The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn
Shadow Commander: Remembering The Covert Commander Responsible For The Largest POW Rescue Mission In History
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.
During a period when US troops in Southeast Asia faced guerrilla armies on every side, America had a superb covert commander of its own. This book follows Blackburn through both his youthful days of desperate combat and his time as a commander, imparting his lessons to the new ranks of Army Special Forces.
An internationally-recognized author and military historian, Mike Guardia is also a veteran of the United States Army. He served six years on active duty as an Armor Officer. He is the author of the widely-acclaimed Hal Moore: A Soldier Once…and Always, the first-ever biography chronicling the life of Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore, whose leadership was popularized in the film We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson. As a lecturer, Mike Guardia has given presentations at the US Special Operations Command and the George Bush (41) Presidential Library. He holds a BA and MA in American History from the University of Houston and currently resides in Texas.
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Shadow Commander: The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn
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World War II Magazine: “A follow-up to a fine bio of Russell Volckmann, this tale of guerrilla warfare spans from Bataan to Vietnam.”
Book News: “Donald D. Blackburn’s involvement in guerilla warfare against the Japanese in WWII qualified him to become one of the first commanders of the Special Forces. For this career biography, the author conducted personal interviews with Blackburn and his family in 2008, with access to all of Blackburn’s personal papers, documents, photos, and his war diary from 1941-1944.”
Miniature Wargames UK: “…very well researched and readable account of one man’s fascinating military career, which was rarely spent far from where the action was.”
Military Writer’s Society Of America: “An excellent biography of one of the Army’s lesser known but very important leaders. Blackburn’s activities in World War II alone would make him a hero, but the author goes on to cite in some detail Blackburn’s other contributions in Viet Nam as well as to the evolution of Army Special Forces. The author’s detailed accounts of Blackburn’s activities make this book a must read for anyone interested in military history, World War II, and particularly for anyone studying or who simply enjoys reading about guerilla warfare or Army Special Forces.”