Retired Aug. 1, 1961. Died March 30, 1973.
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.
Vernon High School, Vernon, Texas, 1924
University of Oklahoma, 1926-27
Washington and Lee University, bachelor of arts degree, 1929
Basic and Advanced Flying Training, Kelly Field, 1933
Combat Operations School, Orlando, Fla., 1944
Air War College, Regular Course, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., 1948
National War College, Regular Course, Washington, D. C., 1951
University of Maryland, master of arts degree, 1961
1. Mar 1932 - Feb 1933 flying cadet, Randolph Field, Texas
2. Mar 1933 - Dec 1934 3rd Attack Group, Fort Crockett, Texas
3. Feb 1936 - Nov 1936 3rd Attack Group, Barksdale Field, La.
4. 1940 - 1941 27th Air Base Group, engineering and maintenance officer, Philippines; commander, 16th Dive Bomb Squadron, Australia
5. Dec 1941 - Jul 1942 10th Air Force, New Delhi, India
6. Jul 1942 - Sep 1943 commander 12th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force, Egypt
7. Oct 1943 - Mar 1944 School of Applied Tactics, Orlando, Fla.
8. Mar 1944 - Oct 1945 commander 97th Bombardment Wing, England
9. Nov 1945 - Mar 1946 War Separation Board, Washington, D.C.
10. Apr 1946 - Aug 1947 deputy chief of staff, 10th Air Force, Brooks Field, Texas
11. Aug 1947 - Jul 1948 student, Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
12. Jul 1948 - Aug 1950 liaison officer, House of Representatives, Secretary of the Air Force
13. Aug 1950 - Jul 1951 student, National War College, Washington, D.C.
14. Jul 1951 - Jan 1952 chief, Flight Operations Division, Headquarters U.S. Air Force
15. Jan 1952 - Aug 1952 executive officer, Deputy Chief of Staff/Operations, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force
16. Aug 1952 - Sep 1953 commander, Headquarters 29th Air Defense Division, Great Falls Air Force Base, Mont.
17. Sep 1953 - Sep 1954 commander, Headquarters 43rd Air Defense Division, Far East Air Command
18. Sep 1954 - Jul 1955 Deputy Chief of Staff/Operations Headquarters 5th Air Force, Far East Air Command
19. Jul 1955 - Jul 1956 commander, Headquarters 39th Air Division, Far East Air Command
20. Jul 1956 - Jul 1958 commander, Headquarters 35th Air Division, Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Ga.
21. Jul 1958 - Jan 1959 commander, Headquarters 35th North American Air Defense Division, Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Ga.
22. Jan 1959 - Jul 1959 commander, Headquarters 32nd Air Division (SAGE), Air Defense Command, Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Ga.
23. Jul 1959 - member, Secretary of the Air Force Personnel Council
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
Silver Star 1942
Legion of Merit 1943 - oak leaf cluster 1961
Distinguished Flying Cross 1943
Air Medal 1943
World War II Victory Medal 1953
American Defense Service Medal 1953
American Campaign Medal 1953
Korean Service Medal 1952
United Nations Service Medal 1953
National Defense Service Medal 1953
Philippine Liberation Medal 1953
Distinguished Unit Citation 1942
Croix De Guerre 1945
European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal 1953
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal 1953
While General Backus was commander of the 16th Bomb Squadron, 27th Dive Bomb Group, he was credited with sinking a Japanese Cruiser in the Straits of Lambok in February 1942. He was flying an A-24. Bailed out of Chinese Fighter (Curtiss-hawk) 90 miles north of Chunking, China in January 1942 when airplane ran out of fuel. Spent two days finding his way back to outfit.