Until recently, little was known or published about MACV-SOG, an elite US Special Forces reconnaissance unit in Vietnam. SOG was under joint command by 5th Special Forces Group and CIA with an objective to recon and disrupt the Ho Chi Minh trail by running cross-border operations into denied areas, primarily Laos and Cambodia. SOG recon teams were small, typically 6 to 8 men. They had a 1-0 (pronounced “One Zero”) who was the team leader, a 1-1 assistant team leader, and a 1-2 radioman. The remaining personnel were indigenous mercenaries. Depending on region, they could be Chinese Nungs, Montagnards, Cambodes, or Vietnamese.
The 1-0 was a leader with innate skill coupled with experience. Rank was irrelevant on SOG teams. Being “good in the woods” is what ultimately determined survival or failure. 1-0’s commanded respect from all of the Special Forces community. The 1-0 jacket was a symbol worn at camp to distinguish themselves from other SOG personnel. The 1-0 jacket was awarded to 1-0’s after completion of the Recon Team Leader course at Long Than. Initially, they were intended to be worn in the field. Photographic evidence verifies this. However, the nylon material was noisy in the brush, so 1-0’s opted to wear them in camp only. Often times, jackets were modified with direct embroidery bearing the wearers name and SOG related themes like recon team names, “shell burst” skulls, etc.
There were three patterns of 1-0 jacket. The first pattern (shown here) is a pull over with a removable hood. There are two front slash pockets, single snap cuffs, and a rear map pocket in the lower back with a snap closure. There is a small oilskin tagged marked “M” inside the hood and collar to denote size (medium). The second and third patterns are not pullover and do not have a removable hood. SOG was a relatively small unit, so these jackets are extremely rare and often overlooked as being a simple windbreaker.
Chris Hughes is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in 20th century militaria and the owner of Rally Point Militaria and Vietnam Uniform – Military Collectibles sites.