George Sisler was an Intelligence Officer, Green Beret, and a member of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group (MACVSOG). On February 7, 1967, Sisler saved his unit from being annihilated by a vastly larger enemy force but was killed in the process. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor.
Sisler was born in Dexter, Missouri in September 1937. He joined the military as an enlisted man first with the Army National Guard and then the U.S. Army Reserves from 1956 until 1958. Following that, he served for four years in the U.S. Air Force from 1958-1962. He went to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro where he graduated in 1964 with a BS in Education. In 1963, while a student at ASU, Sisler won the 1963 National Collegiate Skydiving Championship while his leg was in a cast. He enlisted in the Army on August 20, 1964.
Sisler went to Vietnam and was assigned officially as a first lieutenant and intelligence officer with the Headquarters Company of the Fifth Special Forces Group (Airborne), First Special Forces. However, this was a cover assignment. As mentioned in John Plaster’s excellent book SOG – The Secret War of America’s Commandos in Vietnam, Sisler was actually serving with a classified organization known as the Studies and Observation Group (SOG).
SOG’s charter authorized operations from South Vietnam and Thailand into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, with contingency planning for Burma and China’s Kwangsi, Kwangtung, and Yunnan Provinces, as well as Hainan Island.
These covert operations were drawn up by the CIA and SOG and were known as Operations Plan (OPLAN)-34A. They aimed to bring the war to North Vietnam.
SOG Teams could be reconnaissance teams (code-named Spike) or exploitation teams (code-named Hatchet). On February 7, 1967, Sisler was acting as the platoon leader and adviser of a platoon of combined U.S. and South Vietnamese exploitation team. His unit was deep inside the enemy-controlled territory when it was attacked from three sides by a company-sized North Vietnamese Army (NVA) element. Sisler quickly rallied his men and established a defensive perimeter, calling in airstrikes on the enemy.
Sisler, realizing that two of his men were wounded outside of the perimeter, didn’t hesitate. He charged from the perimeter, through intense enemy fire, to assist them. As he was carrying one of the men on his back into the perimeter, the enemy opened up with intense fire.
However, Sisler was cool under fire. As soon as he placed the wounded man safely down in the perimeter, he shot and killed three charging enemy troops with his rifle. He then took out an enemy machinegun with a grenade.
As soon as he brought the wounded man in Sisler had to deal with a heavy assault that threatened the left flank of the small perimeter. The assault had wounded several more of his men. Sisler, once again displaying courage and coolness under fire, rushed to the occasion. He grabbed some grenades and charged right into the teeth of the enemy’s assault, singlehandedly breaking it up and forcing the enemy to retreat. But as Sisler moved among the men, rallying them and calling in additional airstrikes, he was mortally wounded.
His widow Jane, along with his sons David and James, received his Medal of Honor from Secretary of War Stanley R. Resor on June 27, 1968. James later joined the Air Force and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Sisler was inducted into the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame in 1988. Later that year, Sisler Hall, a building at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, was named after him.
Sisler was honored by his alma mater, Arkansas State University, with the naming of Sisler’s Range, a firing range at Arkansas State University as well as Sisler’s Raiders, the Ranger Challenge team of Arkansas State University
In 1998, the non-commissioned U.S. Navy support vessel, the USNS Sisler (T-AKR-311), named in Sisler’s honor, was launched. It serves in Afloat Prepositioning Ship Squadron Four at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean.