Shadow Commander: Remembering The Covert Commander Responsible For The Largest POW Rescue Mission In History
November 22, 2016
In Shadow Commander: The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn (Casemate Publishers), author Mike Guardia presents his readers with a memorable story of an underdog whose career was a testament to dogged determination and the will to stay alive.
On the evening of April 9, 1942, the fires on Bataan burned with a primitive fury, illuminating white flags of surrender against the dark sky.
Outnumbered and outgunned, remnants of the American-Philippine army surrendered to the forces of the Rising Sun.
Yet US Army Captain Donald D. Blackburn refused to lay down his arms.
With future Special Forces legend Russell Volckmann, Blackburn escaped to the jungles of North Luzon, raising a private army of 22,000 men against the Japanese.
His organization of native tribes into guerrilla fighters would lead to the destruction of the enemy’s naval base at Aparri.
But Blackburn’s remarkable accomplishments didn’t end with the victory in the Pacific.
He played a key role in initiating Army Special Forces operations in Southeast Asia, became commander of the 77th Special Forces Group and later took command of the highly classified Studies and Observations Group (SOG), charged with performing secret missions.
Blackburn also revitalized the Special Operations campaign in South Vietnam, conducting full-scale operations against the NVA and Viet Cong in Laos and Cambodia.
Following his return to the US, Blackburn was the architect of the infamous Son Tay Prison Raid, the largest prisoner-of-war rescue mission—and, indeed, the largest Army Special Forces operation—of the Vietnam War.