Glenn Dickenson is an Army veteran that spent more than 14 months dodging bullets and shrapnel as a crew chief and door gunner in Vietnam. The fearless patriot from Sparta, Wis, flew more than 1,100 missions in his beloved UH-1 Huey Helicopter that was affectionately named “Tombstone Shadow” by Dickenson and his team. He was careful not to form relationships with any of the men he served with but he couldn’t help but fall in love with the machine that saved his life on countless occasions. He has been searching for the very helicopter he rode in while serving. He recently thought he found it after searching for 45 years.
Dickenson was never very optimistic about finding the Tombstone Shadow. He remembers many of them being dumped into the ocean towards the end of the conflict. Fortunately, Dickeson has learned after years of research that his chopper returned to the United States safely. It was used by the Florida Forest Service and a National Guard Unit in Pennsylvania. Reviewing military documents with a fine-toothed comb for decades had finally paid off, or so he thought. Dickenson was convinced the Tombstone Shadow was in Kankakee, Ill.
Shortly after determining the location of the alleged helicopter he was in his truck and on his way to Illinois National Guard headquarters where the helicopter was on display. Dickenson knows the serial number of the Tombstone Shadow, 68-16591, better than most people know their own phone numbers. He was upset to discover that the helicopter in Illinois had two numbers transposed. He expected to find the Tombstone Shadow but instead found an aircraft bearing the serial number 68-15691, only two digits away from his beloved helicopter.
Dickenson wasn’t visibly upset that he found the wrong aircraft. He referred to the helicopter as a fellow veteran. He touched the helicopter and remarked that it wasn’t the same aircraft that once sported 168 bullet holes. He shed blood in the Tombstone Shadow when he was hit by a piece of shrapnel and seems intent on finding the correct helicopter that shares his scars and once bore his blood.
After leaving the Illinois National Guard headquarters Dickenson returned home to continue his search and remains determined to find the Tombstone Shadow.