MACV Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) Details
Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) was a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations prior to and during the Vietnam War.
Established on 24 January 1964, the unit conducted strategic reconnaissance missions in Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), Laos, and Cambodia; carried out the capture of enemy prisoners, rescued downed pilots, and conducted rescue operations to retrieve prisoners of war throughout Southeast Asia; and conducted clandestine agent team activities and psychological operations.
The unit participated in most of the significant campaigns of the Vietnam War, including the Tonkin Gulf Incident which precipitated American involvement, Operation Steel Tiger, Operation Tiger Hound, the Tet Offensive, Operation Commando Hunt, the Cambodian Campaign, Operation Lam Son 719, and the Easter Offensive. The unit was formally disbanded and replaced by the Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team 158 on 1 May 1972.
At its peak, SOG had about 2,000 members. An estimated 7,800 men served in SOG over its eight-year existence. Some SOG veterans, such as Dick Meadows, Eldon Bargewell and Walt Shumate, became founders and leaders of Delta Force, the Army's counterterrorism and hostage- rescue unit founded in 1977.
SOG members received more than 2,000 individual awards for heroism, including 10 Medals of Honor, twice as many as the 82nd Airborne Division received in both world wars.
Medal of Honor recipients were Robert L. Howard, James P. Fleming, Roy P. Benavidez, Jon R. Cavaiani, Franklin Miller, Fred Zabitosky, Thomas R. Norris, Loren D. Hagen, John J. Kedenburg and George K. Sisler.
The unit's members also received 23 Distinguished Service Crosses, the military's second highest award for valor.
SOG had high casualty rates. In 1968, the unit had more people killed and injured than it had positions.
Ten teams were lost. Fourteen teams were overrun or destroyed. Fifty members of SOG are still considered MIAs.