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Biography of Joseph J. Backloupe

Ennis, Texas

First Lieutenant Joseph J. Backloupe was a reserve officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was called to active duty on February 6, 1941, and reported at Camp Murray near, Tacoma, Washington, which is located along the shores of Commencement Bay and the foot of Mount Rainier, in Pierce County. 

While serving at Camp Murray, Backloupe volunteered to serve in the Republic of Panama. He was granted a furlough that he spent in Ennis with his parents, and on August 16 reported for duty at Camp Clayton in the Republic of Panama. 

On Friday night, December 12, 1941, while on duty at battalion headquarters at Rio Hato air base, eighty miles southwest of the Panama Canal on the Pacific side, he was instantly killed when a U.S. Army Air Force bomber crashed into the building in which he was working. At the time of his death, Backloupe was commander of Company B, 11th Engineers, and had received notification of his promotion to captain that would be officially conferred on him February 8, 1942. 

Joseph J. Backloupe was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. O. L. Backloupe of Ennis. He was born in Ennis on October 20, 1911, and graduated Ennis High School in the Class of 1929. He entered Texas A and M College the following fall, and received a degree in chemical engineering in June of 1933. Upon graduating college, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserves. He was employed in Dallas at the time he was called to active duty. 

Miss Helen Haltcant was the fiancée of Joseph Backloupe, and a teacher in the Tacoma, Washington schools. Helen Haltcant had made all arrangements to leave Tacoma on Saturday, December 13 for the Republic of Panama to marry Backloupe. Upon receiving word of his death, she notified his parents that she was leaving for Ennis to be with them for a short period of time. 

On Friday, December 12, the Backloupes received a letter written by their son. He had written it during a blackout with the aid of a flashlight. The next day, they received the telegram notifying them of his death. His parents and two sisters, Mrs. J. A. (Jennie Rose) McEver of Ennis and Mrs. Walter Holliday of Cleburne, survived him. 

The body of First Lieutenant Joseph J. Backloupe was returned to Ennis on December 23 escorted by Captain Doree, U.S. Army Chaplain of New Orleans, and interred in the family lot in Myrtle Cemetery on December 24, 1941. 

At 4:10 p.m. on December 8, 1941 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the declaration of war against Japan, and on December 11, 1941 he signed the declaration of war against Germany at 3:05 p.m. and Italy at 3:06 p.m. First Lieutenant Joseph J. Backloupe was the first Ellis Countian to die in the service of his country during the direct involvement of the United States in World War II. His name is inscribed on the Waxahachie Daily Light Honor Roll and the Ellis County Veterans Memorial.

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