Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG

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Simon and Schuster, 2004 - History - 366 pages
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The leading historian of SOG, the elite commando unit in Vietnam, tells the astonishing story of the SOG warriors who penetrated enemy lines in operations directed at the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The warriors of SOG -- code-named the Studies and Observations Group -- were a secret operations force in Vietnam, the forerunner of today's Delta Force and SEALs. Highly skilled Green Berets, they were the bravest of the brave, the most highly decorated unit in the war. Chief among their activities was observing the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the main North Vietnamese supply route into South Vietnam, and disrupting its operations. SOG warriors secretly penetrated deep into Laos and Cambodia to identify bombing targets, destroy troops, ambush trucks, mine roads, and, in their most difficult assignment, capture North Vietnamese soldiers for intelligence purposes.

Operating in the most dangerous conditions imaginable -- always outnumbered, often by as much as 100 to 1 -- SOG commandos matched wits with an un-relenting foe that hunted them with trackers and dogs. They suffered an extraordinarily high casualty rate. Ten entire teams disappeared and another fourteen were overrun and annihilated. Many of the missions run by SOG fighters were rescues and attempted rescues of fellow soldiers and downed helicopter pilots who supported SOG missions.

In Secret Commandos, a riveting account of his years in SOG from 1969 to 1971, John Plaster describes his own remarkable covert missions as well as those of dozens of his comrades. He takes readers from his grueling training for SOG to his heart-stopping first assignments to his experiences as a SOG veteran and team leader. Even as SOG's field of operations became more limited late in the war, these accomplished warriors continued to give their all, fighting for each other.

The leading historian of SOG, the elite commando unit in Vietnam, tells the astonishing story of the SOG warriors who penetrated enemy lines in operations directed at the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The warriors of SOG -- code-named the Studies and Observations Group -- were a secret operations force in Vietnam, the forerunner of today's Delta Force and SEALs. Highly skilled Green Berets, they were the bravest of the brave, the most highly decorated unit in the war. Chief among their activities was observing the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the main North Vietnamese supply route into South Vietnam, and disrupting its operations. SOG warriors secretly penetrated deep into Laos and Cambodia to identify bombing targets, destroy troops, ambush trucks, mine roads, and, in their most difficult assignment, capture North Vietnamese soldiers for intelligence purposes.

Operating in the most dangerous conditions imaginable -- always outnumbered, often by as much as 100 to 1 -- SOG commandos matched wits with an un-relenting foe that hunted them with trackers and dogs. They suffered an extraordinarily high casualty rate. Ten entire teams disappeared and another fourteen were overrun and annihilated. Many of the missions run by SOG fighters were rescues and attempted rescues of fellow soldiers and downed helicopter pilots who supported SOG missions.

In Secret Commandos, a riveting account of his years in SOG from 1969 to 1971, John Plaster describes his own remarkable covert missions as well as those of dozens of his comrades. He takes readers from his grueling training for SOG to his heart-stopping first assignments to his experiences as a SOG veteran and team leader. Even as SOG's field of operations became more limited late in the war, these accomplished warriors continued to give their all, fighting for each other.

 

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Secret commandos: behind enemy lines with the elite warriors of SOG

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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 ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

John I. 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.

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