Cover image for Secret commandos : behind enemy lines with the elite warriors of SOG
Secret commandos : behind enemy lines with the elite warriors of SOG
Plaster, John L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2004]

Physical Description:
366 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS558.92 .P547 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS558.92 .P547 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DS558.92 .P547 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Plaster gives a riveting first-person account of The Studies and Observations Group--or SOG--a top-secret group of elite warriors which was both the most highly-decorated unit and the one with the heaviest casualties during the Vietnam War.

Author Notes

John L. Plaster, U.S.A.R. (Ret.) served three one-year tours in SOG, eventually retiring as a major. He has instructed military snipers and has taught police SWAT officers sharpshooting techniques. Major Plaster has been honored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., for his contributions to recording the history of Special Forces. His book SOG won the Bernal Diaz award for military history. He lives in Iron River, Wisconsin.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

SOG was the Studies and Observations Group, a U.S. Army organization that operated behind enemy lines in the Vietnam War. It gathered intelligence and was responsible for rescuing downed pilots, identifying bombing targets, kidnapping enemy officers, wiretapping phone lines, ambushing convoys, and mining the Ho Chi Minh trail. Plaster shares details of his training in Fort Bragg as a Green Beret before being sent to Vietnam, where he served three one-year tours in SOG. He chronicles the group's operations and portrays the soldiers he worked with there. Some readers may find too much here about fighting a war that many people today believe should have never happened, but the book nonetheless is an intriguing first-person account of this elite group's intrepid operations. --George Cohen Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Despite the many special-ops chronicles of recent ?walk-overs? in the Middle East, the Vietnam war is still the mythic heartland of great commando literature. A case in point is this gripping memoir of the Studies and Observations Group, a Green Beret unit specializing in secret reconnaissance forays into Laos and Cambodia. Plaster, author of SOG, recounts his own and his comrades? exploits leading eight-man teams of indigenous mercenaries behind North Vietnamese lines to scout targets, sabotage trucks, take prisoners and generally maraud those along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Lavish with the details of weaponry, training, commando procedures and sheer gore (?Belletire?s fingers felt for the wound, touched his exposed brain and induced a convulsion?), he serves up countless nerve-wracking war-stories, as the SOG soldiers stalk and are stalked by their more numerous adversaries. Nor does he stint on the romance of warrior bonding, regaling readers with his buddies? hard-partying hijinks, their solidarity against stuffed-shirt officers, and their somber mourning rituals singing the memory of comrades fallen in wild fire-fights. Clearly enthralled with the commando war, Plaster inadvertently conveys its problems. In many cases, the SOG reconnaissance teams were quickly found and attacked by the North Vietnamese and had to be choppered out under massive air strikes, with few results to show for their efforts (and casualties). Even as it celebrates one of the more heroic sideshows in the American war in Vietnam, Plaster?s vivid combat memoir is a microcosm of what can be its tragic futility. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Mapsp. xii
Author's Notep. 1
Part 1 Fort Braggp. 3
Part 2 Reconp. 25
Part 3 Coveyp. 267
Afterwordp. 345
Indexp. 351