Aviators flying support during the secret eight-year war in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam had their heroic efforts erased by a small federal government agency in 2013, SOFREP has learned.

During that top-secret cross-border war fought from 1964 to 1972, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy aircraft supported Green Berets and their indigenous counterparts running reconnaissance and other classified operations deep behind enemy lines under the aegis of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam—Studies and Observations Group, or simply SOG.

The secret war was a high-risk security operation hidden from the press, the public, most members of Congress, as well as the family members of special operations forces who ran these top-secret missions. SOG operated outside the normal chain of command, answering directly to the White House and a key staff member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

So secret were these missions, it took 29 years after SOG’s closure in 1972 for these warriors to be recognized publicly for their extreme courage, sacrifice, and tremendous losses. This official recognition finally came in the form of the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC), the unit award for valor, equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross—our nation’s second highest individual award for valor, second only to the Medal of Honor.