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John L. Plaster
Nickname Plastic Man
Born 1949
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal United States Army
Rank US-O4 insignia Major
Unit United States Army Special Forces, Military Assistance Command-Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Recon Team New Mexico
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Good Conduct Medal

National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Other work Gunsite Training Center, Paulden, Arizona

Major John L. Plaster (born 1949[1]) is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier regarded as one of the leading sniper experts in the world.[2] A decorated Vietnam War veteran who served in the covert Studies and Observations Group (SOG), Plaster co-founded a renowned sniper school that trains military and law enforcement personnel in highly specialized sniper tactics. He is the author of The Ultimate Sniper: An Advanced Training Manual for Military and Police Snipers, The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting, and Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG, a memoir of his 3 years of service with SOG.


Plaster graduated from high school in 1967. He was trained as a communications sergeant in the Special Forces. He served three combat tours in Vietnam as a member of SOG, leading intelligence-gathering and recon teams in North Vietnamese Army-controlled areas of Laos and Cambodia and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.[3][4] He was wounded once, and decorated four times, eventually receiving a field commission in recognition of his combat experience. He retired from the military at the rank of Major.[5]

Plaster parlayed his military experience into becoming a sniping instructor to members of many U.S. governmental agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Customs Service, the United States Marshals, Navy SEALs and United States Marine Corps. Foreign units that have attended the school include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Spanish Foreign Legion.

Since 1993, Plaster has been a precision rifle instructor at the Gunsite Training Center in Paulden, Arizona. He was recently Chief of Competition for Autauga Arms's U.S. and European sniping championships.

Plaster holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Minnesota.

Plaster's experiences serve as the basis for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops.[6]

Awards and decorationsEdit

United States Army Special Forces SSI (1958-2015) SpecialForces Badge

Published writingsEdit


  • The Ultimate Sniper: An Advanced Training Manual for Military and Police Snipers (1993)
  • SOG: A Photo History of the Secret Wars (2000)
  • Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG (2004)
  • The History of Sniping and Sharpshooting (2008)
  • Sharpshooting in the Civil War (2009)
  • SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam(2010)



  1. An article stated he's 52 in 2001.
  2. Rosenau, William (2001). Special operations forces and elusive enemy ground targets: lessons from Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. Rand Corporation. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-8330-3071-9. 
  3. Lewis, Jack (1997). "The Passing of the Sub-gun". Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons. Gun Digest. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-89689-498-3. 
  4. McKenna, Thomas P. (2011). "Flying in Phu Non". Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam. University Press of Kentucky. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8131-3398-0. 
  5. Gene McCarthy, ed (2005). Special Operations Association. Turner Publishing Company. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-59652-156-8. 

External linksEdit

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