The vague sounding name belies what was, at its inception, one of the most exclusive charitable organizations created. At the first Studies and Observations Group (SOG) reunion on Christmas Eve, 1971 at the Fort Devens Rod and Gun Club SOG veteran Jim Butler realized the unique need to formalize an official organization to maintain their special brotherhood and support one another in their post war lives. Having signed a 20 year non-disclosure agreement, the men of MACV-SOG, a name still classified at the time, couldn’t tell their friends, families, or even their fellow Green Berets and veterans about their experiences in some of the most intense and dangerous activities of the Vietnam war. After Vietnam the men of SOG pursued varied careers. Some returned to working the land as farmers and ranchers, others became teachers, linemen, veterans advocates and counselors, journalists, authors, security contractors, etc., while others stayed in the military. For these men the SOA and the support of their fellow veterans was instrumental in processing and coming to terms with what was a conflict largely defined by controversy and it undoubtedly saved many of the lives of these veterans.
Given the clandestine nature of its membership the organization grew by word of mouth. Jim Butler officially incorporated the SOA in 1976. Prospective members were vetted by SOG veterans as their membership at the time was not as broad as the name would suggest. The group was originally composed of SOG veterans and shortly thereafter to also include SOG support activities personnel, such as the helicopter pilots of the 20th SOS that flew for SOG. After MACV-SOG was declassified and awarded the Presidential Unit Citation in 2001, eligibility in the organization was expanded to welcome all qualified members of the SOCOM community and now includes combat veterans from all wars including WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, the Balkans, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan.
This all volunteer organization is dedicated to commemorating those KIA/MIA in defense of the Free World and to foster and perpetuate the goodwill and esprit de corps within the Special Operations community. Toward that end the SOA hosts an annual reunion called SOAR and operates a foundation whose activities include a scholarship fund to support the higher education of the children and grandchildren of SOA members and those individuals KIA/MIA who would have been eligible for membership in the SOA.
Donations: Owing to the relatively recent declassification of their accomplishments the SOA doesn't have name recognition that other organizations such as the Green Beret Foundation and the Navy SEALs enjoy. Your donations would be particularly impactful and a unique opportunity to show your appreciation for these veterans and the Vietnam War veterans in particular.