SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
The 6th PSYOP Battalion Crest
A gold color metal and enamel insignia 1 1/8 inches in height overall consisting of a wreath of oak leaves in gold surmounted in base by a gold sword hilt and issuant there from to chief three lightning flashes of gray, white and black enamel from left to right respectively. The distinctive unit insignia was authorized on 3 Jan 1967.
The Battalions function of dissemination of propaganda by radio broadcast and prepared leaflets is characterized by the lightning flashes and oak leaves emanating from the sword hilt. The colors gray, white and black are borrowed from the coat of arms of the U.S. Army Special Warfare School (formerly Psychological Warfare School) and refer to the half-truth, the truth and the untruth.
The Current Coat of Arms.
Sheild: Vertical, Above: A red dragon over a palm frond over a black and gold cord. Below: the Battalion Crest.
Shield: Jungle green is the primary color used by Psychological Operations units.
Crest: The dragon highlights the units airborne mission and the palm commemorates the organizations campaign participation credits and honors earned in Vietnam. Red symbolizes valor and sacrifice and is the color of the Meritorious Unit Commendation; gold is the color of honor and high achievement. The number of loops in the ribbon around the palm highlights the three decorations the organization was awarded in Vietnam; dark green is adapted from the Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal. The coat of arms was authorized on 20 Jun 1997.
Motto: Veritas Vos Liberabit (The truth will set you free).
The 6th Psychological Operations Battalion is a subordinate unit of the 4th Psychological Operations Group. The Battalion is tasked with the dissemination of propaganda by radio broadcast and prepared leaflets. The 6th has regional responsibility over the area covered by the European Command (EUCOM), as well as over Africa, excepting the Horn of Africa.
When the U.S. Army selects an official date for the activation of a new unit there is usually good justification for that data. However, in the case of the 6th PSYOP Battalion it is not so easy. There were two of them. The original battalion was later made into a PSYOP Group and the unit was reorganized with new personnel and then started over. At the same time, in early cases like Vietnam we find that often there are detachments that later become companies and finally end up as a battalion. Could we not make a case that the starting date goes back to those early units? I shall leave it up to the reader to determine when and what is true about the 6th PSYOP Battalion. I will just tell their story and the reader can judge.
The original 6th PSYOP Battalion was based in Saigon from February 1966 to December 1967 as the lead PSYOP unit. The original commanders were Lieutenant Colonel Wallis J. Moulis, Colonel David W. Affleck and Lieutenant Colonel William J. Beck. A 1966 Stars and Stripes article entitled U.S. Psywar Unit Hitting Morale of VC in Vietnam lists the capabilities of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. It says in part:
The Battalion has designed, printed, processed, loaded and delivered more than a half billion leaflets We can print one million leaflets in support of any given mission within a 24-hour period. We printed three million leaflets on three different occasions in support of the Mu Gia Pass bombing in North Vietnam. The Battalion uses more than 200 tons of paper a month Here in Saigon we produce approximately 10 million leaflets a week. Our bomb loading crew can pack five million leaflets daily if necessary, and that is 75,000 to each bomb. Field units can print two and one-half million leaflets a week in support of their tactical units.
The early history of psychological operations in Vietnam is shrouded but we know that on 27 April 1960, the Commander-in-Chief Pacific deployed psychological warfare troops to Vietnam. In February 1962 the first PSYWAR Mobile Training Team was sent to Vietnam. We know that American Special Forces practiced their own PSYOP until such time as trained American forces arrived. On 7 February 1966 the 6th PSYOP Battalion was activated at Tan Sun Nhut.
The history of the 6th PSYOP Battalion is also mentioned in the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Command History Volume II, 1967.
During 1966 the buildup of US forces had evoked changes in the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and its operations in almost every sphere, including Psychological Operations (PSYOP). In early 1966 the 6th PSYOP Battalion had arrived to fulfill the Command's initial requirement for PSYOP support. Although this unit contributed immeasurably to the PSYOP posture, the demand for PSYOP support from combat commanders and advisors still far exceeded the overall capability of the PSYOP support in-country. Tactical psychological campaigns had been greatly expanded in 1966, and were highlighted by the new Chieu Hoi Program (January), the B- 52 Strike Campaign (February), the Trail Campaign (February), the NVA Campaign (April) and the TALLY-HO Campaign (July); complementing all these PSYOP activities was the greatly-expanded Military Civic Action Program (MILCAP). The goals of these programs were to improve the living conditions of the people so as to remove one of the underlying causes of the insurgency to gain and maintain the support of the people for the Government of Vietnam and to improve the standing of the military forces with the population. While it was impossible to establish concrete factors which would measure the effectiveness of PSYOP, there were indications that the overall program had assisted the GVN in gaining support and in the ultimate goal of building a nation.
On 10 February 1966, three companies were formed within the 6th PSYOP Battalion to provide tactical propaganda support.
The 244th PSYOP Company served I Corps initially from Da Nang. The unit was subsequently relocated to Nha Trang (in II Corps), with a detachment in Quang Ngai in I Corps.
The 245th PSYOP Company served II Corps initially from Nha Trang.
The 246th PSYOP Company served III Corps from Bien Hoa, about 20 miles northeast of Saigon in III Corps.
On 19 November 1966, the 19th PSYOP Company was deployed to Can Tho Vietnam as part of the 6th PSYOP Battalion to provide advice and support to military units and agencies in the Mekong Delta in IV Corps Tactical Zone.
The 246th PSYOP Company would later become the reorganized 6th Battalion so we should take a closer look at it.
The 246th PSYOP Company
The 246th PSYOP Companys Leaflet Catalogue
During wartime PSYOP detachments, companies, battalions and groups all generally have leaflet catalogues. The leaflets inside have been tested and approved and are ready for instant use should a combat unit require them. This is the 1966 edition and explains to the supported combat unit that they need only identify the leaflet number, quantity, date desired, changes desired (if any), and the name of the unit ordering them.
Although we do not have exact dates, we know that the 20th PSYOP Field Support Detachment and the 26th PSYWAR Detachment merged to form the 246th PSYOP Company.
Some of the Units that Company B of the 246th PSYOP Company supported are the 1st Infantry Division, the 9th Infantry Division, the 25th Infantry Division, The 199th Infantry Light Brigade, the 11th Cavalry, the 720th Military Police Battalion, the Hau Nghia Chieu Hoi Center, the Binh Duong PSYOP Center, The Royal Thai Queen's Cobra Volunteer Regiment and of course, the 1st Australian Task Force.
Dave Kolchuk was a Specialist 4 (E4) with the 246th PSYOP Company in Vietnam from October 1965 to October 1966. He was stationed in the Train Compound, an old French villa a few miles from Bien Hoa. He was an Army Illustrator supporting III Corps. He told me:
My job was to design, and produce leaflets, flyers, and posters. We also did public relations work for schools and hospitals. I learned enough of the language to give some translation support. Once printed, I participated in leaflet drops and loudspeaker operations on air missions with the US Air Force out of Bien Hoa Air Base. I had enough hours and missions in various aircraft to earn crewman wings from the USAF.
We know a little bit about the loudspeaker program from the classified Confidential Operational Report - Lessons Learned, Headquarters, 6th PSYOP Battalion: period Ending 31 October 1967. It says in part:
Seven Audio-Visual (HE) Teams arrived on 29 July 1967 as separate detachments and two were deployed to the 246th Company. These teams, which will supplement the presently authorized Teams, will assist in providing the support required by the Free World Military Armed Forces in Vietnam.
In addition, The 246th PSYOP Company provided support during Operation DOI MOI, consisting mainly of "quick reaction" leaflets. Additionally, about 78 million leaflets were printed by the Battalion Headquarters printing plant during the period 25 September to 29 October. An additional 45 million leaflets were also provided by off-shore facilities.
In other operations conducted during this period the 246th PSYOP Company disseminated 390,975,000 leaflets of which 75,489,000 were printed by the unit printing section. These leaflets were part of stock leaflets which were printed by the Battalion Headquarters printing plant, 7th PSYOP Group and this units printing facility. In addition, 621.5 hours of aerial loudspeaker time were directed against targets in enemy areas. Of this total, 30.5 hours were broadcast at night.
Ninety-three quick reaction leaflets were printed by the 246th PSYOP Company In support of Operation Do Moi for a total of 12,140,000. A majority of these leaflets were handwritten messages by ralliers either stating that they had been treated well, or appealing to their comrades to also rally.
Army of South Vietnam Officers Candidate School Booklet
The above booklet was produced by the 246th PSYOP Company in 1966. 30,000 copies of this 14 x 7.5-inch booklet were produced at the request of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. The cover of this booklet depicting three brave ARVN soldiers was drawn by Specialist Fourth Class Dave Kolchuk. The text on the cover is:
Monthly Publication of the Thu Duc Infantry School
The Thu Duc Infantry School was the South Vietnamese Army's officer candidates school. It was the training school for reserve officers, while regular army officers were trained at the Dalat Military Academy. They called it the Infantry School but it was an officers training school. It is interesting to note that the North Vietnamese also called their Military Academy the Infantry School. Perhaps a title the Vietnamese inherited from their French colonial masters in the distant past.
History of PSYOP
The publications produced by a unit are not always for the enemy. Sometimes they produce booklets and magazines just for themselves. Sometimes comic books are just written and drawn by military cartoonists for their own amusement. This 32-page Vietnam War comic was created by a member of the 246th PSYOP Company named Bentley while stationed in Bien Hoa. The title is History of PSYOP You really cant believe anybody. The second page of the comic book states that it is dedicated to all Psywarriors, and especially a number of officers and men serving in the unit that were helpful to Bentley. It was varityped by Specialist 4th Grade Forrest. The text and images of the comic are a humorous look at the alleged origin of PSYOP in prehistoric days; how words like Love and Hate mold opinions and actions, and the last page depicts what appears to be PSYOP as practiced by the American forces in Vietnam. It was a nice souvenir for the unit members.
Professional Litter Bugs
The 246th PSYOP Company had an interesting pocket ID that was in the form of a Lady Bug with the text:
246th PSYOP Co Professional Litter Bugs
I commented to former PSYOP officer Hammond Salley about the vignette and he sent me a picture showing that it was also on the commanders jeep.
Specialist 4 Eugene Simmons was an illustrator in the 246th PSYOP Company for all of 1967. He recalls that Viet Cong prisoners of war would sometimes be isolated, interviewed and photographed. They would be asked to write a note to their combat buddies letting them know they were at alive and healthy. Photos would be taken and a leaflet produced with a photo of the prisoner on one side and his handwritten or typed note on the other side. Leaflet 246-55-67 depicts Nguyen Van Tuong. 50,000 leaflets were printed to be dropped by air over the 315B Unit at the request of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division. The text on the back says in part:
To Mr. Tu Thach and Friends of the 315B Unit
Hello Mr. Tu. Today I have some words for you and members in the Unit. Five years ago we were living together but I did not know where my honor was. I saw only the deaths everyday; was in need of many things and lost my freedom. The future was hopeless. I decided to leave the unit when I received the call from the Republic of Vietnam. Now I am really free. I enjoy life with my parents and my wife and family. The Republic of Vietnam has given me a house and the means to make a living
Staff Sergeant Robert "Dennis" Brown was a member of the 246th PSYOP Company in Vietnam during 1967 and 1968. He was first attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and later the 25th Infantry Division. He recalls dropping leaflets daily from U-10 Courier aircraft, C-47 Skytrain aircraft, and UH-1D Huey helicopters. He also regularly played Chieu Hoi tapes. He was involved in various hearts and minds projects such as Medical Civil Action Programs (MEDCAP) with Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and Special Forces teams. He says he doesnt know how successful his efforts were, but he did get positive feedback on one occasion:
A grunt with the 101st Airborne Division told me that a Hoi Chanh had stepped out from behind a tree and surrendered to him while he was on patrol. He said that if it had not been for the Chieu Hoi leaflet that the same VC would have probably killed him.
This leaflet was prepared by the 246th PSYOP Company in Bien Hoa in 1967. It depicts an American medic washing a Vietnamese baby on the front. The text is:
The American forces in Vietnam not only fight the Viet Cong, but also help the Vietnamese Government in improving the health of the people.
The back of the leaflet depicts an Army doctor treating a line of Vietnamese civilians. The text is:
In villages all over Vietnam American doctors and medics make visits to give better health to the people. The medical team can help you cure skin diseases, colds, headaches, and most other complaints. When a medical team comes to your area they will be glad to help you.
This leaflet is aimed at building trust between the Vietnamese people and the Americans.
This 246th PSYOP Company often worked with the Australians and prepared leaflets for them. This leaflet explains the Australian presence in Vietnam. 10,000 copies were printed to be disseminated by aircraft and hand. The text says in part:
We Australian soldiers, along with other Allied and Vietnamese Army forces, are working together to destroy the Viet Cong and their bases. We are here in a mutual effort with you to defeat the Viet Cong and to help build up your country. We are your Australian friends, who have parted from our homes and families in order to come here and fight and die beside you to stop Communist aggression. While some of our units are fighting the Viet Cong, others will assist you in your villages and hamlets. We are glad to be able to help you
I have a list of all the American leaflets prepared for the Australians by the 246th prior to April 1970. The total is 26 leaflets starting with 246-287-67 (Death by Napalm) and ending with 246-353-68 (Viet Cong to steal rice from coming harvest). The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) then took over the duty and the first of the new leaflets was SP-927A (Come home to your family).
My Friend, former Sergeant Derrill de Heer, who was a member of the Australian 1st Psychological Operations Unit from 1969 to 1970 told me:
During those early years there was a small Australian psychological operations group of two to four personnel, including an ARVN Vietnamese interpreter that had a printing capability for propaganda leaflets within the Task Force Headquarters. A portable printing press was set up in the back of an air-conditioned truck that had color printing capability. The Task Force was still able to order leaflets from the National PSYOP Catalogue. The leaflets were supplied by the 246 PSYOP Company.
The 246th also supported Thai troops in Vietnam. 75,000 copies of this 4 x 5-inch leaflet were prepared in 1968 by the 246th PSYOP Company. They were distributed by aircraft and by hand. The leaflet depicts a Thai soldier and a Vietnamese civilian. The text is in part:
Your neighboring country is coming to work with you. We, the Royal Thai Volunteer Regiment, representing the people of Thailand, which is your close neighbor and a member of the Free World, is now here to give you a hand and collaborate with you.
You need not worry; you can count on us. We are ready to devote every bit of effort, even our lives to cooperate with you in order that the Vietnamese people, who love freedom, will live in happiness. This is the reason we volunteered to come here.
Leaflet 246-11-67 concerns the distribution of captured rice. The 246th printed 50,000 copies of the 3 x 6-inch leaflet for local villagers with dissemination by aircraft. The leaflet depicts Australian forces returning captured rice to the villagers and the supporting text:
Your friends the Australian soldiers have taken the rice that the Viet Cong forcefully took from you and are now returning it to the rightful owners. By supporting and helping the Australian soldiers you are helping your Government of Vietnam defeat the common enemy and bringing a better life to you and your loved ones.
I note this leaflet is lower than the lowest number shown in the report above. I cannot explain any of that. The military seems awful at getting numbers and dates straight. I can just report what I read from their documents.
Leaflet 246-21-67 depicts an Allied air strike with a dead Viet Cong in the foreground. The 246th printed 50,000 of the 3 x 6-inch leaflets for distribution by aircraft and hand. The text tells of the destruction to come in future air raids.
Attention Viet Cong Soldiers. You have witnessed just a small part of the death and destruction that await you soon. The mighty air power of the Government of Viet Nam and Australian forces will destroy you and all you represent. Your only hope for survival is to rally to the Government of Viet Nam at once. There can be no doubt in your mind as to the desolation that our air strikes bring, and they will continue with greater force each time until you are completely destroyed. You can save your life and the life of your comrades. Rally at once to the Government of Viet Nam.
In general, PSYOP troops are asked not to show dead enemy bodies because it seems to be gloating and it does nothing but anger the enemy and make them fight harder. As always, we and our allies ignore the prohibition. It seems we just believe that we can scare the Hell out of the enemy and keep producing these leaflets that we are told is unproductive.
I have depicted a good representation of the leaflets produced by the 246th PSYOP Company. I could have shown a hundred more. Now it is time to leave the company and see the coming of the new 6th PSYOP Battalion.
The 246th PSYOP Company was officially deactivated on 31 December 1967 to become the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion on 1 January 1968. The battalion colors were presented to Major Clarence A. Barkley, the 6th PSYOP Battalion Commander by the 4th PSYOP Group Commander on 5 January 1968 at Bien Hoa.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion
6th PSYOP Battalion Headquarters
The 6th PSYOP Battalion moved its residence from the Train Compound to the Honour-Smith Compound on the 28th of January 1968. The move was made due to expected increase in unit strength and the present lack of adequate space at the Train Compound.
By 1969, the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion consisted of 33 officers, 2 Warrant Officers, and 151 enlisted men for a total of 186 troops.
6th Battalion Printing Plant
Printers from the 6th Battalion produce propaganda leaflets, posters, newspapers and other printed material at their printing plant in Bien Hoa.
The Monthly Operations report of August 1969 stated:
Increased psychological operations support of Free World Military Force operations in III Corps Tactical Zone highlights the accomplishments of the 6th PSYOP Battalion during the month of August.
168 new leaflets were developed, including 22 quick reaction (QR) leaflets. Approximately 132 million leaflets were air dropped on 399 requested separate targets and enemy contacts and ralliers were rapidly exploited by 198 aerial QR missions. Continued extensive use of the Early Word System marked many of these aerial missions.
Due to extensive PSYOP activities, a significant rise in returnee rates has been realized in the 1st Infantry Division area of operations over the preceding month. In one brigade area alone, seventeen Hoi Chanhs rallied. Audio and leaflet support of a hamlet seal in Soui Dau was particularly effective resulting in three Hoi Chanhs.
The 6th Psychological Operations Battalion reported these quarterly production totals: Leaflets printed: 49,800,000; Leaflets disseminated: 372, 800,000; Loudspeaker broadcasts: 1,425 hours and 40 minutes; Total missions: 1002. Of the 20 officers assigned to the 6th Battalion, 14 had formal PSYOP training. The remaining 6 were enrolled in after-hours study course. A small Viet Cong propaganda printing press was presented to the 6th PSYOP Battalion by the 5th Special Forces Group.
A 1966 Stars and Stripes article entitled U.S. Psywar Unit Hitting Morale of VC in Vietnam mentions the 6th PSYOP Battalion mission over the Mu Gia Pass:
The Battalion has designed, printed, processed, loaded and delivered more than a half billion leaflets We can print one million leaflets in support of any given mission within a 24-hour period. We printed three million leaflets on three different occasions in support of the Mu Gia Pass bombing in North Vietnam.
M129 Leaflet bombs stacked outside the Printing Plant
Demand for psychological operations overwhelmed capability, and in December 1967 the 4th PSYOP Group was formed from the existing 6th PSYOP battalion and its companies. Upon the formation of the 4th PSYOP Group, the 6th PSYOP Battalion Commander, Col. Beck, became the new Group Commander. The former company commanders of the 6th PSYOP Battalion became the new PSYOP Battalion Commanders under the newly formed Group.
The new 6th PSYOP Battalion that became part of the 4th PSYOP Group supported the III Combat Tactical Zone from Bien Hoa. They supported the following units:
II Field Forces, Vietnam; CORDS; 1st Cavalry Division; 1st Infantry Division; 25th Infantry Division; 199th Light Infantry Brigade; 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division; 1st Brigade, 9th Infantry Division; 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment; 1st Australian Task Force; Royal Thai Forces; Capital Military Assistance Command; 30th POLWAR Battalion (ARVN); Naval Forces, Vietnam; Company A, 5th Special Forces group; MACV Advisors.
Sergeant Rich Hosier with a Viet Cong Colonel who defected
Rich told me that the Colonel was a treasure. He eventually ran the Chieu Hoi center in Tam Ky and brought many Viet Cong back to the Government side.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion Booklet
Although he had no PSYOP training, Rich Hosier was assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam in August 1967. He was issued a 5-page booklet that explained the mission:
To conduct psychological operations in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam
He was later sent to the 244th PSYOP Company and 7th PSYOP Battalion in Da Nang. He was then sent to Chu Lai to support the 23rd Infantry (Amercal) Division where he started his On-the-Job training. He went on various missions winning hearts and minds and showing movies. He always started with hygiene movie to explain the proper way to brush your teeth or bathe a child, and then he would show a real Hollywood movie. The favorites were Westerns. The Vietnamese loved the horses! Once his team was laughing as they watched The Green Berets although it was in English and most of them couldn't understand a word of it.
Rich told me:
We were an HB Team (Loudspeaker), with no team members. We would broadcast on the ground and from helicopters using a cassette player with tapes sent to us from Da Nang. We usually had a script so we knew what the message was and sometimes we took the S3 (Operations) interpreter on missions for live broadcasting. We dropped leaflets by the thousands. Leaflet drops were very sophisticated. We would identify a target; usually a village and the pilot would help us with wind direction and tell us when to drop. Some missions we flew while a battle was going on. I remember at least three times when our tactical leaflets identified the enemy units so the messages were very personal. Broadcasting and dropping leaflets was very dangerous as we flew very slowly at an altitude of about 1,500 feet. I can't ever remember not getting shot at when doing this.
Joint Vietnamese-American PSYOP Loudspeaker Team prepare
to take off. Note the bundle of leaflets on the floor of the aircraft.
SP4 John Orr
Speaking of loudspeaker missions, there were numerous reports of the Viet Cong opening fire on the loudspeaker aircraft. Army Specialist 4th Class John (Snake) Orr of B Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion (Bien Hoa) told me that during his Vietnam tour he was assigned to and supported at different times the 101st Airborne Division, the 1st Infantry division, the 1st Air Cavalry (almost 600 hours flying speaker and leaflet missions) the 9th Infantry Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. John said that the 9th Infantry Division was the only unit that thanked him. He said that in general, most of the infantry patrols were unhappy to have his team tagging along. He suspects that they considered his PSYOP troops just dead weight who they hoped could shoot straight in a firefight. John preferred flying to ground operations; though he admits that he took a heck of a lot more bullets in choppers than he ever did on the ground.
Wandering Soul Tape
Orr often played a tape called the Wandering Soul and says it always drew fire.
I played the Wandering Soul tape many times during 1969-1970; until it got my aircraft all shot up. The damn tape drew fire every time. I never understood the lack of fire discipline on the part of the enemy.
My light observation helicopter was an easy target and I always got very worried of the time lag between the first green tracers coming up and our protecting Cobra attack helicopters response.
It could be worse on the ground. I had an encounter with an officer who tried to convince me that my two-man team should set up an all-nighter with the tape and 1000-watt speakers in a hostile deserted village with a 200 foot high South Vietnam flag colored helium balloon attached to my speakers. I believe he fully intended that it would draw fire; though he professed that it would draw in defectors. As team leader, I refused to put my team in jeopardy and that got me in a little trouble.
Sergeant Chad Spawr
Chad Spawr, a former PSYOP Team Leader of the 6th PSYOP Battalion during 1968 and 1969 also mentioned the Wandering Soul:
I used "Wandering Soul" in a contested area north of the Bien Hoa River. My interpreter climbed a tree, and hung a speaker from a large palm frond, with the speaker pointed into the general area north of the compound toward the villages. We connected the speaker to a small amplifier and tape player, and began playing "Wandering Soul." At first, there was no reaction to the broadcast, but then we began taking some random sniper fire from one of the villages.
We repeated this nightly broadcast for the next three or four nights, but we varied the location of the broadcast in case the local VC had staked out our previous broadcast locations. We also varied the broadcast volume so it would sound closer on one night, but farther away the next night. On either the fourth or fifth morning, at first light, we left with a small patrol to enter the village where the sniper fire had originated. We found several shell casings (7.62 x 39mm) from an AK-47 or SKS rifle probably hidden in some ground litter, but nobody knew who fired it or where the rifle was hidden. My interpreter then told a few people that the "lost spirits" were sure to return if the shooter and/or the weapon were not surrendered to our patrol. We continued searching the few houses in the village, and as we were preparing to leave, an elderly lady told my interpreter where to find the rifle. It was hidden under a small trough in a pig sty. We dug out a very nice Chinese Communist SKS with bayonet, a few rounds still in the internal magazine, with a rare sling attached.
PSYOP Plays the Jodie Card
The above Phil Fehrenbacher cartoon depicts a lonely Viet Cong reading an American propaganda leaflet telling him that his neighbor Nguyen is in the sack with his girlfriend. This is a great parody of a standard Chieu Hoi leaflet. Phil was assigned as an 81E Illustrator assigned to 6th PSYOP Battalion at Bien Hoa. He told me:
My cartoons about a tour of duty in Vietnam has been something Ive wanted to do for many years, but only realized the opportunity two years ago. I self-published my book "In-Country" in early 2017.
Note: Among American soldiers, Jody appears in many marching cadences and songs. He is the one who stayed home and is having fun with your girlfriend:
Aint no use in calling home
Jodys got your girl and gone
Aint no use in feeling blue
Jodys got your sister too
Besides leaflets and cartoons, the 6th PSYOP Battalion also printed newspapers. According to the 1969 declassified report: Employment of US Army Psychological Operations Units in Vietnam, they printed Tin Tong Hop (News Roundup), issued daily, two pages, 40,000 copies per edition. The 6th PSYOP Battalion printed Tin Tong Hop for VC and general population audiences in support of CORDS Corps Tactical Zone III. They also printed Tin Chien Truong (News from the Front), one page, 50,000 copies per edition. The 6th PSYOP Battalion printed Tin Chien Truong for VC and NVA troop target audiences in support of CORDS Corps Tactical Zone III
One of the major efforts of the PSYOP Battalions was to show the people of Vietnam that the Americans came as friends and were not invaders and occupiers like the French and Japanese before them.
SP5 Jack O'Neil with Armed Propaganda Team (APT)
Specialist Five Jack ONeil of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me how the men tried to help the local people:
While supporting the 82nd Airborne in 1969 First Lieutenant Ben Rogers and I volunteered at an orphanage just outside Saigon. We were happy to spend time there because the children were mostly orphans of ARVN soldiers whose parents had been killed by the Viet Cong or North Vietnamese Army. When we were there the kids would flock around us, wearing my hat, and wanting hugs and laughter which we were able to give them by making faces and funny noises. We also cried a lot worrying about their future. When working with 1st Air Cavalry we helped with MEDCAP and DENTCAP projects and spent time with the children teaching them how to play baseball, taking them to the Saigon Zoo, giving them comic books, coloring books, soccer balls and other items.
A Nightmare Passed...
Jack ONiel mentions comic books above. Comic book 2078 is an example of a Chieu Hoi product. Its title is A Nightmare Passed - Chieu Hoi. This July 1967 booklet is 5 x 7-inches in size and 20-pages in length. The comic book presents, in cartoon style, the experiences and thoughts of a Hoi Chanh (defector or rallier from the Viet Cong) on the events which led to his decision to Chieu Hoi (return to the National Government). At the start of the book a happy young man is shown at school. Later he decides to join the Viet Cong. His group is first bombed by the Americans and then he gets sick but cannot be treated properly in the field. He is forced to take part in self-criticism and after a second American aerial attack he finds Chieu Hoi leaflets on the ground. He returns to the fold at the end of the book has returned to his old school.
There are other reports of comic books used in psychological operations in Vietnam. For instance, 60 copies of Vietnamese War Heroes childrens comic books coded 6-789 and 50 copies of a later issue coded 6-791 were distributed during Operation Lanikai, from November to December 1966 by PSYOP troops attached to the U.S. Armys 25th Division. On other occasions during the same operation 15 Navy Heroes and 30 Childrens Heroes comic books were given to the locals. On another Medcap visit 10 copies of the comic book History of America coded 6-182 were given to the children of Long Dinh. These comics were of course all printed by the 6th PSYOP Battalion.
Army Specialist 4th Class John Orr of the 6th PSYOP Battalion recalls helping an entire Montagnard village go Chieu Hoi on one occasion:
A small group of about 20 men had gathered with one of their chiefs. I had previously dropped leaflets on their village. I think that the men had either volunteered or had been chosen by their chief to test out our process. That is, were the Americans trustworthy and truthful?
I was supposed to escort them to Long Binh from their home in the highlands. They were frightened of the Caribou transport plane and seemed to think that it might eat them if they walked into the gaping hole at the back. I managed to get the chief to come into the plane with me, then showed him how the tail was closed (so his tribe would not fall out) and then took him back outside so his people could see that the Caribou had not eaten him. We then talked some and I made the chief and his warriors a gift of a few packs of Camel cigarettes (their favorites). That sealed the deal. I later heard that the entire village came over to the government side but I doubt they were ever very close to the Viet Cong anyway. I have worried on occasion (very deeply) about the plight of the Montagnards, I fear they were not treated well after the North took control.
Ho Chi Minh Trail Campaign Leaflet T-16
I chose this leaflet because it bears the symbol of Laos. This is the three-headed Erawan elephant national symbol from Hindu mythology of the 14th century kingdom whose name translates to Land of the Million Elephants and the White Parasol. This Lao image is the most popular theme among the Trail leaflets and there are over a dozen different types with various surrender messages. The United States had to deal with the Lao government to arrange for them to accept Vietnamese prisoners. All of these leaflets bear text in Vietnamese on one side and Lao on the other. The Vietnamese-language side of the leaflet says:
Pass for safe conduct
To: All North Vietnamese Soldiers in Laos.
You are offered the chance to escape death and live in safety and peace for the duration. The Royal Lao Government and people will welcome you and treat you as a brother.
Show this pass to any Royal Laos Government citizen or soldier and he will guide you to safety.
Commander in Chief
Lao National Armed Forces
The Lao-language side says:
Pass for Safe Conduct Valid at all times
To: All Citizens and Soldiers of the Royal Laotian Government.
Please welcome the bearer of this pass and provide him with safe conduct to the nearest Royal Lao Government unit or post.
Commander in Chief
Lao National Armed Forces.
In November 1967, the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Battalion in Okinawa print 10 million copies of Trail leaflet T-16 with the theme: "Lao safe conduct, flag for safe conduct" to be delivered by 30 December 1967.
This is an interesting reward leaflet that requests information. The front is a four panel comic. In the first panel a young boy is looking intently at something. In the second, he finds what appears to be a South Vietnamese soldier and tells him what he saw. In the third panel the ARVN digs up a mine by hand. In the final panel the boy is told that he will be rewarded. The actual text is:
If you see a Viet Cong mine or something you suspect may be a mine
Immediately report it to any Army of the Republic of Vietnam or allied soldier
An explosive ordnance specialist will come out to disarm it or to destroy it on the spot.
The road will be made safe and you will be rewarded for your report.
Viet Cong Terrorist Reward Leaflet 6-083-68
The 6th PSYOP Battalion was also busy preparing reward leaflets. One of the more interesting is an offer for a Viet Cong terrorist leader. The leaflet has a drawing of Tam Nui on the front and the text:
Up to $50,000 VN Reward. Nguyen Van Lac, alias Tam Nui. 53 years old, 1 meter 68 tall, armed with a pistol. He is usually accompanied by a bodyguard of 30 men and is often in or near Ap 6 Chanh (2) Michelin Plantation.
Text on the back is:
Allied Forces in Dau Tieng will pay up to $50,000VN for information which leads to the apprehension of Nguyen Van Lac, alias Tam Nui, assistant VC district chief, Tri Tam District. Tam Nui has shown himself to be an enemy of the Vietnamese people by his unlawful terrorist activities in Dan Tieng and the Michelin Plantation.
The person providing information that leads to the apprehension of Tam Nui will receive reward money that can provide the opportunity to start a new business and a new life. If he so desires, the recipient may also be provided transportation for himself, his family and his household goods to resettle anywhere with Binh Duong, Tay Ninh, Hau Nghia or Gia Dinh provinces or in Saigon.
The 1969 Tactical leaflet was produced by the 6th PSYOP Battalion and targeted the soldiers of the 275th NVA Regiment. It was prepared all in blue and depicts the Chieu Hoi symbol on one side. The other side bears the message:
To the soldiers of 275th Regiment
Your commanders have exploited your blood and flesh to satisfy their invasion dreams. Therefore, your weapons are more important than you are. They tricked you when you are alive and neglect you when you die. They order you to carry your weapons back during a retreat but leave behind the bodies of your fallen. Your life is all hardship and you may die without a proper burial, not even a single marker. What do you think about this? Don't continue to live in this situation. Return to the Government of Vietnam to live in harmony, love and unity.
We have mentioned the Montagnard native people above so I want to show a 6th PSYOP Battalion leaflet designed for the native tribe in September, 1970. This leaflet was found by Sergeant Jim Hackbarth, a member of the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, in 1970. Notice that the leaflet is dirty and stained from being on the ground in rain and sunlight. My files show it is a remake, so it was printed earlier and apparently they liked it enough to do so again. There are numerous other leaflets for illiterates without text and six panels.
The Americans knew that most Montagnards could not read so this leaflet was designed to be understood without any text. The front and back have three cartoon panels each. On the front, an armed native who apparently was drafted by the Viet Cong finds a Chieu Hoi leaflet. He takes it to an American soldier who points him to a Chieu Hoi center. At the center a friendly ARVN accepts his AK-47 and hands him a cash reward. On the back the native is checked for any medical problems. He is then put in a class and taught a trade. In the last drawing he lives happily with his family in a peaceful setting.
5 Flag Safe Conduct Pass
This is the official safe conduct pass of the Vietnam War. It has many variations. The first was the five-flag pass, showing flags of the United States, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, in addition to the flag of Vietnam. This leaflet and its variants were produced before 1967. In 1967, a seven-flag version was introduced, showing the additional flags of Thailand and the Philippines. Finally, in 1972, when Vietnamization became the focus of propaganda, all flags except that of Vietnam were removed. Several different forms of propaganda were used on the back side. The original leaflet was given the code 893. Subsequently, the letters "A" through "F" were added to distinguish some of the modifications.
We do know from a 6th PSYOP Battalion Facts on Battalion Operations, that 50 million copies of leaflet SP-893 was ordered in December 1967. 10 million were delivered to Da Nang, 10 million to Bien Hoa, 6 million to Nha Trang, 12 million to Can Tho, 6 million to Pleiku, and 6 million to the 360th TWS.
A second document makes this order more clear. To show the popularity of this leaflet, in the one month of November 1967 alone the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa print 300 million copies in six different batches of 50 million each, to be delivered on 20 January, 20 February, 20 March, 20 April, 20 May and 20 June of 1958.
The Vietnam War Ends
By 1969 the American Congress had tired of the cost of the Vietnam War and the loss of life and President Nixon agreed and decided to pull out American forces and leave the South Vietnamese to fight on under a plan he called Vietnamization. A promise was made that the Americans would return if needed, but of course that never happened.
A Vietnamization Leaflet
The full-color safe conduct pass that once depicted seven nations fighting together was ordered destroyed and a new leaflet was printed that depicted a lonely Republic of Vietnam flag, now an orphan, fighting an enemy still backed by China and the USSR.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion was inactivated on 30 June 1971 in Vietnam and the men returned to Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. The last American combat troops left Vietnam on 29 March 1973.
This was not the end of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. There were other uprisings and revolutions occurring around the world and the U.S. Army was aware that a strong psychological operations force was needed to protect the interests of the United States of America. As a result, a new 6th PSYOP Battalion was activated on 13 September 1972 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
During the war the Battalion was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for VIETNAM 1966-1967 and the Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for VIETNAM 1967-1968 and the Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1967-1970
It received campaign participation credit for Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase II; Counteroffensive, Phase III; Tet Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase IV; Counteroffensive, Phase V; Counteroffensive, Phase VI; Tet 69/Counteroffensive; Summer-Fall 1969; Winter-Spring 1970; Sanctuary Counteroffensive;Counteroffensive, Phase VII.
This ends our very short look at the history of the United States Armys 6th PSYOP Battalion, a unit that has deployed to numerous nations to support legal governments and fight anti-government guerrillas and armed enemies of the United States for over 50 years. Readers who wish to comment or send further information are encouraged to write the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.