Air Commandos in Southeast Asia

by Larry Elton Fletcher

Shadows of Saigon brings alive the story of U.S. Air Commando covert Special Operations in Cambodia after the American Incursion in 1970. Attack C-119 Shadow gunships of 17th Special Operations Squadron’s Fighting C Flight stationed at Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Airport provide round-the-clock close air support for the newly formed Republic of Cambodia.


As current as todays headlines of the present Air Commandos operating their AC-130 Gunships in Afghanistan, Dr Fletcher's book is riviting. "Shadows of Saigon" is a thoroughly human story of people striving and sometimes surviving in the caldron of war. His treatment of the core characters emotions and feelings reflect the inner struggles of many at that time. But I think the strongest element of his book is the telling of the day to day activities of members of this special unit who had a unique mission. For the first time the story of the American effort to aid the Cambodians is brought to light. As this "Black" gunship operation aided the Cambodians, thousands of Communist troops were tied up in Cambodia and unquestionably reduced American casualties inside South Vietnam. Dr Fletcher's telling of the tale is very engaging. You can smell the smells of Saigon. You can see and feel the the experiences of combat at 1500 feet over Cambodia and life in Vietnam. Some day the whole story of the AC-130 operations in Afghanistan may be told. The story of young Americans engaged in warfare out of the spotlight. But for now we have this enlightening book of the Vietnam generation that speaks to many.

- Donald A. Craig (Lumberton, NJ, United States)