Tragic Loss of Maine Army National Guard Officer

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Lt. Col. Michael J. Backus

AUGUSTA, ME (01/08/2013)(readMedia)-- Maine Army National Guard officer, Lt. Col. Michael J. Backus of Wilton, died unexpectedly on Monday, January 7, 2013 while performing his duties at Camp Keyes in Augusta. The cause of his death is still under investigation.

Backus, a graduate of Mt. Blue High School in 1986, and a 1990 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served his country in a number of different capacities of increasing responsibility throughout his career.

After West Point, Lt. Col Backus was selected to attend flight school where he trained and served as an Apache helicopter pilot.

Backus joined the Maine Army National Guard in 2001 where he qualified as a Blackhawk Helicopter pilot. As a member of the 112th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) Backus deployed to Kuwait in 2003 serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.

In 2004 Lt. Col. Backus was handpicked to help establish the National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program in Maine beginning our ongoing relationship with the country of Montenegro.

Backus served in many high profile positions including the Maine National Guard Public Affairs Officer, Executive Officer of the 52d Troop Command in Bangor, Recruiting and Retention Battalion Commander and his most recent position as Current Operations Branch Chief for the Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics.

Brigadier General James D. Campbell, the Adjutant General of the Maine National Guard said today "We are shocked and saddened by the unexpected loss of Lt. Col. Backus. Mike was a longstanding career officer who served professionally in a number of key assignments and served the country and state well. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."

Details regarding funeral services are pending.