Sog: Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam

Overview

Major John L. Plaster, a three-tour veteran of Vietnam tells the story of the most highly classified United States covert operatives to serve in the war: The Studies and Observations Group, code-named SOG. Comprised of volunteers from such elite military units as the Army's Green Berets, the USAF Air Commandos, and Navy SEALs, SOG agents answered directly to the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs, with some missions requiring approval from the White House. Now for the first time, the dangerous assignments of this top-secret...

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Overview

Major John L. Plaster, a three-tour veteran of Vietnam tells the story of the most highly classified United States covert operatives to serve in the war: The Studies and Observations Group, code-named SOG. Comprised of volunteers from such elite military units as the Army's Green Berets, the USAF Air Commandos, and Navy SEALs, SOG agents answered directly to the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs, with some missions requiring approval from the White House. Now for the first time, the dangerous assignments of this top-secret unit can at last be revealed!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Plaster (The Ultimate Sniper), a retired Army major, served three tours with the secretive "Studies and Observation Group," aka SOG, during the Vietnam War-a background he has put to good use in this authoritative and insightful look at the now defunct commando unit. Plaster does much to illuminate both this frequently misunderstood group and its extraordinary participants. Made up entirely of volunteers, SOG tackled a wide range of vital and dangerous duties, including missions deep into enemy territory and rescues of downed American pilots. Special Forces veterans in particular will delight in the descriptions of America's old tribal allies, the Montagnards of Vietnam. Specialists in poison-arrow warfare, the primitive "'Yards," Plaster explains, were both fierce fighters and a constant source of wonderment to the Americans. Plaster reveals the core of the relationship between 'Yards and Yanks in a telling anecdote in which two Green Berets win over a village chieftain with the help of some pipes and two cans of Prince Albert tobacco. Elsewhere, on a more somber note, Plaster sheds light on part of the ongoing mystery of POWs and MIAs in Southeast Asia. The secretive nature of SOG, he writes, was such that its members were accounted for via a "double bookkeeping" system. The method "proved so confounding that the Pentagon had understated casualties, a fact that became evident when families of MIAs demanded more information." A true insider's account, this eye-opening report will leave readers feeling as if they've been given a hot scoop on a highly classified project. Photos not seen by PW. Military Book Club main selection. (Jan.)
Library Journal
For all the negative imagery attached to Americans who served in Vietnam, an unbiased and sober review of the historical accounts reveals an astonishing record of valor and sacrifice. Largely unknown outside of military circles, the Studies and Observation Group (SOG) was a U.S. Special Forces detachment formed to penetrate the Ho Chi Minh Trail and to rescue downed airmen. Plaster (Ultimate Sniper, Paladin, 1993), a veteran of three tours of duty with SOG, has written the most complete account of the missions to date. Together with their Montagnard and Nung allies, these small-raiding, observation, and rescue parties were inserted within enemy strongholds on uniformly perilous missions. Always outnumbered, SOG volunteers suffered catastrophic casualty rates. They also earned ten Congressional Medals of Honor. Written as a tribute to the memory of fallen comrades, Plaster's narrative is an engrossing and thoroughly exciting account of this unknown aspect of the Vietnam War. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.-John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
A heavily anecdotal recounting of the covert, behind-enemy- lines operations undertaken by American special forces during the height of the war in Vietnam.

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451195081
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 609,299
  • Product dimensions: 4.33 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

Maps: SOG's Theater of Operations 12

1 Colby's Secret War 17

2 Shining Brass 29

3 First Blood 43

4 Code Name Bright Light 60

5 Prairie Fire 74

6 Daniel Boone 95

7 SOG's Darh Arts 116

8 Run Through The Jungle 131

9 The Snatchers 154

10 Bloody 68 175

11 A Pale Blue Ribbon 196

12 Through The Loohing Glass 218

13 Daniel Boone Again 232

14 Guns of The Hatchet Forces 251

15 The Searchers 272

16 Fighting Soldiers From The Shy 290

17 SOG Stands Alone 313

Afterword 339

Glossary 343

Bibliography 349

Index 353

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2007

    Unbelievable true military action

    I couldn't put this book down and was sad to come to the end of it. Now I know what happened to a lot of American MIAs in the Vietnam war. It's amazing what the U.S. Government don't tell us. I would give this book a 10 plus.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2012

    no comment.....

    no comment.....

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  • Posted August 9, 2010

    Amazing

    This book was great. It had more names and unit details then I'm used to but after I got used to it I moved right along. Just a powerful book detailing the sacrifices and tactics of unsung heroes.
    I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand that part of the war.

    I also recommend; The Village, Five Years to Freedom, & An Enormous Crime.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2004

    Excellent Historical Reading

    SOG by John L. Plaster is a well researched and exciting book about special commando operations in Vietnam. SOG is short for Studies and Observation Group, a name created to confuse the VietCong and North Vietnamese. This book is writen by a military historian about the SOG group. This means unlike other Vietnam books by former soldiers, this book has no boring childhood story or boring training stories - this book is all pure action filled history of the SOG. The book tells how the SOG was born and the major operations (Prairie Fire, Daniel Boone, Bright Light). Very rich in historical content and action packed book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2003

    God Bless The Men Of The SOG!!

    This book grabs you by the belt buckle and throws you for a loop. This book is great. I could hardly put it down after I finished my reading selection. Since my Grandpa is a WWII Vet., he has inspired me to read War Novels. And this one land on my high pedestal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2001

    Patriotic Inspiration

    John Plaster has written a brilliant account from personal, heartfelt experience. No coffee table will gather dust if this book is on it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2001

    SOG and Heroism

    This book is brilliant. I find it highly inspiring and find these men to be true heros of war. Special Forces are the ideal soldiers and this book shows why.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2001

    Heart-Racer

    If this book won't break, build, and repair a reader's heart, nothing will. Many congratulations on the true accounts and life-threatening and exhilirating, heart-pounding stories contained in this remarkable book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2000

    Thanks for the memories...

    It has been over 30 years since I left CCN, SOG's northern arm in South Vietnam. This book, to whose veracity and authenticity I can attest, is more than a history book to those of us who participated in SOG. It is a well written, factual vehicle for transporting us back to that time. Memories become fuzzy with age, but this book helps focus them, with references to men, places, exploits. Thank you, Maj. Plaster.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2000

    Best war book ever made!!!

    Very indepth. Cool stories. Recommend to any war book fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2000

    Excellent Story of True Courage

    I can't say enough about how brave and dedicated some of the soldiers (and other servicemen) were. This book is a must-read for those who don't know the whole story of what happened in Vietnam. The undaunting courage and the astronomical risk undertaken by some of those men is to say the least inspiring. These heroes deserve to be recognized, and they are in this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2000

    the review for SOG is here!!

    its good:)

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    Posted June 15, 2010

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