SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnamby John L. Plaster
SOG was the most secret elite U.S. military unit to serve in the war in Vietnam, so secret it was "black"-meaning its very existence was carefully concealed, even denied by the government. Innocuously codenamed the Studies and Observations Group, SOG contained only volunteers from such units as the Army Green Berets, USAF Air Commandos, and Navy SEALs, and answered… See more details below
SOG was the most secret elite U.S. military unit to serve in the war in Vietnam, so secret it was "black"-meaning its very existence was carefully concealed, even denied by the government. Innocuously codenamed the Studies and Observations Group, SOG contained only volunteers from such units as the Army Green Berets, USAF Air Commandos, and Navy SEALs, and answered directly to the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs, with some missions requiring approval from the White House. Inside Vietnam, only General William West-moreland and a few senior non-SOG officers were briefed on SOG activities. Now Major John L. Plaster, a three-tour SOG veteran, vividly recounts the never-before-revealed exploits.
SOG took on the most dangerous assignments, going behind enemy lines to penetrate North Vietnamese military facilities in Laos and Cambodia and along the heavily defended Ho Chi Minh Trail, where only air support-and sometimes no support at all-was available. As colorful as they were heroic, the men of SOG were bound together by their dedication. Though few in number, they were awarded ten Medals of Honor and hundreds of Purple Hearts. Their ranks included the war's most highly decorated unit, as well as the most highly decorated American soldier. Their storles, among the most extraordinary to come out of the Vietnam War, can now at last be told.
This Paladin reprint contains an exclusive new foreword by General John Singlaub, who served as Chief SOG from 1966 to 1968.
Retired US Army Maj. Plaster served for three years as a Studies and Observation Group (SOG) commando in Southeast Asia. His book is a combat-heavy, laudatory accounting of the SOG's little- known role in the Vietnam War. From 1964 to 1971, SOG teams, made up of specially trained American volunteers (mainly Green Berets) and South Vietnamese hill tribesmen (known as Montagnards), took part in hundreds of combat, reconnaissance, and rescue missions in North and South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Plaster tells this story with a minimal amount of historical background, relying heavily on detailed recreation of individual SOG missions. Those action-filled accounts are based on the author's personal war-zone experiences and on interviews he conducted with dozens of former SOG operatives. Plaster writes about successful and failed missions, but accentuates the positive in assessing SOG's impact on the war. SOG "logged a combat record unequaled in U.S. history," Plaster claims. He cites the number of medals the SOG units earned; the vast amount of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) arms and materiel the teams captured or destroyed; the valuable information they provided on NVA troop locations and movements; the courageous rescues of downed American pilots; and the large number of NVA soldiers killed by the teams and by American bombers using information provided by SOG. The teams' ratio of 150:1 enemy kills, Plaster says, "was the highest documented kill ratio of any American unit in the war, exceeding the average by a factor of ten, and quite likely is the highest such ratio in U.S. history."
Although short on documentation, this is the most comprehensive examination of widespread covert American actions during the Vietnam War.
- Simon & Schuster
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.43(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.08(d)
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