Origin of the Shadow
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
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.