The secretive world of military "special operations" is filled with men and women whose dedication, self-sacrifice, and heroism on behalf of their country is seldom acknowledged in public. If John Stuart Mill could come to America a century after his historic judgment to meet such men and women, he would almost certainly understand their modern-day stories without a moment's confusion. Attempting to capture the history of USAF special operations from the beginning of the cold war to the end of the Second Indochina War is an exercise in humility the historian's worst nightmare in some respects. The clandestine or covert nature of their worldwide operations, their need (and talent) for deceptive cover stories, and their support to intelligence agencies and special forces of US and foreign countries all combine at different times and places to mislead the unwary researcher. For reasons which the reader will soon appreciate, I have intentionally avoided the temptation to record every operation, aircraft tail number and type, and technical detail of various weapons and pieces of relevant equipment I encountered in my research. Such a huge collection of dry material would serve no useful purpose with the possible exception of its use as a cure for insomnia. Hopefully of much more interest to the reader is the discovery of many dramatic events that bring new insights into that momentous phase of American history known chiefly by the misnomer "cold war." The story of USAF special operations during the cold war is not a neutral subject. These unconventional warfare specialists have consistently inspired their supporters and infuriated their detractors. And as the record shows, there have been plenty of both supporters and detractors in places as ideologically diverse as the Pentagon and the Kremlin.