporary brigadier general in July 1955. In August 1955 he was appointed commander of the 39th Air Division at Misawa Air Base, Japan where he was responsible for the aerial defense of Northern Japan.

In July 1956 General Backus returned to the United States and took command of the 35th Air Division (Def) at Dobbins Air Force Base, Ga. He remained in this capacity when the 35th Division became the 35th North American Air Defense Division on 10 July 1948, and later the 32nd Air Defense Division (SAGE), with no change in duty station.

Subsequently, General Backus was assigned as member of the Secretary of the Air Force Personnel Council in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., in July 1959 where he remained until retirement in August 1961.

Service

Aircraft

Associated Place

  • Little Walden

    Military site : airfield
    Little Walden was built as a Class A airfield suitable for American heavy bombers. The 409th Bomb Group, as part of the Ninth Air Force, was stationed at the base between March and September 1944, flying A-20 Havocs. ...

  • Ponte Olivo

    Military site : airfield

  • Gerbini

    Military site : airfield

  • Sfax

    Military site : airfield

  • Hergla

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Vernon, Texas 16 July 1906
Graduated Lexington, Virgnia June 1929

Wahington & Lee University

Bachelor of Arts

Operations Officer Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia October 1940

27th Dive Bomb Group

Squadron Commander Brisbane, Australia February 1942

16th Dive Bomb Squadron

In February 1942 he was credited with sinking a Japanese cruiser while flying an A-24 (Army version of the SBD Dauntless) in the Straits of Lambok

Group Commander Hergla, Tunisia September 1942 – September 1943

12th Bomb Group

Lead the group from several bases in North Africa and Italy

Wing Commander Little Walden Airfield, UK April 1944 – May 1945

97th Combat Bomb Wing

During this time he flew 14 combat missions with the 416th BG as well as other missions with the other two groups in the wing.

Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks Army Airfield, San Antonio, Texas April 1946 – May 1947

10th Air Force

Died San Benito, Texas 30 March 1973
Buried Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery 3 April 1973

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA
Plot
Section 2A Site 2361

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
06 April 2021 20:35:05 466thHistorian Changes to service number and awards
Sources

https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2345/images/40014_18211...

Date Contributor Update
06 April 2021 20:28:20 466thHistorian Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/308838/edward-nolen-backus
https://military.wikia.org/wiki/97th_Bombardment_Wing_(World_War_II)
https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/107804/brigadier....
http://www.416th.com/missions/LoadingList.html

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