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Raven Forward Air Controllers

Beginning in 1966, USAF pilots with a minimum of six months of combat experience in South Vietnam as forward air controllers were eligible to apply for the classified Steve Canyon Program.

Using the call sign Raven, these pilots mostly flew unmarked armed Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs, wore civilian clothes, and carried no military identification. They supported indigenous troops in Laos opposing North Vietnamese invaders, and often flew with "backseaters" or Robins, provided by local commanders.

The Ravens were stationed in all five of the Military Regions (MR) within Laos. At most, only twenty-one Ravens were allowed in country at any given time due to the secrecy of the program and the need to minimize America’s involvement.

During the war, 192 USAF officers served as Ravens with twenty-two Ravens killed in action. No Raven was ever taken prisoner. However, their loss rate was near twelve percent, one of the highest for any USAF unit during the war.

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