Steve Cowan is an agent with U.S. Army Intelligence.
He is first and foremost a pilot and that is all he wants to be; he has no interest in the spy game whatsoever and has been happy hauling cargo all across Southeast Asia since he decided years before the South Pacific was where he should ply his trade. He first came to this tropical, steamy part of the world in 1937 and would have continued to make his living bouncing on the usually dusty runways while not getting involved in politics or international troubles, had he been allowed, flying express cargo and mail all over the thousands of islands in that region using his amphibian plane.
Unfortunately, the arrival in the area of the Japanese has made that a moot point, especially for an American, and from the time that nation invaded Indochina in 1940, finding steady work was impossible. This is likely one of the reasons he had offered his services to the British in New Caledonia even before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
British Major Garnett was the Military Intelligence officer who first approaches Cowan to lend a bit of assistance. "You're a civilian," he says to Cowan, "but you volunteered for duty" and now there is need of someone with his flying skills and his fair knowledge of the region below Sumatra. It would be after that first mission for Garnett that Cowan made it official and was given a commission as he "acted as a secret messenger and undercover agent for the Allies".
Cowan has his personal nemesis in the form of Besi John Mataga, a "renegade" in Cowan's opinion, when he is being polite. In the two short adventures we have of Cowan he has had the misfortune of going up against that particularly unpleasant and vicious man twice. Luckily, Cowan is partial to having personal protection available at all times, this coming in the form of a .45 Colt automatic in his belt and a .38 "strapped to his lef inside his trousers", and with Mataga cropping up now and then, both are much in need.