There is a song performed by Johnny Cash that I always enjoyed in younger days called Riders on the
I never associated it with a battlefield until a listener called in to tell me his story as a backender
(electronic Spook) for the USA.
After the end of World War Two there was a need to step up observations of the Russian government
and its military.
Three days before the end of WW2, August 29, 1945 the Russians were already shooting at our airplanes
In 1952 President Truman, through a Presidential Directive, (NOT an ACT of Congress) opened an office
called the National Security Agency. Without Congressional Oversite, our Electronic Spooks could
operate all over the world.
They operated between 100 fathoms deep in the waters and 100 miles in the air. An air crew would
consist of frontenders to fly the plane, and backenders behind closed doors to operate and perform
secret duties and mission. The backenders did not disclose what they were doing to the frontenders.
Their roles were totally separate, operating on a need to know basis.
Flight 60528 was shot down and crashed in Armenia. The Russians denied shooting the plane down. The
Americans denied doing anything wrong. Six frontenders died along with 11 backenders who were not
doing anything they should not have been doing according to both governments.
Over 200 air crew members died in service to their country working in these conditions. Walter
Cronkite, and Chet Huntley and David Brinkly would report the downed planes as training accidents.
200 gave their lives to test the responsiveness of the Russian military. If you listen to the news, you will
hear occasionally about Russia Planes doing the same to us in Alaska. Testing our responses.
These Cold War Warriors were sworn to silence. Their sources and methods protected above all else at
all costs. To disavow and misinform the public was a tactic to do the same to the enemy.
Tom Clancy called them SHADOW WARRIORS, the proper term would be: Silent Warriors. Routinely
crossing and entering into the teeth of our enemies. And when downed, reported as training accidents.
A backender was cargo to a frontender. A front ender a taxi to the backenders.
What is the make-up of this breed….
these strange and special few?
Where do they come from, year-on- year?
What is it that they do?
They are like shadows in the night
or vapor in the air
so seldom seen and rarely heard
but rest assured, they're there
They come not from a single place
they come from far and wide
the open plains, the city streets
the rural countryside
They are the farmer's little boy,
the girl who lived next door
the uncle of a high school friend
who gave his life at war
They are the barber's youngest child
who heard his country's call
or friends with whom we laughed and sipped
whose names are on "THE WALL"
And what they do, you needn't ask
for none will ever tell
in silence based on "need to know"
they proudly serve so well
They're much the same as all before
who vanquished freedom's foe
they are the ones who fuel the fire
which keeps THE TORCH aglow.