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).
6th PSYOP Battalion Challenge Coin
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 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam stands formation
The original 6th PSYOP Battalion was constituted 20 October 1965 and was activated 1 November 1965 at Ft. Bragg NC. It was based in Saigon from February 1966 to December 1967 as the lead PSYOP unit. It was deactivated 30 June 1971 in Vietnam and reactivated 13 September 1972 at Ft. Bragg NC. 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.
Barger mentions problems with manpower and accomplishments in his thesis: Psychological Operations Supporting Counterinsurgency: 4th PSYOP Group in Vietnam.
The Operational Report-Lessons Learned covering activities of the 6th PSYOP Battalion from 1 May 1966 through 31 July 1966 indicates that this increase in personnel requirements was greater than the number of available, qualified soldiers The lack of qualified personnel in the next three-month reporting period caused the 6th PSYOP Battalion commander to ask for 30-day extensions of the personnel he would have lost in January 1967.The fact that MACV approved this request indicates that the personnel shortage was a significant obstacle to effectiveness.
In the first six-month period of operations (February 1966 to July 1966), the 6th PSYOP Battalion's print facility produced 200 million leaflets. Print facility personnel commonly worked 20 to 24-hour operations but while personnel could work in shifts, the print presses, generators, and paper cutters could not, resulting in numerous equipment breakdowns as well as shortages of critical supplies such as printing plates. Although lack of repair parts continued to be a problem, print output increased substantially in the next three months, with over 132 million leaflets produced.
The 4th PSYOP Group wrote about the Battalion in their 1967 handbook:
The Professional Litterbugs of the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Bien Hoa have a long and proud record of achievement. They carry on the tradition of the old 6th Battalion which was reorganized into the 4th PSYOP Group in December of 1967. The meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded to the 6th Battalion in June 1968 for consummate skill in providing psychological operations support to allied forces. The personnel of the battalion live and work on the Honour-Smith compound, a short distance from Bien Hoa airfield. The compound offers many recreational facilities including a newly constructed club and athletic equipment. One of the unique responsibilities of the battalion is its support of elements of the Royal Thai Armys Black Panther Division. The division, which arrived in-country during the summer of 1968, receives assistance in support of Civic action programs as well as during military operations. Providing PSYOP support to all of III Corps tactical zone, the men of the 6th Battalion continue to maintain their high level of pride and devotion.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion wrote a report entitled Facts on Battalion Operations dated 20 October 1966. It covered the time frame 19 February 1966 until 20 October. It says in part:
The battalion headquarters heavy mobile press consumes approximately 600 rolls of offset paper each month; each roll weighs 440 pounds. The total weight is 132 tons monthly.
The total number of leaflets printed on the heavy mobile press since 19 February 1966 is 315,000,000. Monthly production is approximately 45,000,000. Total battalion production, including the tactical companies, averages over 70,000,000 but has gone as high as 80,000,000.
The battalion headquarters packs 40,000,000 propaganda leaflets in approximately 560 bombs each month. Total number of leaflets processed to date is approximately 540,000,000.
The three companies conduct more than 600 aerial leaflet drops and 325 hours of aerial loudspeaker broadcasts over Vietnam each month.
A 1966 report in the Cincinnati Sunday News said in part:
Among the many civilian and military agencies conduction psychological operations in Vietnam, is the 6th PSYOP Battalion, the only American unit of its kind in the country. Since its activation, it has incorporated elements of previously deployed PSYOP detachments already in Vietnam and has designed, printed, processed, loaded and delivered more than a billion leaflets in support of the tactical missions of the allied troops.
The safe conduct pass, disseminated by air, guarantees safe passage for the bearer through the allied lines, with a cash reward if he brings his weapon with him. According to the battalions research and analysis section, 36,700 persons have come over to the government in the past three years. From January to July 1966, 9000 people used the safe conduct pass.
The information leaflet tells the local civilian population that the allied forces are panning an operation in their area and urges the people to assemble at a specified location to be evacuated.
The Printing Officer told us We can print one million leaflets in support of any given mission within 24 hours. In fact, we printed three million leaflets on three different occasions in support of the Mu Gia Pass bombings in North Vietnam. The battalion uses 800 pounds of ink and more than 200 tons of paper each month.
The Operations Officer said Here in Saigon we produce approximately 10 million leaflets a week. The units bomb loading crew can pack five million leaflets daily, 75,000 to each bomb.
Republican Congressman Craig Hosmer of California spoke to the House of Representatives on 7 February 1966 and told them of his visit to the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam and his belief that the superstitions of the Vietnamese could be used against them. Hosmer recommended dropping hundreds of thousands of plastic aces of spades on North Vietnam at night where the card was considered a deadly omen. He said the Vietnamese seeing the mysterious playing card at the doorstep in the morning would consider it a sign that the day would be one of misfortune.
A Typical Vietnam Ace of Spades
Hosmer was wrong. The Vietnamese were not frightened by the Ace of Spades, but the men did love the idea and many soldiers used the Ace of Spades, believing in error that it did scare the enemy. Allison F. Stanley, President of the U.S. Playing Card company sent 10,000 aces of spades, free of charge to U.S. servicemen in Vietnam who requested them and used them as calling cards or death cards on the body of dead Viet Cong.
Chieu Hoi was considered one of the most important propaganda campaigns in Vietnam. This Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office leaflet coded 2662 depicts dead North Vietnamese troops in a ditch on the front along with Chieu Hoi symbols, and a longer all-text message on the back. The propaganda text says in part:
Chieu Hoi is a way to a new life
To: Members of the North Vietnamese Army in the South.
Xuan Thuy, the leader of the North Vietnamese delegation at the Paris Conference, declared: North Vietnam has no troops in the South.
Why is Hanoi afraid of the truth? Because they are afraid that the world would condemn their destruction of their brothers in the South if they admit that they have 85,000 troops there.
They keep ordering you to fight to the end. If your relatives in North Vietnam knew the truth, what would they think?
6th PSYOP Battalion area of responsibility in Vietnam
We mention Chieu Hoi above. Major Michael G. Barger mentions the 6th PSYOP Battalions involvement in the Chieu Hoi campaign:
What was quickly obvious to the tactical PSYOP teams was that Chieu Hoi appeals were an extremely effective method for supporting tactical combat operations. Although it was not readily apparent, later analysis of these tactical uses of Chieu Hoi appeals would show that the combination of the appeals with military operations was much more effective than appeals done in isolation from combat operations. Military Assistance Command-Vietnam planners in 1966 did note that monthly returnee totals spiked during February, coinciding with four major and two smaller combat operations, without yet making a direct link to PSYOP effectiveness.
What was readily apparent was that Chieu Hoi ralliers provided immediate feedback to show successful use of PSYOP to an often-skeptical commander. Returnees also proved to have practical benefits on the battlefield. For example, since it was impossible on the battlefield to discern a difference between someone attempting to surrender and someone trying to rally, PSYOP teams routinely offered potential returnees a chance to cooperate with friendly forces as a show of good faith. These offers often resulted in Hoi Chanh providing information or serving as guides to locate arms caches, find Viet Cong Viet Cong safe areas, and identify Viet Cong agents among civilian populations.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion product developers designed the arguments used in these Chieu Hoi appeals to take advantage of four assumed target audience susceptibilities. The first of these was the physical and mental hardships suffered by the Viet Cong such as physical danger, illness, fatigue, and sometimes lack of food. Second, any dissension caused by either real or perceived unfair treatment. Third was disillusionment, the lack of perceived progress and resultant perception that ultimate Viet Cong victory was unlikely. The fourth susceptibility was the reputation of the Chieu Hoi program, because the program actually did what it was advertised to do and this verifiable reality enhanced the credibility of Chieu Hoi appeals. All four of these appeals were effective to the average Hoi Chanh, who was a rural farmer conscripted into the Viet Cong Viet Cong rather than being a volunteer.
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.
Specialist Gerald W. Welle, pressman, 246th PSYOP Company prints thousands of propaganda leaflets on 1250LW Offset Press in the print shop in Bien Hoa, 23 kilometers northwest of Saigon, 4 October 1967
Mervyn Roberts opens with a story about the 246th PSYOP Company in his Master of Arts thesis: United States Psychological Operations in Support of Counterinsurgency: Vietnam, 1960 to 1965:
It is early morning on 8 December 1966. A battalion from the United States 1st Infantry Division surrounds the village of Chanh Luu, thirty kilometers north of Saigon. This is part of Operation FAIRFAX, General William Westmorelands push to clear National Liberation Front (NLF) elements from the area surrounding the capital. Men painstakingly comb the red sand road in search of mines as they approach the village. At eight that morning, field teams of the 246th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Company, armed with food, PSYOP posters and leaflets, and loudspeakers, enter the formerly Viet Cong (VC) controlled village. The children of the village eagerly swarm around as the Americans distribute candy.
Meanwhile, work begins to remove all traces of communist propaganda from the village. In their place are fresh, colorful posters, and a pro-government slogan is painted on the wall of the only stone building in Chanh Luu. As soldiers visit the village shops, a wizened grandmother crowds the team to get a specially designed calendar. Integral to the PSYOP mission, soldiers assemble the fighting age men of the village for intelligence interviews.
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.
Jimmie Hurley standing in front of the loudspeakers on a U10 Courier aircraft at Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam.
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.
The PSYOP-POLWAR Newsletter
The PSYOP Newsletter was printed by the United States Military Assistance Command to inform commanders, PSYOP personnel, and PSYWAR advisors of psychological operations in Vietnam and to exchange ideas and lessons learned. Later Vietnamese POLWAR personnel were added and the name was changed to the PSYOP-POLWAR Newsletter. Looking through my copy from April 1967 I find the following comment regarding the 246th PSYOP Company:
On 23 February 1967 Lieutenant Colonel Boettcher reported on PSYOP action in the 9th Infantry Division. One field team of the 246th PSYOP Company supported the division. Leaflet dissemination during February 1967 exceeded three million The Vietnamese calendars for 1967 were popular and 4,830 were distributed. Each Brigade has a PSYOP Officer an S5 responsible for PSYOP and military civic action.
On 28 February 1967, Captain Thomas S5, and Captain Wright, PSYOP Officer of the 199th Light Infantry brigade reported on Operation Fairfax in Gia Dinh Province. The Brigade captured 88 prisoners and received 36 Hoi Chanh Support from the 246th PSYOP Battalion and the 5th Air Commando Squadron have been very effective. Seven Hoi Chanh assisted with propaganda, including personal visits to their hamlets, as evidence of their good health and welfare.
0-2B Skymaster in Vietnam on its way to drop leaflets
In late 1966, the USAF selected a military variant of the Cessna Model 337 Super Skymaster to supplement the 0-1 Bird Dog forward air controller aircraft then operating in Southeast Asia. Designated as the 0-2, the aircraft was distinguished by twin tail booms and tandem-mounted engines. Having twin engines enabled the 0-2 to absorb more ground fire and still return safely, endearing it to its crews. The 02-A had hard points on the wings for weapons and rockets. The 02B had no weapons but was designed to carry loudspeakers and disseminate propaganda leaflets. The photograph was taken by photographer Rick Levine who took enemy fire on this mission.
The 0-2B depicted on the cover of the PSYOP Newsletter dropping leaflets
The 246th PSYOP Company printed 500,000 copies of leaflet 343 in July 1966. This leaflet depicted the insignia of the 173rd Airborne Brigade on one side and soldiers interacting with Vietnamese children on the back. It was considered a variation of 246-069 mentioned above. Some of the text is:
We are American paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne brigade. Our unit is operations with Vietnamese and other units in this area to destroy the Viet Cong and their bases. While most of our units are busy defeating the Viet Cong, others are working on projects to help you.
We come as friends. We are part of the American forces in Vietnam helping you achieve the inevitable victory over Communist aggression in your country. We wish to help you have a better way of life free from Viet Cong terror. Help us by providing information about the Viet Cong.
The 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sky Soldiers) arrived in Vietnam 7 May 1965. During the six years it was in-country it was located at Bien Hoa, An Khe and Bong Son. It took part in a combat parachute assault during Operation Junction City, 22 February 1967. Members of the Brigade often refer to themselves as The Herd. The Brigade departed Vietnam on 25 August 1971.
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.
Candy or Bombs
In July 2018, my pal Derrill de Heer who was with the Australian PSYOP force in Vietnam wrote to me with a request:
I wonder if you can help me. I am looking for a copy of a US leaflet 246-287-67, Death by Napalm. I need the photo and words of the leaflet. Australians used this leaflet 3 times. Someone sent this back to Australia during the war and someone else gave it to the newspapers and it caused an uproar in certain anti-war factions. I wanted to add it to our web site.
I had information on the alleged napalm leaflet in my files. Of course, it had nothing to do with napalm. In fact, it was a warning to the Vietnamese that if Viet Cong forces stayed within their villages, force would be used against them. The theme was movement, and the concept was to get the Vietnamese to leave their village for their own safety. The leaflet depicts a village with Allied aircraft bombing and strafing Viet Cong fighters. There is what appears to be a bomb blast and I suppose that the left-wing press might have tried to imply that was napalm burning innocent women and children. A Vietnamese villager is seen in a wagon escaping the village at bottom right. His life has been saved by the warning. 50,000 copies of this leaflet were prepared to be disseminated by air or by hand. The leaflet was originally requested by the 5th Special Forces Group. The text on the front is:
In order to enjoy freedom and security, you should move to a government-controlled area.
The text on the back is:
The presence of Viet Cong in your village has made it a prime target for our planes and artillery. In order that the Vietnamese and Allied Forces can use its modern weapons to rid you of the Viet Cong without harming you or your family we request that you leave immediately.
We prefer to drop candy to your children rather than bombs. But, candy will not drive out the Viet Cong. We hope that in the interest of the National Just Cause and to protect your lives your will be pleased to sacrifice some individual privileges, and will all move to a free Government of Vietnam controlled area where the necessary bombing will not harm you or your family.
The General Hay Letter
Leaflet 246-391-67 was in the form of a personal letter from American General Hay to his opposite number on the enemy side.
Captain Edward N. Voke, S2 (Intelligence) staff officer of the 6th PSYOP Battalion from 1966 to 1967 told me about a leaflet which tells of the enemy of their dead lying unburied on the battlefield: He considered this leaflet one of the best he had seen:
One of the most effective leaflets I ever saw was printed after one of the battles in 1966 or 1967. A U.S. Infantry Division Commanding General wrote a letter to the enemy division Commanding General (on regular 2-star stationery; English on one side & Vietnamese on the other), informing him that his North Vietnamese troops had disgraced themselves on the field of battle. The American general said that he had buried the North Vietnamese dead and was carrying for the wounded; and if he could do anything else, to please contact him. We later heard the full background on that battle. Apparently, the U.S. forces were beating and pushing back the North Vietnamese slowly, and the enemy was pulling back in good order. Then, a North Vietnamese machine-gunner in the center platoon panicked, jumped up and ran to the rear. Seeing this, other troops around him also began to run to the rear and it opened up the center of the North Vietnamese defense. The American forces exploited the sudden weakness and caved in the enemy with terrible losses to the North Vietnamese.
If the enemy Battalion Commander knew what caused the rout he probably didnt want to tell his boss. The American Commanding Generals nice letter let the North Vietnamese Army Commanding General let everyone in the immediate vicinity know of the divisions cowardice. I heard that many copies of the letter were dropped over the enemys area of operations. We later heard that the North Vietnamese battalion and regiment commanders were relieved. This was by far the best PSYOP leaflet I ever saw by a US combat unit.
The leaflet says in Vietnamese and English:
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION
OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING GENERAL
SUBJECT:Unsoldierly Conduct of Officers of Cong Truong 9
TO: Commanding General
Cong Truong 9
HT 86500 YK
This is to advise you that during the battle of Ap Bau Bang. On 20 March the Regimental Commander of Q763 and his battalion commanders disgraced themselves by performing in an unsoldierly manner.
During this battle with elements of this Division and attached units your officers failed to accomplish their mission and left the battlefield covered with dead and wounded from their units.
We have buried your dead and taken care of your wounded from this battle.
J. H. Hay
Major General USA
Warrant Officer 1 Chip Decker flew the Huey helicopter for the 128th Assault Helicopter Co. (Tomahawks) in Vietnam. He told me that in regard to the General Hay letter-leaflet:
I was just 19 years old back then. This is a leaflet I dropped in 1967 in III Corps. It is two-sided with Vietnamese text on one side and English on the other. I kept about a half-dozen as souvenirs but now I am down to just one. I know at least two boxes about two feet square full of the leaflets were dropped from my helicopter. I have one of the leaflets in my personal military paperwork. Usually we were working for the Division S2 (Intelligence) or S3 (Operations) out of Dian. We supported the 1st Infantry Division, the 25th Infantry Division, the 99th Light Infantry Brigade, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and sometimes the Vietnamese Army Division.
One other thing, the air flow around the belly of the Huey would trap leaflets against the helicopters underbelly skin and when we landed back at Division the rotor wash reacting to the ground surface would blow all the leaflets stuck on the belly all over the division helipad!
We would also drop the different Chieu Hoi leaflets all the time for the Division and run some of the loudspeaker missions. It was just another day in paradise.
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.
Edwin Roberts says in The Psychological War for Vietnam, 1960-1968: University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 2018:
Leaflet production since February at the 6th Battalions printing plant had exceeded 200 million leaflets by the fall. During the first part of the reporting period, four presses arrived from Hawaii to supplement the overworked presses. However, incessant heavy use caused the multilith presses to break down frequently. As a result, the staff began working on a modified table of organization and equipment to consider the greatly increased workload. By August, the 6th PSYOP Battalion sent forward to the department of Army a proposed table of organization and equipment for a PSYOP Group and new PSYOP Battalion formations.
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.
Combat Operations: Staying the Course: October 1967 to September 1968, Erik B. Villard, Center of Military History United States Army Washington, D.C., 2017, mentions PSYOP campaigns in the areas controlled by the 25th Infantry Division and the II Field Force. Since the 6th PSYOP Battalion supported both of these combat units we know that they were responsible for the PSYOP actions listed:
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 25th Divisions support for pacification in Hau Nghia involved the counter-infrastructure campaign. The Vietnamese government and CORDS advisers had established District Intelligence and Operations Coordination Centers in all of Hau Nghias districts. These centers brought together all of the entities generating intelligence at the district levelbe they civil, military, paramilitary, police, or intelligencefor the purpose of sharing information on the enemy. Overseeing the effort in Bao Trai was a U.S.-Vietnamese Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation committee whose primary goal was to ferret out the Viet Cong politico-military apparatus. Among its activities was the publication of a most wanted list. This was as much a psychological as a counterintelligence action because the names on the list were not necessarily the Viet Cong the allies most wanted to neutralize, but the ones upon which they had the most information and who were therefore the easiest to target. The idea was to announce a target and then to eliminate him as soon as possible, thereby making a disproportionate impression on both the citizenry and the Viet Cong. After the publication of the first such list in November, the allies flooded the province with over a million leaflets naming known Viet Cong. The 25th Division assigned a permanent liaison officer to the committee
The number of Revolutionary Development teams in III Corps stood at around one hundred and was set to grow by another thirty in the next few months. From November 1967 through January 1968, U.S. Army and Air Force aviation in III Corps had delivered 468 million propaganda leaflets and 2,396 hours of broadcasts from the air.
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.
Specialist 5 Kenneth Bennett of the 6th PSYOP Battalion flew missions in this U-10 PSYOP aircraft nicknamed: "Speed Kills" in 1968. Ken said:
An appropriate name for an aircraft. In our case, even traveling fast we still had many bullet holes in the plane but none in me or the Air Force pilot. I remember being draped over my seat, operating a tape player in the U10.
In 1968 and 1969 I was dropping all those leaflets from a small hole in the rear of a C47. Earning your flight wings and extra pay wasn't easy while stuffing propaganda through the hole, and my puking a US Army breakfast each flight: Give up, lay down your arms and I promise to quit puking Army food on you as you reach for the paper.
I was involved in the Propaganda Development Center (PDC) with the 6th PSYOP Battalion. I am remembering maneuvering heavy boxes of propaganda, on my hands and knees, trying to not roll over as the pilot, let's call him "Sky King" is banking the plane for another run.
A few weeks after arriving at 6th PSYOP Battalion, they wanted an enlisted man in PDC. The Colonel couldn't get anyone so I volunteered. He said: You're a Private, I need a Specialist 5. I said, Sir, you're a colonel, can't you promote me; you won't regret it. A couple weeks went by and I was a SP5. I answered to him only and he never regretted promoting me.
On another occasion Bennett talked about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was flying over what was supposed to be a Post B-52 bombed area. It was normal to go in after the bombing and tell the enemy that the B-52s would come back again and recommend that they go Chieu Hoi and turn themselves in. The enemy is considered more compliant after a bombing when they are all beat to hell and concussed. Well, in this case the timing was not quite right. Bennett says:
I was playing the Propaganda Tapes, we began taking on enemy ground fire and trying to get the hell out of there. Just as we were a short distance away, a B-52s began dropping bombs. He was late arriving for the mission. I can't repeat the heated conversation the colonel had with the controller and/or the other pilot. All I remember, the concussions shook the hell out of our Air Force U-10 plane in the picture.
Curiously, Chad Spawr who is mentioned elsewhere in this article also flew missions in this aircraft. Chad talks about the missions he flew on the aircraft Speed Kills.
Let me give a short Introduction to these war stories: I joined 6th PSYOP Battalion in late August 1968 upon conclusion of my first Republic of Vietnam tour. I had served with the 1st Infantry Division and with Military Assistance Command Vietnam-47 as part of the advisory team in An Loc. I volunteered to extend my tour for six additional months in exchange for the promise that I could go to any US Army unit I chose. I met a fellow from 6th Battalion on my R&R (Rest and Relaxation) trip, and he "sold" me on joining the 6th Battalion in Bien Hoa. After a year in the field, I wanted a bed, showers, clean clothes, and regular food.The 6th Battalion offered that.My job in 6th Battalion's A Company was in the S-2 as an Intelligent Analyst; there were not enough people to fly the many aerial PSYOP missions the Battalion was tasked with, so I agreed to fly missions whenever possible. These were usually UH-1 leaflet missions or C-47 leaflet missions.
A B-52 dropping bombs
Chad also was in the wrong place at the wrong time:
I had a similar experience in a Huey between Tay Ninh and Quan Loi. Our pilot didn't check the NOTAMS [A "Notice to Airmen" or NOTAM is a notice containing information not known sufficiently in advance to publicize by other means] before we left Tay Ninh. We found ourselves in the middle of a bombing mission.
X marks the spot - just a jungle being blown all to hell
There is simply no experience like flying through a B-52 strike. There is no earthquake or other natural disaster that brings your sense of mortality so close to the surface. Here is what happened. It was in late February or early March 1969. My PSYOP chopper was flying missions near Tay Ninh and DauTieng, and we'd been flying almost all day. We initially launched from Quan Loi basecamp, about 40 miles to the east. Our initial missions unloaded leaflets into the Michelin rubber plantation near Dau Tieng. We then flew to Tay Ninh where we reloaded with different leaflets and a speaker frame that was loaded and wired into the Huey's power. This began a series of 4 or 5 missions around Tay Ninh and Black Virgin Mountain. As we flew missions near the mountain, we took fire from small arms, but no heavy machine guns. These missions last most of the day. When we were finished, we returned to Tay Ninh, offloaded the speakers, and picked up a passenger who needed to go back to Quan Loi. I was sitting on the left hand side of the Huey.
We were flying at around 4.500 feet and we were about halfway through the trip when we took ground fire, this time from a Russian .51 caliber heavy machine gun, but it was very inaccurate fire. Shortly afterward, we experienced a huge blast and buffeting, and looking out toward the rear, I could see huge explosions coming our way faster than we were flying. The gunner (sitting right behind me) radioed the pilot to turn hard left to get out of the path of the explosions. The aircraft turned sharply, but we continued to be heavily buffeted by the explosions.
The pilot did a 180 degree turn to bring us parallel to the track of the bombs. We could clearly see what it was. The dust and debris flew very high, but nowhere near our aircraft, and now that we were about a half-mile away, the buffeting was less severe. When we got back to Quan Loi, we all jumped out and inspected the aircraft for shrapnel damage, but there was none. The cockpit crew had evidently radioed ahead that we had flown through an "Arclight Box" but were not damaged. As we unloaded our gear, the aviation company commander drove up and began reaming both pilots for the flight. As a matter of fact, the "Arclight Box" for that day had been posted at the Tay Ninh heliport, on a document known as a NOTAM. Had they checked that before we departed Tay Ninh, I'm sure we would have seen the B-52 strike, but from a much safer distance. There is no "safe distance" when you are in "the Box." I always wondered if those two pilots ever had to do the shit-burning detail in the aviation latrine area. It would have served them right.
Disseminating Leaflets from a Chute
Story One: In approximately late September or October 1968 I was asked to fly on a U-10 mission dropping leaflets over a VC/NVA unit trapped by the South Vietnamese Army and American troops against the Dong Nai River near Bien Hoa. We loaded leaflets quickly on the aircraft Speed Kills, coordinated the mission with the pilot, and then took off for the target. When we arrived, our pilot set up our leaflet runs in coordination with the Forward Air Controller (FAC) controlling the airspace. We would fly at around 800 feet over trapped enemy soldiers, dropping "Safe Conduct" passes. This required that I lean backwards over the seat back, and toss leaflets one handful at a time through a small chute installed in the fuselage. We began the first run, but immediately took enemy fire, and the pilot was "juking" wildly to avoid incoming fire. Bent over the seat back tossing leaflets in a wildly gyrating aircraft was very disconcerting, not the least of which was the fact that I had eaten breakfast only a couple of hours before learning of the required flight. After one or two of these passes, I could not control my stomach, and literally tossed a large "barf leaflet" through the chute to the enemy soldiers below. The pilot thought this was funny, and we continued the mission. Our aircraft took several small-arms hits in the wings and fuselage, but nothing serious. Once the leaflets were expended, we returned to Bien Hoa airbase to reload for a repeat of the mission. It was now almost lunchtime, and the last thing I wanted to do was eat anything. As we patched the holes, reloaded and refueled, I asked the pilot if we could change "Speed Kills" name to "the Vomit Comet." He did not agree.
Aircraft Crewman Wings
Story Two: In late November 1968, just before I left the Republic of Vietnam for my 30-day "special leave" in the United States, I was asked to fly another "Speed Kills" mission. I readily accepted as this flight would complete the number of required missions to earn my Aircraft Crewman Badge (wings). The mission was an overflight of a North Vietnamese Army base camp discovered about 5 kilometers north and east of the Quan Loi base camp. I don't remember the messages we were to drop, but suspect it was of the variety to encourage Northern enemy soldiers to miss their homes and families in the north, thereby lowering their morale in anticipation of the Tet Lunar New Year. We departed Bien Hoa airbase loaded with leaflets and flew to Quan Loi, from which we vectored to the enemy base camp area. We could see it clearly, as it was being attacked, controlled by an Air Force Forward Air Controller (FAC). Our pilot checked in with the FAC, and we orbited pending "our turn" to make our leaflet passes. The passes were to occur between 800 and 1000 feet above the ground. We made rapid descent from orbit altitude into the base camp area, and I began tossing leaflets as fast as possible. By the time we'd made about five "gun runs" as the pilot called them, most of our leaflets were expended. We made one more pass, and this time took heavy small arms fire from the base camp area. We were low enough we could hear the automatic fire, and saw dozens of green tracers around us. As we began climbing out of our last run, our aircraft took several hits in the rear fuselage. They sounded like we were being hit with ball-peen hammers. Fortunately, the hits did not damage anything but aircraft surface. We immediately exited the area, telling the FAC of our hits. He cleared us out of the area.
Our pilot decided that we could return to Bien Hoa, approximately one hour south.Once we established our cruise profile, the pilot opened a thermos of coffee, and asked me to fly the plane. I asked him "are you out of your mind? I don't know how to fly!" He simply said to hold the current compass heading and altitude, and he'd take care of anything else. So, I did, and it was pretty cool. He drank his coffee (never offering me any), then took back control of the plane, flew us into Bien Hoa and landed. After we parked, he handed me a roll of green metallic tape and told me to help him patch the bullet holes. I recall patching 5 or 6 holes, and he patched others. It seemed like just another day in the office. But, I earned my wings, and have worn them proudly ever since.
That first flying experience in the right seat stayed with me; in 1980, I completed my flight training and became a private pilot. I used to fly on business to California, and loved it. It has been over 35 years now since I've flown, but it was a great experience. I just can't afford to do it these days with the price of fuel.
Tiger Shot by American Troops in Vietnam
It was not only the Wandering Soul tape that was played by the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam. Sometimes the Wandering Soul tape was used in conjunction with other sounds to multiply the fear in the heart of the enemy. A former member of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me:
You know what we did on Nui Ba Den Mountain in 1970? The 6th PSYOP got an Air Force pilot to fly to Bangkok, to get an actual recording of a tiger from their zoo. We had a Chieu Hoi (rallier to the national government from enemy ranks) come down the mountain and tell of a tiger that was attacking the Viet Cong for the past few weeks. So, we mixed the tiger roar onto a tape of 69-T, "The wandering soul," and a 2-man team got up on the mountain, played the tape and 150 Viet Cong came off that mountain.
I had hoped to place tape 69 here but there were hundreds and I have 58 and 71 but am missing the one I wanted. Just to show the reader what a tape is like, here is 71, to be read over the loudspeaker in Vietnamese in 40 seconds.
Are you sick? Have you been wounded? Are you one of those who might die horribly, and alone? If you want to live, if you want to see your family again, give yourself up to the government of Vietnam or Allied Forces now. You will be well treated with modern equipment and medicine. Dont wait until it is too late. Time is precious and getting short. Give yourself up now. The Government of Vietnam cares about your welfare. You need not die a useless death!
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.
Retired Major Nelson Volk told me about his 1966-1967 tour in the 6th PSYOP Battalion:
We had Cyclos [individual bicycle-rickshaws] with rear screen projection systems to show movies to the locals. They used small reels and required frequent changes, which provided the time/opportunity to address the audience about whatever topics and subjects were being promoted. Fumble-fingered reel changers provided additional time for delivering the message. The films were popular as entertainment and diversion and one night when the lights came on to change reels, someone spotted the local Viet Cong commander, who had come in to enjoy the entertainment, and he was caught.
In the past you have mentioned the use of bright colors on leaflets. We started using color after doing some research into the meanings of colors to the Vietnamese; not long after I left the research was redone and my S2 (Intelligence) Section Sergeant sent me a copy. Example: lavender implied emotion associated with love, love of family, etc., and the popular romantic magazines of the day used a lot of lavender ink. So, our leaflet urging the soldier to think about the conditions faced by his faraway wife and children had the message in lavender. By the way, early on I wanted to check with the Japanese to see what they had on the meanings of color. My thought was that the Japanese were marketing stuff all over Asia, were good at it, and probably had researched the subject. I hope somebody at Bragg has started collecting and updating the meaning of colors around the world, and has checked to see what the marketing people have on the subject.
[Authors note] During Desert Storm it was discovered that the color red signals danger to an Iraqi and he would be hesitant to pick up a leaflet with a lot of red in the image or text. Many early leaflets that used a lot of red were found to be unsuccessful, and the color might have been a contributing factor. Allegedly, there was an official recommendation to remove any trace of the color red, which is a danger signal to Iraqis.
This is surely not the leaflet Major Volk mentions
However, it does offer gold for Pilots
The leaflet is colored a bright golden yellow with the message on the front. PSYOP records indicate that 6 million copies were printed and forwarded to the flight line at Nha Trang.
50 Taels of Gold
There was a concern about the recovery of downed aircrews. To increase the recovery rate we were asked to prepare a leaflet that offered a reward in gold for those recovered. We thought that having what looked like money on one side of the leaflet would attract people to it. Our people went to the Republic of Vietnam officials and got a sample of an obsolete bill banknote. We used that bill, in the opposite color, for one side of the leaflet; with the reward message for the other side. The reason for choosing a different color was to further distance ourselves from counterfeiting charges, even though it was supposed to be obsolete currency we were copying. A batch of the leaflets was produced and sent off. Later, we got feedback that the leaflets were being used as currency in some of the more remote western areas of I & II Corps. We ran a quick check and found out the sample bill we had copied was not obsolete as we had been told! That was exciting news, and we wondered if we had counterfeited in our innocence!
It was the guys in the companies in the field who were out there doing the real work. I saw my job as assisting and not hindering the companies. We collected information and intelligence from the companies and a number of other sources like Special Forces, the Viet Cong, the North Vietnamese Army, and the South Vietnamese Army etc. We did analyses, looked for trends, made projections and then passed the word to the companies as appropriate. We made periodic reports and a few special reports and passed them to a wide variety of activities, to include the Reserve PSYOP units. The S2 shop did analysis for each Combat Tactical Zone. They of course talked to each other and, in addition, about every week we got together for a session where we talked things over and all were encouraged to comment and make suggestions. At Battalion level we did a few leaflets, some research, and some things really beyond our scope. Some of our people stumbled across some very
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.
Specialist 5 Kenneth Bennett
Specialist 5 Kenneth Bennett was also a member of the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam. His unit adopted an orphanage; one run by Catholic nuns in Bien Hoa. The unit helped care for the children on a regular basis. They often bought food and milk for them.
The Nuns care for the Orphans
There was a minor medical emergency because the infamous hungry Vietnam rats would enter the orphanage at night and sometimes gnaw the fingers, nose, or toes, of the children. The volunteers found rabbit wire on black market and covered the doors and windows and virtually ended the rat problem. The troops also built an 8-foot high wooden fence to keep bad things outside and the children safe inside. Nobody talked about expenditures or how much money they laid out. They just did it. Their hearts were in the right place. For many of the troops, helping the children was great therapy, considering they were living in a war torn country and missing their families and homes. This was a way to think about what you could do for helpless orphans instead of thinking about the injuries and deaths of your buddies.
The Orphans in their Classroom
They sponsored birthday parties for the orphans. The 6th Battalion members spent as much time as possible helping and doing all that was needed to keep the place running safely. The children were mostly GI babies and if the women kept them, they had hell to pay for having relationship with men, especially American soldiers. That has not changed much to this day. The Vietnamese still look down of children of mixed races.
Ken said that a few years ago he and his wife visited Vietnam and found the orphanage and all the old buildings in Tan Mai, near Bien Hoa. A Catholic Nun gave them a tour. From third floor, He could still clearly see the church and the old buildings he knew from the war. Eventually he had to walk away, trying to hold back tears. The 3-story orphanage had become a dumping ground for children with severe birth defects.
First Lieutenant Dennis Smiser with a NVA Hoi Chanh defector, Vietnam 1969
From the Psychological Operations Veterans Association Newsletter (POVA):
During the Viet-Nam War, many officers were trained as advisors and sent to Viet-Nam to advise both American and Vietnamese units on matters related to Psychological Operations. Former Army officer Dennis Smiser attended and completed the Military Advisor Training Academy (MATA) course at Ft. Bragg in 1967 before deploying to Vietnam, where he was assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion from 1967 to 1969. Here is Dennis recollection of the training regime at Ft. Bragg:
The MATA Curriculum as I remember centered on Culture, Religions, Geopolitics, History, and Casual language training. The course lasted 6 weeks and was pretty intense. After graduation 16 of us continued training. After completion my MOS has a 1 designator added. Supposedly the Army field grades did too. There were very interesting classes and some actually changed many of my opinions. Most classes were classified.
Chad Spawr and Dennis Smiser served together in the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Viet-Nam. While working with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment north of Bien Hoa in a village seal-and-search operation, the seal was put in place during hours of darkness, preventing anybody either entering or leaving the village.
In the morning, when beginning the search process, Lieutenant Dennis Smiser walked out of one of the village hootches complete with rucksack and weapons. When asked how he got into the village, he simply said hed been there all night. He then retrieved a man who turned out to be a North Vietnamese Hoi Chanh defector, who Dennis had convinced to surrender during the night, alone, with no support.
Comic book 2078
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.
A PSYOP Mobile Audiovisual Information Collection and Dissemination System (MSQ-85) waiting for the ferry on the dock at Can Tho. The MSQ-85 was the primary system in the U.S. inventory designated for tactical point dissemination of video products in other-than-broadcast mode. The AN/MSQ-85 includes a printing press, an AQ-4A movie projector, AN/UIH-6 loudspeaker public address system, AP-9 slide projector, AN/USH two-track international standard tape recorder, BM-22A large projection screen and R-520A/UUR radio receiver, a case of hand grenades, three cases of C-rations, a roll of toilet paper, and a generator. The trailer in the back could have anything from leaflets, magazines, and gifts of soap, to 105mm rounds (full of leaflets).
In early 1969, an AN/MSQ-85 team led by Lieutenant John Hilton and Specialist 4 Bruce Berglund of the 6th PSYOP Battalion was attacked in a Vietnamese village during an evening movie presentation. A satchel charge was thrown into the crew cab, where it exploded and destroyed the interior. The PSYOP team was not in the vehicle at the time; they had been accompanied by troops from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment on this operation for security, and the team was able to return to Battalion HQ in Bien Hoa.
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 Group 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.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Group in Okinawa print 6 million copies of Ho Chi Minh Trail leaflet T-25 with the theme: "Return home, seek refuge in Laos" to be delivered by 25 December 1967. This leaflet uses the theme of the TET holidays to entice the enemy to return home or seek refuge in Laos. The image depicts a happy and prosperous family celebrating the TET holidays. The back is all text and says:
To all North Vietnamese fighters:
Spring has returned. This is a time when you should be enjoying the happiness of family reunion in the North. Instead, you are walking through hostile jungles and mountains on foreign soil.
What has led you to this life of hardship? It is because you have been lured by the Party into believing that the South is in need of Liberation by the North. In reality, the South is living in prosperity. Your comrades have turned it into a sea of fiery war with consequences reaching all the way to the North. Your southern compatriots do not wish to be liberated by the North; they only wish to live in peace.
You can end this war and your hardships by choosing a cease-fire of your own. Deny the Party the use of your person as a tool to impose Party rule on South Vietnam.
Quit the Communist ranks, return to your homes, seek refuge with the Royal Lao Government, or, if you reach South Vietnamese territory, take the opportunity to rally to the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. This is the safest way to end the war and you hardships.
I like this patriotic little leaflet because it gives the people a copy of the flag of the Republic Of Vietnam. It is far more impressive in color, but many more copies were done in black and white. The back is all text and says in part:
Support your Government
The Government of Vietnam and Allied Forces have once again shown their strength and power in an effort to bring peace and prosperity to the people of South Vietnam. Since 4 May 1968, more than 3,000 enemies have died while trying to bring death and destruction to our homes and cities You must protect your family by telling the Government of Vietnam and the Army of Vietnam where the enemy is hiding. This way they will be destroyed before they come to your villages. Support your government and peace will once again return to our land.
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.
Iran Rescue mission
Sometimes the Battalion was simply called to help support Special Force missions without even knowing what the mission was. In other cases the mission is humanitarian but could quickly turn dangerous. One former member of the 6th PSYOP Battalion told me:
Our support mission for Special Forces Phase training was an ongoing affair. They borrowed equipment from us all the time and were surprisingly good about returning it to us in good condition. One day I was handed a letter by someone who looked like a very serious civilian that ordered me to have three specific vehicles ready for delivery on such and such a date at such and such a time (very late at night). This was very out of the ordinary for us. We were to remove all markings and have all the canvass complete and in place. The letter listed the estimated return date as to be announced. That was even more unusual for us. As it turned out, the vehicles were used to train for the failed mission in April 1980 to rescue the American hostages in Iran. The vehicles never left the States, so I was told after the fact, but, they were nowhere near Ft Bragg for the training. It was a very grim time on Smoke Bomb Hill for quite a while. Some very good people who were the absolute best at what they did never came home for reasons they had zero control over.
The Cuban Mariel Boat Lift
The Mariel Boat Lift
On April 20, 1980, the Castro regime announced that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. were free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana, launching the Mariel. The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Florida the next day. It was discovered that a number of the exiles had been released from Cuban jails and mental health facilities. They were placed in refugee camps while others were held in federal prisons to undergo deportation hearings. Of the 125,000 Marielitos, as the refugees came to be known, who landed in Florida, more than 1,700 were jailed and another 587 were detained until they could find sponsors.
Sergeant Ronald F. Marcil
Many of the Cubans were taken to the Army Base at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. PSYOP troops were used to print newsletters, make loudspeaker broadcasts and generally keep the peace. A former 6th PSYOP Battalion sergeant named Ron Marcil sent there to provide support told me:
The 6th PSYOP Battalion was sent to Ft Indiantown Gap to work with the State Department. Our mission was to print the camp newspaper. The Mariel Boat Lift was my last hurrah so to speak. The State Department had the camp organized in separate areas. Area 1 was the bad apples; many were known criminals. Area 2 was the homosexuals, a very friendly place too friendly. Area 3 was mainly single men and on up to area 5 which was families. As people were sponsored, they moved out. By the time I got there, area 5 was empty; and Area 4 had very few left. Needless to say, area 1 and 2 was still full.
The Jeep wrecked by the Cubans
A few weeks into my routine, I was told to come quick, a riot had started. By the time I got there, my jeep was missing. The driver had backed it up to the building with the trailer attached to it so they could clear the building of our valuable gear before it got torn up. He left it running and didn't lock it, two Cubans saw that and came up over the wire, hopped in and took off. The story I heard was that something like 34 Cuban nationals were in and on my jeep when they flipped it. The driver was very badly injured; the rest were thrown clear. I have a very poor picture of that jeep on the back of a wrecker.
During the riot, a C-130 landed on the runway and when the ramp came down, out poured 120 combat loaded paratroopers from the 82nd. They formed up on the runway and double timed over to area 1 very slowly. Not one work was spoken from them. Dead silence. They jogged slowly through the area. Not 1 word spoken. The Cubans saw them and within a very short time, everyone went back inside the building and things quieted down. Not a word spoken. No one went inside the wire! Once they were given the OK, they marched back to their C130 and off they went. That was the most brilliant PSYOP in action even I had ever witnessed.
I read another description of this action written by one of the soldiers involved in the Hardscrabble Farmer Website. The stories differ slightly but one is coming from a PSYOP observer and the other from one of the airborne troops called to Indiantown Gap:
From a distance, you could see pillars of smoke rising from the camp and you could smell it on the wind. It was a hot day and we wore battle fatigues and jump boots. Our shields were lowered, visors turned down and we marched with a slow and steady cadence; left foot stamping down, right foot dragging at a 90-degree angle behind, a stomp, drag, stomp, drag that magnified by 120 other soldiers gave us the sound of something formidable, an organic machine filled with ominous intent. With each step we took, we would rap the back of our shields with the tip of the baton in unison, a sharp crack to emphasize each step forward.
The mob was jumping and screaming; some of them holding weapons fashioned from broken bunk beds and ruined buildings. At the same time that we saw them, they saw us. In that instant, all the sounds, the acrid sting of burning mattresses, the steady vibration of 240 boot-shod feet hitting the ground at precisely the same second, the World simply stopped in its tracks. The sound of our boots on the street, the crack of maple against metal the unified chuff of each breath that you could hear as if it were your own suddenly became the only presence in my thoughts and in that instant, you could see it move like a light wave out and away from us, traveling tsunami-like towards the Marielitos. And that was it. They dropped whatever they were carrying, they broke and ran. Not one shot was fired, not one man was so much as tapped with a baton.
The Indiantown Gap Newsletter La Libertad for Cuban Refugees
Lieutenant Colonel Michael W Totten
A message from the 6th PSYOP Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Michael W Totten in the above newsletter said:
The 6th PSYOP Battalion is uniquely equipped and trained to support projects like Operation Resettlement. Our mobile and highly flexible printing equipment makes it possible for us to produce a wide variety of printed material on very short notice. In fact, among other things; we are producing the camp newsletter, La Libertad. Our public address and mobile audio-visual equipment enable us to reach large audiences rapidly with perishable information or entertainment. Our most important asset, however, is our soldiers. They are the highly-skilled and motivated professionals who make the equipment work. Many of them are linguists, and several speak more than one foreign language. They make our operations effective.
As usual when you are dealing with newcomers to the United States who are not aware of the customs, the PSYOP newsletters almost always has instructional cartoons. When it was Vietnamese and Muslim refugees much of the instructions had to do with the American way of sanitation. The concept of toilet paper was very strange for many Muslims who were used to cleansing themselves with a damp rag. The cartoon above shows a lone Cuban boy cleaning up the mess left by the older Cubans. He drags a bag so full that the garbage is bursting out of the back. He says:
What a lot of trouble it is for those grown-ups over there to pick up a piece of paper.
Instructional Cartoon Two
Cartoon two is more in the form of pest control. When you go through basic training if you bring food back to your barracks you are in a world of trouble. The Army knows that food left in foot lockers or closets tend to invite ants, roaches, mice, rats and God only know what else into the living quarters. Apparently the Cubans were prohibited from bringing food into their quarters because two are depicted talking and one says:
Brother, lets behave well; people are going to feel ill will against us.
His companion replies:
Well? If you say so; lets begin by not bringing any food out of the mess hall.
As an aside, the last time I visited Ft. Bragg and used the term mess hall from my generation, I was corrected and told that the term was now dining facility, mess hall was considered a derogatory term. God, I love politically correct people!
The Newsletter mentions that each area has its own elected Mayor and even a local Cuban police force to keep the peace. I thought it funny that the worst criminal problems seem to be from the homosexuals. The explanation is: Here in America, homosexuality is not a crime, so it appears that gays are enjoying their new-found freedom, perhaps in an exaggerated way, and causing problems by agitating straight men and families who do like their children to see or hear certain things. There is a radio station with Spanish speaking Disk Jockey and Cuban music. The American Red Cross offers first aid and health safety classes as well as English classes and supplies for drawing, painting, writing, and even musical instruments. The Cubans had their own theater where they put on plays. It seems that everything possible was done to keep them busy while they awaited sponsors.
The 4th PSYOP Group Booklet: Leaflets of the Persian Gulf War
At about 0200 on 2 August 1990, seven divisions of Iraqi armor, mechanized infantry, helicopter forces, and the elite Republic Guard invaded Kuwait. The invasion force of 120,000 troops and 2,000 tanks quickly overwhelmed Kuwait. Iraq declared the annexation of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government-in-exile fled to Saudi Arabia where it was recognized as the legitimate voice of Kuwait. President George Bush immediately froze all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the United States and called on Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 660 and 662 condemned Iraq's invasion and annexation and called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces.
On 20 August 1990, President Bush signed National Security Directive 45, the U.S. Policy in Response to the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait." The U.S. objectives included the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and the restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government to replace the puppet regime installed by Iraq. President George Bush authorized the first call-up of 40,000 Selected Reservists for 90 days active duty on 22 August 1990. By November Bush upped the active duty time to 180 days with the option of a 180-day extension. On 18 January 1991, Bush signed an order authorizing 220,000 Reservists to be called up for 12 months.
A U.N. ultimatum, Security Council Resolution 678, followed on November 29, 1990. It gave Saddam Hussein until 15 January 1991 to leave Kuwait. After that time, a coalition of American and allied troops was authorized to drive them out. Eventually, 30 nations joined the military coalition arrayed against Iraq, with a further 18 countries supplying economic, humanitarian, or other type of assistance.
It is difficult to find much about what the 6th PSYOP Battalion did in Desert Storm. We know that they were there, but most of the official publications do not mention battalions, they usually just point out that PSYOP forces from the 4th Group were deployed.
Colonel Noll wrote a 164-page Personal Experience Monograph entitled The 13th Psychological Operations Battalion (EPW) During Mobilization, Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Demobilization in 1993. The 6th PSYOP Battalion is mentioned several times in regard to Desert Storm and the relief of the Kurdish people:
It was decided that all of the reserve companies would be attached to the 6th and 9th Tactical PSYOP Battalions for command and control and for support of the combat units in theater On 14 April 1991 the 4th POG commander and staff along with all its operationally assigned units departed Saudi Arabia for Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The 6th PSYOP Battalion, however, was deployed to northern Iraq in support of "Operation Provide Comfort."
Jeffrey B. Jones and Jack N. Summe mention the 6th Battalion exactly one time in their 1997 paper: Psychological Operations in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Urban Freedom
By mid-January 1991, the task force had grown to five battalions, including the 6th PSYOP Battalion in support of VII Corps.
We dont know exactly which leaflets were made by the 6th PSYOP Battalion, but they were supporting VII Corps and some leaflets do mention the Corps.
VII Corps Patch
Iraqi thinks of Overwhelming Power of Coalition, Thinks of his Family, and Surrenders
The back has a Cease resistance message and the VII Corps symbol which is similar to the Star of David. The text is:
Cease resistance - Be safe
To seek refuge safely, the bearer must strictly adhere to the following procedures:
1. Remove the magazine from your weapon.
2. Sling your weapon over your left shoulder, muzzle down.
3. Have both arms raised above your head.
4. Approach the Multi-national forces slowly, with the soldier holding this document above his head.
5. If you do this, you will not die.
This is a deception leaflet used to hold Iraqi Army in central Kuwait. The symbol of the VII Corps is on the leaflet in hopes that the Iraqi Army would believe that they were facing that organization In fact, VII Corps had moved far to the west of the expected battleground. 270,000 leaflets were printed. It is alleged that because the Corps symbol of a seven-pointed star was similar to the six-pointed Hebrew Star of David, the Iraqi troops fought more fiercely where it was dropped. It is believed that Iraqi intelligence told their troops that they were facing Israeli forces and this motivated the Iraqi soldiers to fight with religious fervor. It was also thought that this symbol might infuriate the other Muslim Coalition allies who would not want to be aligned with the Israelis. As a result, the symbol was quickly changed to a Jayhawk.
A New VII Corps Symbol, the Mythical Jayhawk
The text on the back is identical to the above leaflet.
This is another deception leaflet used to hold Iraqi Army in central Kuwait. The VII Corps symbol has been changed to a Jayhawk. 270,000 leaflets were printed.
Giant cannon with Coalition flags aimed at Iraqi
The text on the front is:
The VII Corps of the Multi-national forces is heading in your direction. Your fellow soldiers along the front either surrendered or have been killed. Your turn will be next.
The text on the back is:
Follow these procedures to cease resistance. Pull your ammunition magazine from your weapon. Put your weapon on your left shoulder and aim the barrel at the ground. Raise your hands over your head and walk slowly. Wave with a white cloth or raise this leaflet to show you are willing to surrender. All Allied soldiers know this initiative shows that you are willing to surrender.
Two hundred 155mm leaflet artillery shells were taken to the Gulf. Nine were actually fired at the enemy. The cannon leaflet above is one that was found in the shells. I had a warrant officer friend in EOD who actually opened some of the shells and gave me the leaflets rolled inside. He told me:
The leaflets were downloaded from the shells at the King Khalid Military City (KKMC) Theater Storage Facility Area 4 in January 1992. There were between 100 and 200 engineering prototype 155mm projectiles stored in two areas from two different units. They were unmarked but bore a metal parts number that indicated they were experimental and were produced in November 1990. A small quantity of the projectiles, perhaps 12-20, had been prepared for fire, loaded with leaflets, expulsion charges installed, but not fused. The leaflets were in four round bundles, separated by pusher plates, spacers, and enclosed in two semi-circular steel sleeves. I saw some evidence on the projectiles that they had been hastily converted from VX binary chemical shells. They were on the pallet in a horizontal rather than the normal upright configuration.
200,000 of the leaflets were printed. The Air Force claims to have dropped 311,000 and the artillery had 100,000 at their disposal, so once again we obviously do not have complete data on printing. This leaflet was designed by 4th PSYOP Group artist Tim Wallace.
VII Corps Certificate of Commendation
Provide Comfort Humanitarian Assistance to the Kurds
Psychological Operations Support for Operation Provide Comfort
In 1994, the 4th PSYOP Group published a 24-page booklet entitled Psychological Operations Support for Operation Provide Comfort. Curiously, the 6th PSYOP Battalion was mentioned just once on page two. The short comment was:
Elements of the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion deployed from Iraq and Fort Bragg, North Carolina to provide PSYOP support to the Combined Task Force located in Incirlik Air Force Base, Turkey. The Psychological Operations Task Force which was formed to support this operation was co-located with the Combined Task Force at Incirlik.
As the Gulf War came to an end, the Iraqis immediately began attacking the Muslim Shiites in the south and the Kurds in the North. This ultimately led to operations Southern and Northern Watch to guard the skies against Iraqi military aircraft. The emergency was such that it quickly led to Operation Provide Comfort, the attempt by the Coalition to protect and nourish the Kurdish people.
Kurdish Freedom Fighters
The Kurds tried to take local power in March 1991; occupied several towns and put the province of Mosul under siege. Saddam Hussein counter-attacked with a vengeance and his revamped Republic Guard drove the Kurds into the mountains. Kurds are the second largest ethnic group in Iraq and Turkey and the third largest group in Iran. Like the Armenians and Jews, the Kurds are a close-knit nationalistic people who want a nation of their own. This land, called Kurdistan, would be made up of parts of Turkey, Iran and Iraq. As a result, the Kurds are unwelcome in all three nations and there were numerous purges and pogroms against them over the centuries. For instance, The Kurds supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq War and as a result in 1988, hundreds of Kurdish villages in northern Iraq were destroyed, and as many as 200,000 Kurds were killed. The Iraqi government used chemical weapons against Kurdish soldiers and civilians alike, causing an international uproar. A March 1988 poison gas attack in Halabja, Iraq, killed an estimated 5,000 Kurds.
Kurdish refugees fled towards Turkey and Iran
After the failed rebellion, well over one million Kurds attempted to flee northward into Turkey and Iran. The Iranians accepted some of the fleeing people. The Turks, no friends of the Kurds, refused entry. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Kurdish men, women and children were left stranded in the mountains, starving, ill-prepared for the winter, and at the mercy of Iraqi forces. The temperatures were below freezing each night and the Kurds were dying by the hundreds due to lack of food, water, medicines, shelter, and blankets.
On 6 April 1991, President George Bush ordered that a Joint Task Force (JTF) be assigned the mission of protecting the Kurds of northern Iraq. Bush stated the political objectives of Operation Provide Comfort:
This is an interim measure designed to meet an immediate, penetrating humanitarian need. Our long-term objective remains the same for Iraqi Kurds, and indeed, for all Iraqi refugees, wherever they are, to return home and to live in peace, free from oppression, free to live their lives.
PSYOP Loudspeaker Humvee
A Psychological Operations Task Force (POTF) was formed to support the Combined Task Force. It consisted of 31 officers and soldiers. The POTF was broken up into a command and control element, a propaganda development center, a liaison cell, and loudspeaker teams. The POTF provided planning support and both printed and audio products to assist in the humanitarian relief effort. They produced leaflets, posters and broadcasts to tell about where food was available, what was in the Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), and explain the danger of land mines and how to avoid them. They also produced language cards containing key phrases in the local languages to assist JTF soldiers in communicating with refugees and local officials. At the height of the operation the POTF expanded to 78 officers and soldiers. The major PSYOP themes were: Introduction of Coalition forces, safety, aid distribution, health and sanitation, medical care, mine awareness, safe passage home, safe conduct passes, and command information. Company A, 6th PSYOP Battalion, also worked closely with Civil Affairs troops. PSYOP strength never exceeded fifty personnel.
The U.S. and its allies saved countless Kurds by establishing safe havens and
providing humanitarian assistance. Special Operations Forces spearheaded this effort.
I have about two dozen of the PSYOP leaflets prepared for the Kurds. They are mostly printed on poor quality paper and many are all text. For the purposes of this article I will select four items to give the readers an example of what was printed during this campaign.
This black and white leaflet depicts a family of Kurds arriving at a tent marked with a red cross and a green crescent. The man of the family shakes hands with soldiers guarding the tent. There are baskets and bags of food on the ground. There is no text on the front. Text on the back in English, Kurdish and Arabic is:
The time for violence is over. We must all find peace and harmony again. Guns will not be allowed inside the camp. If the international security forces at the checkpoints find a gun, you will not be allowed into the camp. In the name of Allah, seek peace in your heart; pray that Allah will give us compassion and forgiveness.
It was not enough, just to give aid. Sometimes what the aid was and how it was to be used had to be explained. This bright pink leaflet depicts an infant with a bottle. It was dropped with bundles of food to explain to the Kurds in English, Kurdish, Arabic, and Turcoman that the package contained baby food. The leaflet is also found in blue.
Stop! Dont Touch these Things.
A standard mine warning leaflet was prepared for the Kurds that is almost identical to the type prepared just months earlier during Operation Desert Storm. The earlier leaflets had some bright red color to catch the eye of the finder. The provide Comfort leaflets are in black and white, depict nine different explosives, and have text in English, Kurdish and Arabic:
Stop! Dont touch these things. Call the authorities.
In almost every war that the United States is involved in, at some point, language or Pointee-Talkee cards are prepared to help with communication. The speaker can pronounce or point at the word he wants the listener to understand. I have seen at least four such products produced for Operation Provide Comfort. This card shows the same words in English, Arabic and Kurdish.
Psychological Support to Operation Allied Force
The 4th PSYOP Group published a magazine entitled Psychological Support to Operation Allied Force in 1999. It gave the history of the U.S. PSYOP effort in the war against the ethnic cleansing ordered by the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. It regard to the 6th PSYOP Battalion is said in part:
In early August 1988, planners from the 6th PSYOP Battalion were dispatched to the 32nd Air Operations Group, U.S. Air Force Europe Headquarters, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to participate in planning for future operations in the area.
In February 1999, soldiers of the 4th Psychological Operations Group deployed to establish and form the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force in support of Joint Task Force NOBLE ANVIL. During the 78-day campaign, the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) developed over 40 different leaflets. More than 104.5 million leaflets were dropped throughout Serbia from the Air Forces MC-130 Hercules, F-16 fighters and B-52 bombers over the course of the campaign. The 6th POB formed the core of the JPOTF.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion established two Product Development Centers (PDC), one at the Warrior Preparation Center, near Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and one at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. The PDC at Ft. Bragg wrote the scripts for the radio and television program and translated products, while the PDC in Germany created the leaflets.
Their mission was to get the message of truth to the diverse masses, which included Serb military, police forces in Kosovo, and the civilian population in Belgrade as well as in the small towns and villages throughout the remainder of Serbia, and to Kosovo refugees in Albania and Macedonia.
The Psychological Operations Task Force prepared a multimedia campaign consisting of leaflets, handbills, posters, and radio and television broadcasts aimed at countering the distorted reports being fed to the Serbian people by their own government. This effort included informing the Serbian people of the scope and magnitude of Slobodan Milosevics campaign of mass murder, systematic rape, forced evacuation and destruction of Kosovo. Additionally, the PSYOP campaign served as a source of information and hope for the Kosovo refugees in Albania and Macedonia.
In March 1989, days after NATO began an air campaign against Yugoslavia, Commando Solo broadcast aircraft deployed to Europe. The 6th PSYOP Battalion soldiers working in the Product Development Center at Fort Bragg wrote a daily radio and television program for broadcast into Serbia over AM, FM and television frequencies. The broadcast was called Allied Voice Radio and Television.
Now that we have reported the official story of Operation Allied Force; I add some data from my own notes and previous articles I have written.
The United States found itself involved in the nation once called Yugoslavia several times in the past decades. There was a violent disintegration of that country after the death of Joseph Broz (Tito) in 1980. Tito had ruled a divided Serbian people. Those Serbs, the largest ethnic group of Yugoslavia, were spread over four "Socialist Federative Republics" and two Autonomous Regions. Much of this population shift had been caused by the Ottoman Empire conquests and the politics of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some 42% of the Serbs were located outside Serbia proper.
In 1989, a new nationalist leader by the name of Slobodan Milosevic took power in the Serbian Republic. He had previously served as the leader of Belgrade Communist Party and the Serbian Communist Party. He wanted to dominate all of the old Yugoslavia, but when it became clear that he could not, he decided upon the ethnic cleansing of his country and the creation of a Greater Serbia. He abolished Kosovo's autonomy. Croats and Slovenes feared that they were next in line. There were daily news reports of murders, rapes, mass killings and other atrocities carried out by the Serbs as Milosevic drove the minorities from their lands and homes, "purifying" his Greater Serbia. The problem of course, was that several portions of this new Greater Serbia were to consist of lands that had never been part of the old Serbia or populated by Serbians. This was a policy of naked aggression.
Two Operation Provide Promise aerial leaflets dropped on Bosnia
Two leaflets were prepared and dropped over Bosnia. They both depict a Hercules C-130 USAF cargo plane in front of a faint United States flag. Both leaflets picture crates falling by parachute marked with a bright red cross, and both are written in Serbo-Croat text, in Latin script on one side and Cyrillic on the other side.
On the first leaflet, the C-130 drops four containers. The leaflet tells the Serbs not to fire on the aircraft. They drop food for all the people. The text is:
American aircraft will be dropping humanitarian aid for all people. Do not fire on American aircraft. Food and medical supplies are intended for all people.
On the second leaflet, the C-130 drops three containers labeled "500 KG." This leaflet was prepared because of accidents that occurred in Somalia. Starving people rushed mindlessly into the drop zone only to be crushed by falling food crates. The leaflet text is:
Danger! For everyone's safety, let humanitarian aid land before approaching.
Milosevics actions forced the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces and begin humanitarian relief operations. Operation Provide Promise began on 2 July 1992. Twenty-one nations formed a coalition to resupply war-torn Sarajevo with food and medicine. The U.N. established "no-fly" zones over Bosnia. The United States mediated an agreement between the Bosnians, the Bosnian Croats, and the Government of Croatia to form a federation of Bosnians and Croats.
Before this first leaflet drop the U.S. Armys 6th PSYOP Battalion had many alerts, false starts and partial deployments while the great powers decided if the action would be solely by the United States, under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or the United Nations. As a result, these first leaflets were designed in three different formats in Germany. Eventually it was decided that this would be a NATO operation, but the decision was already made that the first leaflets would display the American flag. The images were faxed via a secure link back to Ft. Bragg for printing by the Product Dissemination Battalion. When the leaflets were delivered shortly before the first drop they were found to be poorly printed with a grainy appearance. The PSYOP troops were very disappointed with the quality but it was too late to make any changes or reprint the entire stock of leaflets.
There were numerous published reports of the aerial leafleting. On 25 February 1993, U.S. aircraft dropped about 600,000 leaflets over Srebrenica, Cerska, Gorazde, and Zera. On 27 February, two C-130s dropped another million leaflets. Five C-130s dropped 80 1-ton food containers on 28 February. Aircraft dropped another one million leaflets on 1 March.
The Superman PSYOP comic book
There were many other propaganda publications used in Bosnia. Perhaps the most interesting is the mine-warning 12-page Superman comic book entitled "Deadly Legacy" that was produced pro-bono with DC Comics. The cover shows the man of steel swooping down to save a two young boys who are about to pick up an explosive device on the ground. The back of the book shows Superman flying the children to safety and the text:
Superman has come to help the children of Bosnia-Herzegovina! But even when he can't be here, you can keep yourself safe from land mines! Mines kill kids! For more information on how you can prevent these accidents, call the mine action center.
Sergeant Mark Jenkins
Sarajevo Airport - Good Friday, 1996.
Sergeant Mark Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion was not very enthused about the comics. He was a stickler for details, planning and Intelligence studies and the comics just appeared one day with the order to disseminate them. He told me:
I disagreed with them on principle, i.e., that they were pushed on us from outside and had not gone through our campaign planning process, nor were they coordinated with any of our existing mine-awareness efforts. So my reaction, as I recall, was, Whatever, and I hoped they might do some good. But I was definitely worried it was further evidence of our pre-packaged ready-fire-aim approach to it all.
Then Major Roger Smith (Ret.) with then Captain Karl Zetmeir (Ret.)
My friend retired Lieutenant Colonel Karl Zetmeir, formerly of the 6th PSYOP Battalion, was the publisher of the Herald of Peace for a short time. He told me about his experience with the magazine:
One of the most professionally satisfying psychological operations products I ever worked on was the Herald of Peace. Though a relatively short-lived product, it represented the hard work and true dedication to our craft on the part of its PSYOP soldiers as no other. In a leaflet-dominated world often marked by simple illustrations and hip-shoot phraseology, the Herald of Peace stands in a class of its own.
The Herald of Peace
August 1997 The theme Election 97
We simply called it the HoP. It was a magazine produced by the Combined Joint Information Task Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia from 1996 through 1997. I myself reported to the CJICTF in June 1997, where I worked for the Product Development Chief, Major Roger Smith, as the Officer in Charge for all print product development, which included being Chief Editor of the HoP, as well as the Budget/Finance officer for our overall PSYOP campaign efforts. The officer I was replacing in both those functions was Captain Roger Lintz. Rogers drive and initiative had raised the bar from the HoPs initial format to that of a glossy, four-color, 36-page, TIME-quality magazine. Hed also negotiated a robust print contract with a Zagreb-based company that made this quality leap possible. Our transition from his team to mine was seamless and we eagerly accepted this challenging job.
Distributing copies of the Herald of Peace newspaper
The operational direction of the HoP came from our boss Roger Smith. Roger insisted the magazine hold true to stories that supported the Stabilization Forces country-wide objectives, and we focused on themes like freedom of movement, election participation, and other peace initiatives. The major stories covered subjects like the recently restored Sarajevo ambulance service or the purchase of new firefighting equipment. We deliberately steered clear of collage photos of US or other nations military forces conducting peacekeeping operations, unit rotations, changes of command, etc. One Stabilization Force logo was found on the inside cover, along with letters from the chief editor (Roger Lintz, followed by myself) and our Noncommissioned Officer editor (Bob Kellogg followed by Hans-Marc Hurd) in each issue. In retrospect, we were going for the same appeal as that of a Readers Digest, that even older copies would be interesting and fresh to a war-devastated target audience, particularly in the hinterlands, that rarely saw any printed media at all.
Sergeant Mark Jenkins of the 6th PSYOP Battalion tells us more about the Herald of Peace, some of these facts from his After Action Report prepared 11 June 1996.
Production work for the Herald of Peace in Zagreb began the week of 25 December 1995.The first Zagreb issue was laid out on 28 December 1995 and printed at Radin Press over the weekend. Dissemination began in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 4 January 1996. Approved articles were received early in the week (usually Tuesday), translations were completed by Wednesday evening, Disk files were prepared and forwarded to EuropaPress on Thursday, printing over the weekend, quality control check on Monday, delivered and placed on pallets on Tuesday, shipped to Bosnia on Wednesday.
Sergeant Jenkins told me some of the problems that he encountered:
Many of my memories are of frustration. We in the 6th PSYOP Battalion had been alerted and then stood down so many times about Bosnia that I think some people had decided we were never really going to go. I was apparently one of the few Serbo-Croat linguists that had kept up language skills (and there were only three in the Battalion and one did not deploy), something that I found difficult to comprehend, (and I was only all too aware of my shortcomings as a translator). The potential for deployment to the former Yugoslavia had been apparent for several years. We went in with so many good ideas and were consistently defeated and ground down by bureaucracy and worse, such as the ridiculously long time it took for news items to get approval for publication. At one time, we had to submit everything back to Naples, and they tended to sit on it, no matter our deadlines.
I took pains whenever I was briefing any officers to stress that this was a European country we were dealing with, one with modern media, and if we weren't speedy, we had to at least be credible, or we could kiss our influence goodbye. I'd watched some of Milosevic's speeches on Serbian TV during my stint at the US embassy in Belgrade a year or two earlier, and I was struck by how media-savvy he was (so unlike his portrayal in many Western sources).
Attention Serbian Forces. You are a NATO target
This Allied leaflet depicts target crosshairs on a Serb tank. Text on the back reads:
Attention Serbian Armed Forces. You are a NATO target. Halt your current operations and return to your garrisons immediately. If you fail to follow these instructions, NATO will continue to attack your unit. Save your lives. Flee while you can.
This leaflet is coded 03-Q-02-L003. NATO aircraft dropped 800,000 copies of this leaflet.
Master Sergeant (retired) Rod Schmidt of B Company of the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion told me:
The sniper-scope green target leaflet dropped on Yugoslavia was based on a design I provided to 6th POB, although they modified it. Originally, I had designed it to resemble the light green, grainy tinge of low-light scopes without the NATO symbol. They were forced to darken the green color because the presses they had at that time just couldn't print the light green design at a high enough resolution to render the image clearly.
More than 3 million posters and handbills were disseminated throughout theater between December 1995 and November 1997.
I will end this section with one of my favorite leaflets, a U.S. B-52 bomber in action.
Attention VJ Forces, Leave Kosovo
This leaflet depicts a B-52 dropping bombs. The code number of this leaflet is 03-NN-17-L002. NATO aircraft dropped 1.6 million copies of this leaflet. The text on the back is:
Attention VJ Forces, Leave Kosovo, NATO is now using B-52 bombers to drop MK-82 225-kilogram heavy bombs on the Yugoslav Army units in Kosovo. Every B-52 bomber can carry more than 50 of these bombs. These planes will keep coming back for you until they expel your unit from Kosovo and prevent you from committing atrocities. If you want to survive and see your family again, abandon your unit and weapon and leave Kosovo immediately! Thousands of bombs and the will, and the power, and the support of the entire world to relentlessly drop them on your unit.
The Virgin Islands
Hurricane Hugo caused widespread damage
Hurricane Hugo was a powerful hurricane that caused widespread damage and loss of life in Guadeloupe, Saint Croix, Puerto Rico, and the Southeast United States. It formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on 9 September 1989. Hurricane Hugo caused 34 fatalities (most by electrocution or drowning) in the Caribbean and 27 in South Carolina, left nearly 100,000 homeless, and resulted in $10 billion (1989 US Dollars) in damage overall, making it the most damaging hurricane ever recorded at the time. On 17 September 1989, Hurricane Hugo struck the island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. Wind-speeds were maintained at approximately 140 mph as it crossed the islands. The hurricane destroyed nearly all of the life support systems for a population of over 50,000; including the fresh water supply, the island's electrical generation capability, and the fuel supply.
Hurricane Hugo's devastation led to a President Bush sending in the troops
The ensuing chaos and total breakdown of law and order resulted in widespread looting and general lawlessness throughout the island. From 200 to 600 prisoners escaped from the island's only territorial prison. On 20 September 1989, President Bush invoked the Insurrection Act to federalize the National Guard to impose order following violence and looting in the wake of Hurricane Hugo. Elements of the Army, Navy and the Coast Guard, along with a contingent from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation formed Joint Task Force (JTF) 40 for Operation Hawkeye.
Broadcasting news and instructions
The 6th Psychological Operations Battalion deployed to Saint Croix and the U. S. Virgin Islands as part of JTF-140 to provide Humanitarian Relief after Hurricane Hugo in support of Operation Hawkeye. In general, when natural disasters occur the PSYOP troops tell the people where to find food and water, where the medical tents are located and generally inform the people and try to keep them calm. To see hurricane relief in greater detail click here to see my article on PSYOP during Hurricane Andrew.
Clinton R. Van Zandt mentioned the hurricane in an article entitled When Forces Work Together: Army PSYOP & the FBI in St. Croix in Special Warfare, May, 1993:
With the approval of both the FBI special-agent-in-charge and the commander of U.S. Army personnel in St. Croix, the FBI negotiators and PSYOP soldiers developed an assessment of the psychological mood of the local residents. They provided their respective commanders with proactive ways to stop the looting of local businesses. The looting had to be halted to prevent the situation from escalating into a full-scale riot. The FBI advisers and their PSYOP counterparts made the following recommendations to the FBI and the U.S. Army on-scene commanders:
The PSYOP detachment should obtain current information on distribution sites for food, water and medical aid from the local office of the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency.
The PSYOP detachment should be authorized to disseminate that information via mobile broadcast units and leaflets and to provide taped messages for broadcast by local radio stations when they became operational.
To ensure that the image of U.S. forces was one of providing assistance, public-service leaflets should be distributed by FBI and military personnel while on patrol throughout St. Croix.
Once the local citizens saw the FBI and the U.S. military forces providing information, aid and assistance, they began to view the joint operation as one of assistance, not occupation. Local residents began to provide FBI and military personnel with information concerning the location of escaped prisoners and the identity of looters, and order soon returned to paradise This blending of psychological thought and direct application supported the mission of U.S. government forces deployed there, and broke new ground in joint civilian law-enforcement and military operations.
The African nation of Liberia has always held a special place in the hearts of Americans. Founded by Americans of African descent in 1848, the capitol city Monrovia was named after James Monroe, the 5th President of the United States. For many years, Americans saw the oldest black African republic as a bastion of democracy on the African continent.
President Charles Taylor
Civil war came to Nigeria in the late 1990s and the fighting left the country dependent on other nations for food, fuel, and supplies. Rebel advances in 2003 culminating with attacks on Monrovia, coupled with two years of UN-imposed sanctions for President Charles Taylors meddling in Sierra Leone's civil war, finally prompted Taylors abdication from power in August 2003. One-half of Liberia's three million people were displaced. Taylor became the only person in history (besides Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia) to be charged with war crimes while in office as the leader of a nation. He flew to exile in Nigeria. In July 2003, following a cease-fire, the U. S. Army Southern European Task Force was directed to establish a joint task force and provide support to military forces of the Economic Community of West African States as it led peace support operations in Monrovia, Liberia.
Leaflet LBM3aD02 U. S. Forces are near
The 6th PSYOP Battalion deployed a five-man PSYOP Support Element to Vicenza, Italy. These elements enable tactical commanders to communicate directly with the enemy and foreign civilians. At the same time, the Product Development Center was making and sending PSYOP products via "Reachback." Reachback is a term used for the ability to exploit resources, capabilities, and expertise not physically located in the theater or joint operations area. In the case of Liberia, the leaflets were prepared at Ft. Bragg, and then forwarded to Vicenza. The leaflets were reviewed in Vicenza and then sent to the U. S. Embassy for approval and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group at sea for printing by the Navy. The 6th PSYOP Battalion was assigned two loudspeaker team attachments, which were deployed to the Iwo Jima. They performed some missions on the ground in Liberia, and were critical in helping the U. S. Navy print the PSYOP products aboard ship.
LBM5aD01 U. S. Forces continue to monitor prolong your suffering
Specialist Heidi Cardona of the 6th PSYOP Battalion was a MOS 25M multimedia illustrator member of the 5-person PSYOP team that prepared and printed the Liberia leaflets and posters. Once the project was well underway she went forward with the team to Monrovia, Liberia where they worked hand in hand with both the Marines and the U.S. Embassy. She says in regard to the operation:
In doing the products, I based my designs on what the PSYOP troops envisioned. They told me the kind of images they wanted and I put their basic concepts on paper. It was a team effort. We put the products together with their concepts and my design skills. We were there as peacekeepers. We were there to tell them to play nice and to get along. It was proven by the end of the war that the messages we gave them helped. We gave them good visual images and basic, simple words for them to understand their situation and the consequences of their actions.
The most difficult aspect of the operation for us was that when we started out we weren't on location. We were in a different time zone so it was difficult to get an immediate response from the U.S. Embassy and to learn the reactions of the local people. Towards the end of our mission we ended up erecting billboards so that everyone could see how the U.S. and the U.N. were just in Liberia to help. I think it was a successful mission. They now have a new president and things seem to be getting better.
The Army Illustrators
George Banagis artwork from the 1980s
Some members made T-shirts using this design and text such as HB Team 1975-1978
HB indicates Loudspeaker
Retired Sergeant First Class George E. Banagis served as team leader for the 6th PSYOP Battalion's Graphic section from 1996 to 1998. There were from nine to eleven Illustrators in his section at different times and he was surprised to discover that over half of the illustrators had no drawing skills because the Department of the Army never checked their bona fides at the time they enlisted. That made his job really difficult because he soon learned that those without any natural drawing talent cannot be taught how to draw.
A Stock Drawing to be stored for use by PSYOP Troops in a Military Action
George says about the picture above:
The picture was an idea I had for 4th PSYOP Group to use stock photos done by our illustrator staff to complete artwork for a mission ahead of time in their home base. The analysts would have a stockpile of hundreds of images ready to use and a great saving of time in the war zone. The artwork depicts the child of one of my soldiers and another one of my soldiers is posing as a combat medic. I photographed the scene and then drew it by hand. I presented this idea to the 4th PSYOP Group commander a few days before I was transferred to a new assignment in Washington DC. I moved on to my new assignment and that is the last I heard of the plan.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion graphic section was located in the old wooden barracks in Ft. Bragg and they were in such bad shape that the members were required to do a lot of construction work to improve the buildings. There was also a print van the section worked in that was one of the five tractor trailers belonging to the print platoon.
Army Illustrator George Banagis
Banagis arrived at Ft. Bragg in March 1986 and was deployed within a week to Hohenfels, one of the main bases in Germany, called at that time the Combat Maneuver Training Command. The name was changed later to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. George was a platoon sergeant in charge of the Mobil Video Platoon and his platoon was in the VIPERs or Visual Information Personal and was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Hohenfels.
While stationed with the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Germany about 1987 George and his fellow PSYOP specialists did some day trips into East Berlin. George told me:
We took the duty train at night to Berlin with the curtains drawn until we got to the city of Berlin. I still remember the overly tall East German Soldier on the train as we went through customs with his AK-47. It was an amazing city the moment we had stepped off the train and one of my favorites. We walked around the area of the train station until the van arrived that took us to Checkpoint Charlie museum which we toured. We had exchanged East German marks in West Germany to get a better rate. The East Germans would give you a one DDR mark for one West German mark, while in West Germany you got TEN DDR marks for one West German mark. It made the drip to East Germany a lot more affordable. The East Germans did not know what to think about our red berets and bloused greens.
Part of the 6th PSYOP Battalion Graphics Team in East Berlin
From left to right: SGT Banagis; SPC French; SPC Sims; SPC Semanski; and SPC Burdock
We first drove around the city and you could see bullets holes left over from WWII and the city seemed like a slum compared to the rest of Germany I had seen. We drove past the Brandenburg gate and Hitlers Bunker as well as the KGB Headquarters with its mirrored windows so you could not see what was going on inside. We stopped at a shopping area and had a beer and some food and were able to walk around the city but were not allowed to speak to the East German people. We wore our class B uniforms with our red berets and jump boots. We stood out like an elite unit.
Banagis made Staff Sergeant on his return trip from the temporary duty assignment after completing Airborne School. He was later assigned to the Department of Army Personnel Command out of Fort Myers, Virginia, and his last assignment was Platoon Sergeant for Combat Camera in Hohenfels, Germany. About 1992 he was temporarily assigned to the US Army Center of Military History Army Artist program and his art work was used in documenting the US Army in Honduras and Panama. It is now part of the permanent collection at the US Army Center of military history. He made honor graduate at the US Army Advanced course for visual Information at Lowery AFB. He retired in May 1995 from Hohenfels, Germany, and now appears at Art Festivals in New York State.
Martin J. Cervantez
Retired Master Sergeant Martin J. Cervantez enlisted in the Army Signal Corps in July 1986 as an 81E, Illustrator. During his first enlistment he was assigned to A Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion. He was later detailed to the 9th PSYOP Battalion, which deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm while attached to the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Regiment. Martin told me:
I was assigned to A Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion, as an 81E, Illustrator. We did Cold War programs, and a lot of field training exercises, and Army training and evaluation programs. I made leaflets, did print ready artwork, and color separations by hand, and worked closely with out then company organic light print platoon.I was then moved to C Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion, which was the startup for Africa Company.We were given the last of 6 operational Jeeps to start our motor pool.They each had a trailer.I helped paint all of them tan, and then a darker tan for camouflage.
I Got your Six
Members of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1/26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, perform a security halt during a mounted patrol on 9 November, 2008.
His assignments included Graphics Non-commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) for the, Operations Section, 509th Signal Battalion at Camp Darby, Italy from 1991 to 1992 and later with the 7th Signal Brigade in Karlsruhe, Germany from 1992 to 1994.
In June 2000, while serving as platoon sergeant for 2d Platoon, 55th Signal Company, he led Combat Camera teams during a deployment to Kosovo and again as the Joint Combat Camera Team NCOIC for Foal Eagle 2002. He later served as First Sergeant for B Company, 3rd PSYOP Battalion from September 2002 until March 2005. While serving in this position, he deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism to Iraq and Afghanistan.
A Huge Responsibility
Second Lieutenant Patrick Farrell of The American Provincial Police Mentor Team and his interpreter are meeting with the Afghan National Police Chief in the town of Khost in November, 2008, to review local situations and provide mentorship on several issues. The interpreter is covering his face so that he cant be identified by anyone that may have ties with the Taliban or Al-Qaida.
He is a former Artist in Residence at the U.S. Army Center of Military History where he was responsible for capturing the Army's history on paper and canvas. He deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from February to April 2011 and from September to December 2008. He was also deployed in support of Operation Unified Response in Haiti from January-February 2010. During these deployments he produced artwork that visually recorded Soldiers experiences the Armys achievements.
Mural Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift
Now retired, he took part in the creation of a mural commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin airlift along with Fabian Stenzel, a German graffiti artist, unveiled at Clay Kaserne, 22 June 2018.
Randall (Randy) Llewellyn onboard a U.S. Air Force C-141 returning to Ft Bragg from a NATO Exercise at RAF West Raynham May, 1981. The aircraft is on the tarmac at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville NC. They were unloading the plane and then the men would be off to their barracks on Smoke Bomb Hill.
Randy Llewellyn at 3rd Support Command in Frankfurt on the Main, Germany where he was the Non-commissioned Officer in charge of the Operations (G3) Graphics Department.
Randy Llewellyn served in the 6th PSYOP Battalion from 1980 to 1982. He told me:
I started drawing at a very early age, one of my earliest memories was at my grandparents farm stressing over making the wheels look right on car sketches. I enlisted on the Stripes for Skills program as an Army Illustrator (81E) at the rank of PFC. Right after basic training; I skipped Advanced Individual Training and reported directly to the 6th PSYOP Battalion at Ft. Bragg, NC in June 1980 and was assigned to the Battalion S-3 (Operations). The first months of my enlistment were the adventure of my lifetime. I went from basic training to Ft Bragg, was promoted to Specialist 4, graduated the Primary Leadership Development Course and earned my jump wings in less than a year. My confidence was higher than any other time in my life, and I was pumped and eager for more, but best of all, I met people and made friends that changed my life forever.
Many of the propaganda campaigns I worked on were classified real world North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) packs. Some of my best work at the 6th PSYOP Battalion was for NATO. Here is some of the work I did during my tour with 6th PSYOP. Unfortunately, much of what I prepared was classified at the time and I was not allowed to keep samples of the products.
This leaflet was used during an Army Training and Evaluation Program (ARTEP). It was dropped on a division of airborne infantry in the field and supported with loudspeaker broadcasts of snarling barking dogs throughout the nights of the exercise to cause worry and sleep deprivation among the division. Notice the official looking U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) signature at the bottom designed to create authenticity. The reverse side of the Rabies Epidemic Leaflet played off of the sleep deprivation caused by the loudspeaker broadcasts creating disorientation, and paranoia with the troops. Sick call was swamped with patients throughout the ARTEP and the unit strength suffered greatly.
I remember a campaign that actually caused one division to fail their ARTEP. Unfortunately I didnt actually work on it, but Ill tell you about it anyway. The 6th PSYOP Battalion was doing their Opposing Force (OPFOR) thing with leaflets and loudspeakers and they managed to capture several of the divisions troops. (I seem to remember they were trying to take out loudspeaker team, but I could be wrong) During their interrogation they let slip the name of the most respected NCO in the unit. Im not sure if it was luck or skill but that NCO was also captured. He was reunited with the other captives in the day room at the 6th barracks with women, beer and a few games of pocket billiards and the photographs were made into leaflets. Combined with the other campaigns the 6th PSYOP was running, the results were devastating to the division.
After the division failed the ARTEP above, it was realized that most units were under-trained on fighting propaganda and as a result the Operation Security (OPSEC) 11 x 17-inch poster above along with a Soviet PSYOP Threat booklet and a pocket card with OPSEC guidelines as well as other information was written and distributed in the effort to educate our troops.
The Graffiti Pig
This graffiti pig was part of an effort to convince the Opposing Force soldiers to believe they would be given pigs blood transfusions if they were ever injured in combat. I designed it so it could be spray painted easily by anybody in a matter of seconds to avoid capture or worse. It took me a long time to come up with the pig. Sometimes it very hard to keep things simple. The campaign was supported with the typical propaganda methods and at one point we experimented with printing on kites.
[Author's Note]: I was rather interested in the kite propaganda because The Chinese used leaflet kites as early as 549 A.D. The British used propaganda kites against Napoleon and again against the Central Powers in WWI. During the Cold War the Chinese used kites to move propaganda between the mainland and Quemoy. Most recently, in 2018 the residents of Gaza used kites to carry burning rags and gasoline into Israel. I asked Randy to tell me more about the kites:
One of our Specialist 4 intelligence analysts came up with the kite idea and our leaders let him run with it. We were on a NATO exercise at RAF West Raynham, His first task was to build a kite which may not seem to be difficult, but we didnt have any of the materials needed to actually build one. No string, no paper or kite sticks. The whole project turned into a scavenger hunt. He cut sticks from trees outside of the air base and used tabloid newspaper to cover it. I dont recall where he got the string but in the end, he found everything he needed. The final kite as I recall was not pretty and I dont remember if it flew, but I give him an A for effort. Beyond that, the rest of the kite project was all in reports and no art work was ever created for it. I do know the idea was to get the kite flying where Opposing Force were likely to see it or tie it off so it could fly on its own.
After my tour at the 6th PSYOP Battalion, I got Permanent Change of Station orders to Germany. I got out of the regular army did a tour in the Army Reserves. (The 365th Engineers of the 79th Army Reserve Command) and was activated for Desert Storm. However, I was then training to be a carpenter masonry specialist but since my military occupational specialty was still 81E I was sent home. Later they called me to come back to continue my training in the hope that they could get me ready in time for deployment. My Commander was determined to get all of his troops to deploy with the 365th and I was called back again but in the end a group of us who were as yet unqualified were reassigned to a Bailey bridge company for training so I never deployed. Neither did the 365th. They got as far as Ft. Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, and spent the remainder of Desert Storm there.
Operational Detachment One, 6th PSYOP Battalion, late 1981
SP5 Williams, SSG McCreedy, CPT Rieger, CPT Jones.
SP4 Dorfer, SP4 Jennifer Stengel, PFC Robinson SSG Linthicum.
MAJ Van Nest, SP4 Moses, SP4 Hecht, SP4 Marek, SP6 Chunn, SFC Jones.
I note that Specialist Stengel would later marry Illustrator Randy Llewellyn (above) and change her name. I also note Illustrator Ed Marek (who we also mention below) in the front row.
During his time in the 6th PSYOP Battalion Randy worked on numerous training-related Cold War PSYOP campaigns: North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercises and war games such as Reforger with the British Royal Air Force at West Raynham, a former RAF base built in 1939 during WWII.
The Reforger (Return of Forces to Germany) exercise itself was first conceived in 1967 during the Vietnam War. The Johnson administration announced plans to withdraw approximately two divisions from Europe in 1968. As a demonstration of its continuing commitment to the defense of NATO, a large scale force deployment was planned that would deploy a division or more to West Germany in a regular annual exercise. The first such exercise was conducted beginning on 6 January 1969. Reforger became an annual exercise conducted during the Cold War by NATO. The exercise was intended to ensure that NATO had the ability to quickly deploy forces to West Germany in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact.
Ed Marek Self Portrait
Ed Marek originally entered the Army as an 11B (Infantryman) in 1977 and was first stationed at the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. As a Specialist 4th Class member of the 25th Infantry Division in 1979 he was already showing artistic skills and received a letter of commendation for making display cards for the division reunion. In 1980 he reenlisted for Graphics Apprentice School. He was interested in art and drawing since childhood. His father was an artist so it came naturally. After the course at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, he was assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion as an 81E (Illustrator) in the Propaganda Development section. He arrived at a time of relative peace while his Battalion was deployed on the Cuban Mariel boat people operation. Ed told me:
It was a great experience working with the different people and specialties from military intelligence analysts, photographers, artists to broadcasters. Field duty was interesting as far as creating artwork on the fly out in the woods, midnight loudspeaker missions and leaflet drops. Great people and had a lot of fun as a PSYOP specialist in the 3 years I spent with the 6th Battalion from 1980 to 1983. I did one more tour in Darmstadt, Germany then left the Army in 1986 to attend the Academy of Art. I served in the Army a total of 10 years.
After a couple of freelance positions I landed a spot as a Graphics Specialist at a major Chicago publishing company, creating ads as well as laying out and producing magazines and newspapers, where I worked for 25 years until leaving the business to spend more time on other endeavors.
Ed Marek Assigned to the 11th Signal Brigade in 1984,
32nd Army Air Defense Command (AADCOM).
He told me about taking the PSYOP course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School where he had Madison Avenue advertising executives teaching classes and techniques that were very helpful and that he used later as an illustrator. Most of his work involved training exercises, war games, and even some work for the Ft. Bragg Newspaper Paraglide. In 1982, he received a letter of appreciation for the artwork he contributed voluntarily for the Paraglide.
Ed talks below about leaflets for the Warsaw Pact.
Here is a typical example from my own collection
The PSYOP units in Germany also practiced making mock leaflets against the Communist German and Soviet troops. This 6th PSYOP Battalion Russian-language Cold War training leaflet was made in conjunction with the German 800th PSV (Psychological Defense) Battalion. The front depicts two Russian soldiers with the girlfriends and the text:
On the back of the leaflet the two Russian soldiers have disappeared and only the girls remain. The text is:
Today, tomorrow, and then how long?
He did a lot of work on classified stock leaflets to be packaged and used in time of war, but those leaflets were all taken to storage depots and saved. In the 80s the 6th PSYOP Battalion was supporting the watching of the Warsaw Pact and Eastern Europe so he could not keep even the drafts, drawings, and illustrations and paintings he did. One of his favorites was a red watercolor of a Russian soldier and tanks designed for use on Czechoslovakia and Poland as a leaflet or poster. Since he only did the artwork, he had no idea what the text might be on the product, but it surely would have been divisive propaganda meant to split the Communist-bloc armies.
The Thousand Yard Stare
There is a very famous image of a soldier in Combat with his eyes hollow and unseeing in what has been called the thousand yard stare. Here, Ed Marek does his own version of that picture for a stock, pre-packaged morgue file. Ed was told to create a war weary soldier. Should war come, the next artist would be able to use the image, change the uniform into that of the enemy and make whatever changes were necessary.
Citizens of Pahran!
I liked this leaflet because of the text on one side:
Citizens of Pahran!
The American paid killers have arrived
The other side show two American soldiers and an enormous pile of cash, obviously paid to them to kill the local guerrillas.
Safe Conduct Pass
This is a standard safe conduct pass with an insignia at the center that is the same as worn by the enemy artillery forces. Ed told me that the defecting soldier on the other side of the leaflet is wearing that patch. The leaflet offers hot meals and claims to be from a POW who has defected to the other side and has been treated well. The back depicts the defector with a woman and talks about all the food he has eaten and implies there might be some sex in his future. The woman, Khatahbah Katie, is 6th PSYOP Battalion Intelligence Analyst Specialist Sergeant. Laura Williams. Ed told me that she retired as a First Sergeant.
Ed showed me several images he drew for the Ft. Bragg newspaper Paraglide. I liked this one, a scene of a soldier about to face a board and in shock when hearing himself called.
Training and Wargame Leaflets
This poster was printed very quickly on the spot, in the field, to commemorate the visit of Major General George E. Marine, Deputy Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps. The exercise was called Dragonfire and featured the 1st of the 73rd Field Artillery. It was an ARTEP (Army Training and Evaluation Program). The entire poster project took 2 hours and it was 42 minutes from Mareks drawing board to print. The poster explains:
This was printed during Major General Marines visit to OP 15, 26 May 1982. Demonstrating the swift and professional capabilities of the 6TH PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS BATTALION.
Many leaflets try to frighten the enemy with tales of the dangers to be found in the field. I have leaflets that show poisonous snakes, spiders and even ticks. Marek was particularly fond of this leaflet. He called it the 1/73 ARTEP "Award Winner". He told me that the officers and analysts hated the tick leaflet but as a former 11B infantryman, he knew that the ticks were a discomfort and a worry to the foot soldier. He thought it would be effective and found that it was. If I can add a personal note, Rocky Mountain Spotted disease is very dangerous. At one time in my career I was involved in projects of this sort and one of my comrades broke a Petri dish containing that disease and cut his hand. He died soon afterwards. It was a reminder to be very careful when working with little bugs that can kill you.
The Third Terd
I do not know how to describe this leaflet. In general, at war games everyone is very gentlemanly. In fact, in WWII, Sefton Delmer the head of the British black propaganda unit caught a lot of flak from politicians because of his leaflet profanity and pornography. He basically replied, All things are fair in love and war; it is what the Germans like to read.
Apparently, some PSYOP agents infiltrated the Military Police Companys field mess and gained some inside information on the unit's members. Ed told me:
Two of our analysts infiltrated their basecamp at chow time and as I remember were able to hang around there for a briefing or two and gossip with some of their soldiers. They were both good looking, and Sergeant Laura Williams found that being an attractive female had its advantages. They heard stories about all the enemy soldiers and learned their nicknames. Nothing about that leaflet was politically correct. Messing with their heads was the deal.
Tony Sims deployed for Training at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia in 1987
Tony M. Sims started drawing when he was about 7 years old. He took every art class in middle and high school. He knew he wanted to be an artist, but was not sure on how to go about it. The military seemed to be the answer. Tony served in the U.S. Army from February 1986 to November 1998. He started his military life with basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1986. He took his advanced training at Lowry Air Force Base. He was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the Military Occupational Specialty of 81E, with the duties of illustrating drafts and laying out illustrations for posters, graphs, charts, tests, and training aids. He served as an illustrator and propaganda specialist from 1986 to 1990 in the 6th PSYOP Battalion; Company A. He did many things in his years as an artist, such as designing the logo for the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC. He worked on and supervised over a dozen leaflet missions. From 1991 to 1995 he was assigned to the Print Dissemination Battalion which later became the 3rd PSYOP Battalion. He now lives a quiet life working for the Union Pacific Railroad out of South Morrill, Nebraska. He has lived in Torrington, Wyoming, for the past 20 years, with his wife Carla.
A Tony Sims drawing of a radioman with a PRC-77
Tony told me in 2018 that he had been part of the team that printed the 4th PSYOP Group booklet on Operation Desert Storm depicted above. He also helped to print a folded cardboard piece that honored the 4th PSYOP Group and featured photographs and histories of the various units that took part in the Persian Gulf War.
Folded card front
Folded card back
Note the comment at the left:
During operation Provide Comfort the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) aided millions of Kurdish refugees near the Turkish-Iraq border. Soldiers were deployed from Ft. Bragg and Saudi Arabia, where during the war they lent loudspeaker support to units of the Coalition Force. Near the border they assisted the refugees with loudspeaker announcements and leaflet drops encouraging the Kurds to seek refuge in established camps.
The Special Operations Booklet for Congress
Tony also was part of the team that printed a booklet for Congress that told the story of Special Operations and Psychological Operations. The booklet is 38-pages long and mentions all the units of Special Forces, the equipment they use, the organizations and a number of the operations they took part in. Since we write about PSYOP I have included the two pages that mention psychological operations.
The Airborne and Special Forces Museum Logo
In 1992, Tony Sims designed the logo for the Airborne and Special Forces Museum in Fayetteville N.C. The design shows several important historical symbols, the old patch worn by the first Special Service Force in WWII, a Special Forces dagger Which was apparently modeled after the Fairbairn-Sykes British Commando knife, and a master parachutist badge. Tony was recognized with a certificate in 2018 for his achievement which said:
Certificate of Appreciation
For his artistic and creative efforts in the development of the Museums logo.
The logo you created embellishes the spirit of the Airborne and Special Operations Soldiers the museum strives to honor.
U.S. Officer mentors Ethiopian military officers
In June 2009, Michelle Butzgy wrote an article in Paraglide entitled Fort Bragg Soldiers work at winning hearts and minds around the world. She said about the 6th Battalion:
Specialist Esther Cutler, 6th PSYOP Battalion worked in Ethiopia, part of African Command. She said:
There's tension in those tribes. The battalion designed a tri-arm logo for unity and promoted a basketball team to spread the word. During their games, they stop and talk to the audience about unity. They (travel) around the regions of Ethiopia so they're going to take that message with them. The battalion is also sponsoring a soccer league with the same unity message. They also put together a unity concert with world musicians Pras Michael, Aster Awoke and Gosaye. It was huge.
Libya Independence Protests in Benghazi
A civil war erupted in Libya on 15 February 2011. The situation began as a series of peaceful protests. On the evening of 15 February, between 500 and 600 demonstrators protested in front of the police headquarters in Benghazi after the arrest of human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil. The protest was broken up violently by police, resulting in 38 injured, among them ten security personnel. Protest rallies were held in Al Bayda, Az Zintan, Benghazi, and Darnah. Libyan security responded with lethal force. A Day of Rage was planned for 17 February inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Within a week, this uprising had spread across the country and Gaddafi was struggling to retain control. Gaddafi responded with military force and other such measures as censorship and blocking of communications.
The rebels established a coalition named the Transitional National Council based in Benghazi. The International Criminal Court warned Gaddafi that he and members of his government may have committed crimes against humanity and the United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle, and restricting their travel. The United Nations intervened, the initial coalition expanded to 17 states. The effort was initially largely led by France and the United Kingdom, with command shared with the United States. NATO took control of the arms embargo on 23 March, named Operation Unified Protector. On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone, while command of targeting ground units remains with coalition forces.
Captain Geoffrey Childs wrote an article entitled Military Information Support to Contingency Operations in Libya for Special Warfare, January-March 2013. He summed up the PSYOP well and I thought we would use his numbers as a guide in this article. Some of his comments are:
More than 50 messages were disseminated throughout the first 12 days of Operation Odyssey Dawn and an additional 200 were disseminated during the seven months of the Operation Unified Protector Commando Solo flew its first sortie, broadcasting 11 MISO messages in three languages, the same day the JTF dropped its first bomb. These messages were developed, approved, translated, recorded, uploaded and disseminated within a 17-hour time period Of the more than 9 million leaflets disseminated, only a few achieved their desired effect, but most were credited to have bolstered the spirit of the TNC forces and civilians in fear of the regime alike.
Childs mentions the activities of the 6th PSYOP Battalion and says in part:
PSYOP approval authority was limited in scope to support exclusively the non-combatant evacuation mission, which therefore remained the singular focus of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. When UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing the use of force to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under the threat of attack was ratified on
March 17, 2011, the company, at Fort Bragg, began developing a PSYOP series based on the secretary of defenses preapproved psychological operations programs in anticipation of coalition lethal actions against the Gadhafi regime.
It is impossible to empirically prove that the PSYOP campaign directly caused the eventual collapse of the Gadhafi regime. While NATOs approach to PSYOP was, at times, at odds with the American process, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest 6th PSYOP Battalion-enabled NATO messages contributed to the overall success of contingency operations in Libya.
Leaflet Operations in Libya
I am going to show three Leaflets Captain Childs used to illustrate his article although I have all the leaflets used in the campaign. Readers who want to learn more about the PSYOP of the Libyan campaign will find my article here.
This leaflet depicted Gaddafi at the right and Libyan citizens near a bomb blast at the left. The text is:
Colonel Gaddafis orders to attack civilians are illegal and as a result he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
One of the more interesting leaflets depicts a Libyan banknote on fire. It was believed that Gaddafi was paying foreign mercenaries to fight for his regime. Text on the front of the note is:
Non-Libyan fighters, this is the only money you will receive for continuing to endanger Libyan citizens.
Stop Tearing Libya Apart
This leaflet depicts a Libyan soldier on the front, split down the middle to show a government soldier on one side and a rebel on the other. Behind the soldier is a tank, behind the rebel an armed truck (sometimes called a technical) and armed fighters. NATO symbols appear at the lower left and right. The text on the front is:
Stop Tearing Libya Apart
One Libya, one people
The 6th Battalion in Europe Today
The military magazine Special Warfare mentioned the 6th Battalion in its January-June 2016 issue. It said in part:
The 6th PSYOP Battalion, part of 4th Military PSYOP Group, is the primary force provider of PSYOP Soldiers to support special operations, conventional, and partner forces throughout the European Command Area of Responsibility. 6th PSYOP Battalion Soldiers serve as influence advisors to supported commanders by assessing, shaping, disrupting, and ultimately influencing behaviors of foreign related to situations and issues through precision messaging. PSYOP Soldiers are also working on planning, coordinating, and executing training engagements with partner and allied nations focused on improving the existing capabilities of these countries and their emerging information operations programs.
The 6th PSYOP Battalion is composed of a diverse group of regionally aligned Non-commissioned officers and officers who have a career focus on the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, information, physical environment, history, and current events of a specific region of Europe. Many 6th PSYOP Battalion soldiers are native speakers and possess fluency one or more European languages, which makes them critical assets in the countries they are assigned to serve.
In regard to Special Forces the Magazine adds:
Acting in support of Special Operations Command Forward-Eastern Europe, Special Operations Command Europe, and a host of inter-agency and military formations, the U.S. Army Psychological Operations Regiment, specifically the 6th PSYOP Battalion, form the main effort in influence and information activities designed to prevent or end conflict and to counteract threats facing the U.S. and our allies in the European Command area of operations. PSYOP Soldiers are involved in every aspect of regional Special Operations Forces initiatives.
Training and Public Relations
On 31 July 2014, Psychological Operations held an Open House at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, to show what they do and exhibit some of their products. Sergeant Matt Conley, a PSYOP Specialist assigned to A Company of the 6st PSYOP Battalion explains his job to an interested soldier. Conley said:
I just want other soldiers to know what we do, and how many benefits you can gain from joining this career field. From extraordinary experiences to amazing education benefits, the PSYOP career has a lot to offer.
A 6th PSYOP Battalion Soldier works with his team to make his way across a wire obstacle and complete a leader reaction course at Camp Dawson, West Virginia. During the units mission readiness exercise, the 6th PSYOP Battalion validated their skills to join teams that will augment Special Operations Command Europe in the coming months. Among their skills tested are language proficiency and cultural understanding. (Photo by Captain Stephen Von Jett)
Specialist 4 Darel L. Sills, of Salem, Oregon, assigned to the 246th PSYOP Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) was killed on 13 October, 1966 from fragmentation wounds from a grenade in Vietnam
Staff Sergeant Rodger E. Terwilliger, of Littleton, Colorado, assigned to the 246th PSYOP Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) was killed on 15 October 1966 when the vehicle he was riding in struck a mine in Vietnam.
First Lieutenant John S. Martin, of Oklawaha, Florida, assigned to the 244th PSYOP Company, 6th PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) was killed on 10 August 1967 when the C-130B Hercules aircraft he was flying in crashed into Dong Nhut Mountain, Vietnam
Specialist 4 Arnold D. Syrovatka, of Ethan, South Dakota, assigned to the 244th PSYOP Company, 6th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne), died on October 15, 1967 from injuries from a gunshot wound in Vietnam.
First Lieutenant John Edward Miller, of Arlington, Virginia, assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) died of wounds following an attack on Forward Operating Base Four on 24 August 1968 in Quang Ngai province, Vietnam.
Specialist 5 John E. Lynch, Forty Fort, Pennsylvania, assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) was killed on 15 June 1969 in a helicopter crash during a leaflet drop mission in Long Khanh, Vietnam.
Specialist 4 Marc P. Decoteau, of Waterville Valley, New Hamshire, assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion (Airborne) died at Forward Operating Base Nunez, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained while supporting combat operations on 29 January 2010 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
6th PSYOP Battalion Awards and Decorations
The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for VIETNAM 1966-1967 and again for VIETNAM 1967-1968
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for SOUTHWEST ASIA 1990-1991
The Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1967-1970
The 6th PSYOP Bn received campaign participation credit for:
Vietnam: 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.
Southwest Asia: Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation and Defense of Kuwait.
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.