Vietnam War Bibliography:

SOG

James E. Acre, Project Omega: Eye of the Beast. Central Point, OR: Hellgate, 1999. xi, 216 pp. Acre joined the Special Forces in 1968, and served in Vietnam with CCS from early 1969 to early 1970.

Lee Burkins, Soldier's Heart: An Inspirational Memoir and Inquiry of War. 1stBooks, 2003. 308 pp. Burkins, a sergeant, was in Vietnam 1969-1970, with the 5th Special Forces Group and then SOG. He operated out of CCC with RT Vermont. He ended up with PTSD.

John T. Correll, "Flak Trap". Air Force Magazine 89:10 (October 2006), pp. 46-50. PAVN forces caught SOG recon team Massachusetts west of Khe Sanh November 8, 1967, and ambushed the helicopters that came to extract the team.

Kenneth J. Conboy and Dale Andradé, Spies and Commandos: How America Lost the Secret War in North Vietnam. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. x, 347 pp. A very good study, covering covert operations against North Vietnam run by the CIA from 1954 onward as well as those run by SOG from 1964 onward.

Henry G. Gole, Soldiering: Observations from Korea, Vietnam, and Safe Places. Potomac Books, 2005. xxiv, 254 pp. Gole, who eventually retired as a colonel, was in 5th Special Forces 1966-67, and at Kontum with CCC of SOG 1969-1970.

Frank Greco, Running Recon: A Photo Journey with SOG Special Ops Along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Foreword by John Plaster. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 2004. xvi, 429 pp. Greco was with SOG at CCC from April 1969 to April 1970, initially with RT Colorado, doing missions into Laos and Cambodia, and later running the photo shop. Extensively illustrated.

Frank Greco, Kontum: Command and Control: Select Photographs of SOG Special Ops During the Vietnam War. Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2005. 80 pp.

Walter J. Jackson, Shades of Daniel Boone: A Pesonal View of Special Ops and the War in Vietnam. Westminster, MD: Eagle Editions, 2005. ix, 153 pp.

Pete Lawrence, "Personality: Left for dead after the valiant defense of a radio relay site, Jon Cavaiani survived 18 months as a POW in Hanoi. Vietnam Magazine, October 1997, pp. 8, 68-70. Staff Sergeant Cavaiani was in command of outpost "Hickory" on Hill 1015, just east of Khe Sanh, with 50 Bru Montagnards and 11 other Americans. The outpost had various functions--artillery forward observation, radio relay, monitoring of sensors, and observation of a wide area. It was hit by a heavy PAVN attack on June 4, 1971. When the outpost was overrun early on June 5, he managed to evade, but was captured days later before he could reach an American position. Believed dead, he had been awarded the Medal of Honor "posthumously" by the time he was released in 1973.

MACSOG Command History. SOG's annual command histories were nominally appendices to the annual MACV Command History, but were not distributed with the rest of that publication. Some of them, sanitized, have been published in the private sector (see below under Reske). One has been placed online in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University.

MACSOG Documentation Study, July 10, 1970. Important portions have been available for many years in the Sedgwick Tourison Papers, in Record Group 46, National Archives. Some portions have been placed online in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University.

John Stryker Meyer, Across the Fence: The Secret War in Vietnam. Real War Stories, 2003. xvi, 246 pp. "Tilt" Meyer was with RT Idaho, mostly based at Phu Bai and going into Laos, but some missions into Cambodia.

John Stryker Meyer and John E. Peters, On the Ground: The Secret War in Vietnam. Oceanside, CA: Levin Publishing Group, 2007. xii, 288 pp.

Franklin D. Miller, with Elwood J.C. Kureth, Reflections of a Warrior. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1991. Miller served six tours in Indochina, mostly with MACV-SOG, between 1966 and 1972. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor for a January 1970 action in which he was leading RT Vermont. He gives the impression the action was in Laos, just north of Cambodia in the Triborder area; Plaster says it was in Cambodia. I am more inclined to believe Miller; his description of the details of the operation really looks to me more like something that would have happened in Laos than like something that would have happened in Cambodia.

Thom [Thomas L.] Nicholson, 15 Months in SOG: A Warrior's Tour. New York: Ivy, 1999. 260 pp. Nicholson, an Army Special Forces Captain, was assigned to CCN, based at Danang, in August 1968. He eventually commanded CCN's raider company. The lack of dates in the book is annoying.

Joe Parnar and Robert Dumont, SOG Medic: Stories from Vietnam and Over the Fence. Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 2007. xvi, 147 pp. Parnar was a Special Forces medic who served at Command and Control Central (Kontum) and on recon teams, 1968-69.

Stephen Perry, Bright Light: Untold Stories of the Top Secret War in Vietnam. Booklocker.com, 2010. 148 pp. Perry was a Special Forces medical specialist who served with SOG.

John L. Plaster, SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. 367 pp. A general history of SOG. Maj. Plaster himself served three tours in SOG, and he interviewed a great many other men who had served. I have looked at only the first chapter, which was not very accurate, but I assume that once he gets closer to the things in which he was personally involved, he will get better.

John L. Plaster, Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. 366 pp. This is focused much more closely on Plaster's own experiences than the preceding item was.

John L. Plaster, SOG: A Photo History of the Secret Wars.  Boulder, CO: Paladin, 2000.  viii, 485 pp.

Charles F. Reske, ed., MACVSOG Command History, Annexes A, N & M (1964-1966). Sharon Center, OH: Alpha Press, 1992. 174 pp.

Charles F. Reske, ed., MAC-V-SOG Command History, Annex B, 1971-1972, 2 vols. Sharon Center, OH: Alpha Press, 1990. 756 pp. A very fragmentary copy of this, with more than two-thirds of the pages missing, has been placed online in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University, in five parts: Front matter and pp. 1-53, pp. 62-346, pp. 347-479, pp. 480-690, pp. 691-706.

Harve Saal, SOG: MACV Studies and Observations Group (Behind Enemy Lines). Milwaukee: Jones Techno-Comm, 1990. 4 vols. Badly organized, but contains much useful information.

Steve [Stephen] Sherman, Who's Who from MACV-SOG. Houston: Radix Press, 1996. 580 pp.

Richard H. Shultz, Jr., The Secret War Against Hanoi: Kennedy's and Johnson's Use of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors In North Vietnam. New York: HarperCollins, 1999. xvii, 408 pp. This looks like an extremely important study. Shultz had extraordinary access to information, for a civilian scholar. The commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command helped him get documents declassified, and encouraged retired officers who had served in SOG to give him interviews. Note: The author's name is Shultz. I have repeatedly seen it mis-spelled as Schultz, in one case by his publisher in publicity for the book.

Richard H. Shultz, Jr., "The Great Divide: Strategy and Covert Action in Vietnam." Joint Force Quarterly, no. 23 (Autumn/Winter 2000), pp. 90-96. An abridged version of Chapter 7 of the previous item. Argues that the U.S. military leadership never saw great value in SOG, and the sort of covert operations it conducted.

Major General John K. Singlaub, with Malcolm McConnell, Hazardous Duty: An American Soldier in the Twentieth Century. New York: Summit Books, 1991. 574 pp. Singlaub arrived in Vietnam in April 1966, as commander of SOG.

Sedgwick D. Tourison, Jr., Secret Army, Secret War: Washington's Tragic Spy Operation in Vietnam. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995. xxvii, 389 pp. Paperback under the title Project Alpha New York: St. Martin's, 1997. The dismal failure of programs to infiltrate agent teams into North Vietnam, begun by CIA and continued after 1964 by SOG.

LTC Robert L. Turkoly-Joczik, "Secrecy and Stealth: Cross-Border Reconnaissance in Indochina." Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin, 25:3 (July-September 1999), pp. 47-52.
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Robert Van Buskirk and Fred Bauer, Tailwind: A True Story. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983. 216 pp. pb Dallas, TX: Acclaimed Books, n.d. 216 pp. The first part of the book contained the story (some names changed) of Operation TAILWIND, a raid into Laos by a SOG hatchet team in September 1970, in which Van Buskirk participated. There were a bunch of obvious inaccuracies and gross implausibilities. I particularly like the 120mm Gatling gun on the C-130 gunship, and the claim that there would have been no chance of getting back to the Vietnamese border on foot because the team was "probably a good 200 miles into Laos" (p. 48). 200 miles from the Vietnamese border would have been well into Thailand.
        In June 1998, Van Buskirk appeared on a CNN documentary about TAILWIND, testifying that killing American defectors had been a goal of the operation. But there had not been anything about defectors in Van Buskirk's book. The documentary also said that sarin nerve gas had been used in the operation. Van Buskirk's book did say that gas had been dropped to cover the withdrawal of the team, but did not suggest sarin or any nerve gas; the description in the book clearly would have represented Adamsite (DM), an incapacitating agent that caused intense nausea, occasionally used by U.S. forces during the war.

For further information relating to Operation Tailwind see The "Tailwind" Affair

Information about SOG and the men who served in it can also be found under Army Special Forces

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Copyright © 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, Edwin E. Moise. This document may be reproduced only by permission. Revised August 28, 2012.