Don Baccus was born on May 29, 1916, in Jamestown, North Dakota. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on August 14, 1940, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, on March 15, 1941. His first assignment was as an instructor pilot and gunnery instructor at Randolph Field and Foster Field, Texas, from March 1941 to April 1943, followed by service with the 322nd Fighter Squadron of the 356th Fighter Group from May to June 1943. Maj Baccus then served as Commander of the 359th Fighter Squadron of the 356th Fighter Group, deploying with the unit to England in November 1943. Col Baccus became Deputy Commander of the 356th Fighter Group in April 1944, and Commander of the 356th in November 1944. He reverted back to Deputy Commander of the 356th in January 1945, and then served as Commander of the 359th Fighter Group from April to September 1945, followed by occupation duty in Germany until returning to the U.S. in August 1946. During his time with the 356th Fighter Group, Col Baccus was credited with the destruction of 5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 2 damaged, and another 4 destroyed on the ground while strafing enemy airfields. His next assignment was as a Liaison Officer in Washington, D.C., from November 1946 to August 1947, followed by Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1947 to June 1948. Col Baccus served at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from June 1948 to June 1949, and then served as an exchange officer with the Royal Air Force in Middlesex, England, from July 1949 to May 1951. He served on the staff of Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from June 1951 to April 1953, followed by service as Commander of the 405th Fighter-Bomber Group at Langley AFB from April 1953 to July 1954. He attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB from August 1954 to June 1955, and then served as Executive Officer for the 3565th Navigator Training Wing at James Connally AFB, Texas, from July 1955 to March 1957. Col Baccus served on the staff of Headquarters 5th Air Force at Fuchu AS, Japan, from March 1957 to March 1959, and then sered as Deputy Commander of the 39th Air Division at Misawa AB, Japan, from April to May 1959. He next served as Base Commander at Misawa AB from June 1959 to March 1961, followed by service as Deputy Commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Ground Operations School, first at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, from March 1961 to December 1962, and then at Hurlburt Field, Florida, from December 1962 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 1, 1965. Don Baccus died on April 28, 1986, and was buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action while leading a Fighter Group escorting heavy bombers over Germany, 26 November 1944. A few minutes after making rendezvous, enemy aircraft were reported in the vicinity and Colonel Baccus, with his Group, set up a vigilant patrol. Observing a large number of fighters preparing to attack, he skillfully positioned his squadrons between the enemy and the bombers. Then, leading a Flight, he launched a daring assault against approximately twenty-five (25) ME-109's. During the ensuing battle, he became separated from the Group but was successful in destroying two (2) enemy fighters before breaking off the attack. Still alone and low on ammunition, he rejoined the bombers, and finding them unescorted, went over the target with them and escorted them back to the coast. The fact that during this action, his Group destroyed twenty-three (23), probably destroyed one (1) and damaged nine (9) aircraft is a tribute to Colonel Baccus' peerless leadership and unsurpassed combat skill.