The Shadow

The fictional radio and comic book character - The student of science, master of other people's minds, he devotes his life to righting wrongs, protecting the innocent, and punishing the guilty. He is never seen, only heard; as haunting to superstitious minds as a ghost, as inevitable as a guilty conscience.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks Below the Jungle Canopy?

"The Shadow Knows"
Listen to the voice of the original 'Shadow'
- Who Knows - (Requires mp3 plug-in in your browser)

 Origin of the Shadow Graphic
by SSgt. Philip E. Bender

I was a part of the group that left Lockbourne AFB on 14 Dec 1968, and following a stop at Clark AFB, PI for Jungle Survival School, found myself in country on 21 Dec 1968. The first few days were spent in orientation, and settling down in the hotel at 49 DocLap St., in Nha Trang. Sergeants Robert Xanders, Melvin Fleenor, and Jimmy Bond are some of the names in that hotel, but we basically filled up at least one whole floor.

My first interest in the "Shadow" came at an early age through the "Shadow" radio program. When we heard of our call sign, an image came into my mind. I asked and received approval from Col. Pyle to apply my idea to "our" plane, which included the image of the shadow, with a circle in the center with a roman numeral III in it, and rays projected from this circle to the name "Shadow" below. The original design was disapproved by Col. Pyle as being too large, giving "Charlie" too much of a target at the front of the plane. A revised, more compact design was submitted and was approved, and a stencil was cut to allow the same insignia to be applied to each aircraft.

The "City of Columbus" used the larger art on the original aircraft, and was used in some P.R. photographs. The smaller art is shown in the book "Gunships".

Some of the squadron members may recall a series of Peanuts cartoons depicting some of the characters in situations relevant to everyday events in our stay in Country. I took some cartoons from the home newspaper, and posted a new cartoon each week. I only recall two, one of which dealt with a certain tall Capt. Navigator that would say "Prepare to Launch a Flare", and in a couple of seconds would say "Launch A Flare." This Capt. is now the Curator at the National Transportation Museum in Wash. D.C. (I wonder if anyone recalls his name.) The other cartoon depicted Lucy telling Charlie Brown that he should ask the newspaper editor when we were going home, they seemed to know all about us. I believe this was about the last of the cartoons, as we were to stand down shortly, and hand it over to the regulars. I am hopefull that this small effort on my part helped improve the morale in a difficult situation.

Air Force Reservist Phil Bender was an Illuminator Operator assigned to Lt. Col. John Lewis' crew based at Nha Trang.

Development of the Fixed Wing Gunships | AC-119G Successor units of the 71st SOS

Selection and Activation Chronology of the 71st  | Detailed Activation Description, by Col. James E. Pyle

Development of the "Shadow" Graphic, by Phil Bender | Development of the "Shadow" Calling Card by Al Reynolds

Lineage of the 71st | Flight Crew Roster, Mar 1969 | 71st SOS Mission in Review | Guest Book

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