Saturday, June 18, 2011

Army Pfc. Brian J. Backus

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Brian J. Backus, 21, of Saginaw Township, Mich.

Pfc Backus was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., died June 18, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

HARBOR BEACH — Inside the United Methodist Church here this past spring, Pfc. Brian J. Backus appeared in uniform before leaving for war, and the townsfolk said a prayer for him.

On Monday, they awaited details of his funeral.

“Brian was a beautiful young man, and this is really hitting us hard,” said Rev. Paula M. Timm, 49, pastor of Harbor Beach United Methodist Church, where Backus, 21, went to church.

Backus, a 2008 graduate of Harbor Beach High School, died Saturday of wounds suffered when his unit came under attack by small arms fire that day in Afghanistan. The Department of Defense lists his address as Saginaw Township, and friends said he attended college in the Saginaw area for a time.

“He was just in church a few months ago looking all handsome, and we sort of prayed over him and blessed him,” Timm said. “I call him a beautiful young man because he had a tender spirit, he was good-hearted and giving.

“He had that twinkle in his eye and he was just a sweetheart. This is just breaking our hearts.”

Ramsey Funeral Home in Harbor Beach will handle funeral arrangements, though no details have been announced yet.

Backus is survived by a 2-year-old son, Jack, and by his parents, Alan and Anne Backus, and by a brother, Paul.

He was his class president and was in the Top Ten of his class at Harbor Beach High. He was a combat medic in the Army, and was considering a career in the medical field, according to Timm.

“He was a high achiever, a smart young man,” Timm said. “He wasn’t a kid in trouble that the (military) service is good at straightening out. That’s not what he was about.”

Backus’ father works for DTE Energy in Harbor Beach and his mother works for the Harbor Beach Area District Library, where library clerk Cindy A. Stevenson, 57, said workers learned of Brian’s death this morning.

“We’re all in shock,” Stevenson said. “Brian used to come in the library and harass his mom a little bit and play around, so he had a sense of humor.”

Alan and Anne Backus, the late soldier’s parents, were on vacation in Alaska when they received word of their son’s death, according to Timm and Stevenson.

Timm called the Backuses a “church-going family” who enjoyed the outdoors. Stevenson said she and her husband drove a car to Port Huron, where Brian Backus was waiting to take it late last year, so he could have a car at Fort Drum, N.Y. in the months before he deployed to Afghanistan.

“I told him to be safe,” Stevenson said. “He said he was gonna try. He was dedicated.”

Army Pfc. Brian J. Backus was killed in action on 6/18/11.

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