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 

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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...

Mayaguez Incident (Cambodia)
Start Year
End Year

The Mayaguez incident, which took place between the Khmer Rouge and the United States from May 12–15, 1975, was the last official battle of the Vietnam War. The names of the Americans killed, as well as those of three U.S. Marines who were left behind on the island of Koh Tang after the battle and who were subsequently executed by the Khmer Rouge, are the last names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The merchant ship's crew, whose seizure at sea had prompted the U.S. attack, had been released in good health, unknown to the U.S. Marines or the U.S. command of the operation, before the Marines attacked. It was the only known engagement between U.S. ground forces and the Khmer Rouge.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
To Year
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  88 Also There at This Battle:
  • Albee, Richard, TSgt, (1957-1977)
  • Baker, Howard, 1stSgt, (1966-1991)
  • Barrett, Richard, Lt Col, (1970-1999)
  • Bernitt, Greg, CMSgt, (1972-1999)
  • Bickel, Les, MSgt, (1965-1987)
  • Boswell, L Elwin, SSgt, (1980-1984)
  • Bryan, David, MSgt, (1972-1994)
  • Burton, Harlis, SSgt, (1972-1995)
  • Caporaletti, Michael, CMSgt, (1971-1998)
  • Chene, Laurent, Sgt, (1975-1979)
  • Combs, Benjamin, (1971-1979)
  • Cullen, David, Sgt, (1972-1976)
  • Dube, Robert, Maj, (1964-1986)
  • Fisher, Charles, MSgt, (1973-1994)
  • Franklin, Keith, MSgt, (1957-1980)
  • Giles, William, MSgt, (1954-1977)
  • Gleason, Paul, MSgt, (1972-1992)
  • Guthrie, William, MSgt, (1968-1993)
  • Harmon, Harold, Sgt, (1971-1975)
  • Harper, Carl, SSgt, (1968-1977)
  • Harrison, Joe, SMSgt, (1966-1986)
  • Hartman, William, SrA, (1974-1977)
  • Holmes, Paul, MSgt, (1973-1993)
  • Hudson, Carson, SSgt, (1970-1979)
  • Isom, Colin
  • Jolley, Mark, Sgt, (1972-1976)
  • Juul, Kevin, SSgt, (1972-1978)
  • Kemp, Charlie, TSgt, (1970-1990)
  • Lancy, Thomas, MSgt, (1968-1989)
  • Leto, John, SSgt, (1973-1980)
  • McCurdy, Frank (Mac), MSgt, (1971-1993)
  • Moore, John, MSgt, (1973-1997)
  • Napier, Bill, SrA, (1974-1978)
  • Norris, Brett, MSgt, (1977-1995)
  • Penny, Charlie, MSgt, (1970-1994)
  • Persons, Edwin, 1stSgt, (1972-1994)
  • Petitto, Wayne, Col, (1972-2003)
  • Pruitt, Gary, SMSgt, (1960-1989)
  • Rock, Michael, Sgt, (1972-1976)
  • Rositer, Robert, CMSgt, (1969-1994)
  • Schicker, Bob, SMSgt, (1972-2000)
  • Shillings, Lell, SSgt, (1971-1979)
  • Stringfellow, Tim, Sgt, (1972-1976)
  • Tanner, James J, MSgt, (1958-1980)
  • Thorne, Paul, Sgt, (1972-1978)
  • Venski, Stephen, MSgt, (1972-1998)
  • Williamson, Frank, TSgt, (1972-1986)
  • Wright, David, MSgt, (1968-1992)
  • Yahnka, Reinold, MSgt, (1972-1992)
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