Backlund, Donald Roy, Maj

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1979-1979, 1021A, Air Training Command
Service Years
1971 - 1979

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

12 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Backlund, Donald Roy, Maj.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Last Address
New Mexico

Date of Passing
Aug 29, 1979
Location of Interment
United States Air Force Academy Cemetery - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: 003 B 014

 Official Badges 

Combat Rescue Officer Combat Crew Air Training Command Instructor (post-1966)

 Unofficial Badges 

Cold War Medal

 Military Association Memberships
In the Line of DutyAir Force Memorial (AFM)
  2014, In the Line of Duty
  2016, Air Force Memorial (AFM) - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

He was awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions during the operation to rescue the crew of the SS Mayaguez in Apr 1975. He was attending A-10A Thunderbolt II conversion training when he was killed during an A-10 training flight at the Gila Bend Gunnery Range in Gila Bend, AZ. At the time of his death, he was getting ready for his next assignment as an A-10 pilot with the 91st Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Woodbridge, England. He was posthumously promoted to Major, and was buried at the Air Force Academy Cemetery on Sep 5, 1979.  

His AF Cross citation reads:
Awarded for actions during the S.S. Mayaguez Incident

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to First Lieutenant Donald R. Backlund, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as a Helicopter Aircraft Commander of an HH-53 Helicopter of the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action on 15 May 1975 at Koh Tang Island, Cambodia. On that date, while engaged in the recovery of the S.S. MAYAGUEZ and crew, Lieutenant Backlund, exhibiting superb airmanship, placed a contingent of United States Marines aboard the destroyer escort, U.S.S. HOLT. He then successfully landed several United States Marines on Koh Tang Island despite intense ground fire. After escorting his wingman to the U.S.S. CORAL SEA, Lieutenant Backlund then returned to Koh Tang Island and successfully recovered a group of United States Marines and airmen although encountering heavy, consistent ground fire. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of hostile forces, Lieutenant Backlund reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

General Orders: Department of the Air Force, Special Order GB-583 (July 14, 1975)

Action Date: May 15, 1975

Service: Air Force

Rank: First Lieutenant

Company: 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron

Division: Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand


Other Comments:
 Photo Album   (More...

  1973-1975, 1021A, 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron

First Lieutenant
From Month/Year
May / 1973
To Month/Year
June / 1975
40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron Unit Page
First Lieutenant
Nakhon Phanom RTAFB
 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron Details

40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron
Combat - Rescue
Parent Unit
Rescue Units
Air Squadron
Created/Owned By
Not Specified

Last Updated: Mar 12, 2020
My Photos For This Unit
No Available Photos
20 Members Also There at Same Time
40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron

Dube, Robert, Maj, (1964-1986) 102 1021A Major
Kemper, Thomas, Capt, (1972-1984) 102 1023C First Lieutenant
Rovito, Gilbert Allan, Capt, (1970-1973) 102 1025F First Lieutenant
McLeod, David Vance, MSgt, (1963-1973) 113 113X0 Master Sergeant
DiDia, Frank, MSgt, (1957-1978) 1A 1A1X1 Technical Sergeant
Jernigan, Johnnie, MSgt, (1964-1984) 301 30171 Technical Sergeant
Gordon, Robert, MSgt, (1970-1990) 421 42153 Staff Sergeant
Kollisch, Frank, SSgt, (1972-1982) 328 32854 Staff Sergeant
Norwood, Harold G., MSgt, (1967-1989) 113 113X0 Staff Sergeant
Walsh, James, SSgt, (1970-1974) 113 113X0 Staff Sergeant
Groce, Samuel, MSgt, (1973-1996) 431 43150C Sergeant
Hoben, Philip, Sgt, (1971-1974) 571 57130 Sergeant
Juul, Kevin, SSgt, (1972-1978) 423 42350 Sergeant
Shillings, Lell, SSgt, (1971-1979) 462 46250 Sergeant
Taylor, Andrew, Sgt, (1971-1974) 431 43150C Sergeant
Lindow, Thomas, Sgt, (1973-1977) 431 43150C Airman 1st Class
De Jesus, Jesus, MSgt, (1968-1992) 111 Staff Sergeant
Zehnder, Herbert R., Col, (1943-1975) Lieutenant Colonel
Meador, Francis Elmore, 1st Lt, (1970-1973) First Lieutenant
Detachment 1

Higgins, Lester, Sgt, (1970-1976) 350 00350 Sergeant

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