Larry Elton Fletcher joined the U.S. Air Force in June of 1968 after having graduated from Missouri State University with a B.S. in Education in 1965, receiving his M.E. from the University of Missouri in 1966, and teaching high school for two years. He was a newly minted second lieutenant by September, and received his pilot’s wings in November of 1969.
Fletcher (above ) arrived in Vietnam in May of 1970 and served with the 17th Special Operations Squadron at Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon. Among other things, he flew 177 combat missions over Cambodia co-piloting and later piloting AC-119 “Shadow” gunships.
Fletcher relates the history of the those fixed-wing, twin-engine, side-firing gunships in the Vietnam War in Charlie Chasers: History of USAF AC-119 ‘Shadow’ Gunships in the Vietnam War (Hellgate Press, 328 pp., $34.95, hardcover; $24.95, paper).
The book is filled with plenty of technical details about the planes—which provided close fire support for troops on the ground—and those who flew them. It also includes extended first-person accounts from Fletcher’s fellow pilots, navigators, and other AC-119 personnel.
The author’s website is www.shadowgunships.com