SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
A Gold colored metal and enamel device 1 3/16 inches in height overall consisting of a shield blazoned: Above a white chevron, silver and black checks, charged with three lightning flashes. Below, a West African symbol that represents initiative and versatility. Attached to the shield at the sides and in point a Black scroll inscribed POTENTIA ET ADDUCO ("To Influence and Persuade") in Gold letters.
The white chevron portrays truthful messaging wedging out the opposing propaganda symbolized by the silver and black checkerboard. There are three types of propaganda. White is truthful and identifiable. Grey may or may not be truthful and often will hide its origin, and black may be truthful or untruthful but is usually considered to be false.
The three lightning flashes refer to the unit's lineage in World War II as the 3d Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company. The green base is the primary branch color for Psychological Operations. The yellow West African symbol for initiative and versatility represents the attitude of the members of the Battalion and indicates the geographical area of responsibility for the unit.
The distinctive unit insignia was approved for the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion effective 16 October 2011.
Coat of Arms
Shield: A chevron at the center, black and grey checks above, and below a West African symbol for initiative and versatility.
Crest: A black and white wreath at the bottom, and a truck wheel, on top of which is a depiction of an early model microphone with five lightning flashes above.
Motto: POTENTIA ET ADDUCO (To Influence and Persuade)
Shield: The white chevron portrays truthful messaging wedging out the opposing propaganda symbolized by the silver and black checkerboard. The green base is the primary branch color for Psychological Operations. The yellow West African symbol for initiative and versatility represents the attitude of the members of the Battalion and indicates the geographical area of responsibility for the unit.
Crest: The crest refers to the Battalion's World War II lineage as the 3d Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company. The truck tire indicates this was a mobile unit the microphone is a vintage 1940s style and represents the broadcasting aspect with the three bars indicating the numeric designation. The five lightning flashes refer to the five World War II campaigns the Company participated in.
Background: The coat of arms was approved for the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion effective 16 October 2011.
7th PSYOP Battalion Challenge Coin
Loudspeaker equipped tank
I could write 10,000 words on the birth of American PSYOP in WWII, but this is a brief look, not a detailed study. Much the data can be found in Report of Operations 12th Army Group. I will just lightly touch on it.
The 7th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) was first constituted on 23 December 1943 in the Regular Army as the 3rd Mobile Radio Broadcast Company and was activated on 29 December 1943 at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. The unit was deployed to the European Theater of Operations during World War II.
Many of the terms we will use in this section will sound quite foreign to current PSYOP members. It was a different time and a different war and everything was brand new and being tried out for the first time.
The initial planning for a Public Relations Task Force for the campaign in Europe was accomplished by the Public relations Officer of the European Theater of Operation in January 1943. In March 1943, a small Public Relations Task Force accompanied the First Canadian Army in their Spartan War Game to uncover possible weaknesses.
In November 1943, the First U.S. Army Group was activated and called for a public relations staff. Notice at this time there was no use of the words Propaganda, PSYWAR, or PSYOP. The civilian Office of War Information was already producing white propaganda while the Office of Strategic Services was doing black propaganda. As might be expected, the Army wanted to do its own propaganda and thought some combination of Public Relations and Psychological Warfare would work best. The result of this was the 6808th Publicity and Psychological Warfare Service Battalion. Mobile Radio Broadcasting Companies were incorporated into the Battalion.
The First U.S. Army Group was soon absorbed by the 12th Army Group in the United Kingdom. The PSYWAR staff had no equipment so borrowed from the OWI, the OSS, and British civilian agencies.
The 105 mm Leaflet shell
Tests were conducted in leaflet dissemination by the 105 mm shell, and firing tables and range tables were established. Experiments were conducted in the air dropping of leaflets and the employment of combat loudspeaker equipment in the field.
According to Leaflet Operations in the Western European Theater, 1944-1945, published by the Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF:
The employment of artillery for leafleting can be traced back to the French use of the 75 mm field piece for propaganda purposes on the Western Front in 1918. In WWII, the idea was first put into practice with the British 25-pounder during the Tunisian campaign of 1942-43.
Although experiments were made with the propaganda use of other artillery weapons, the 105 mm in the U. S. Area, and the 25-pounder in the British, were the mainstays of the artillery leafleting effort. Limited use was made of the 155 mm smoke shell. However, when firing it at ranges over 5,000 yards it is generally impossible to observe where shells burst except by aerial observation, which is often unavailable. This is somewhat of a drawback to the use of longer-range weapons that the 105 mm.
Soldiers check out leaflets before loading them into artillery shells
Publicity and Psychological Warfare mentions artillery leafleting in WWII:
The basic weapon used for the purpose of firing leaflets in the American Army was the 105 mm Howitzer M2 or M2A1 and the shell used was the 105 mm shell, Smoke M64 or M2A1. This shell was drawn by psychological warfare personnel and modified by them for leaflet use. The M84 BE Smoke shell was equipped with the M54 fuse capable of 25 seconds time of flight which corresponds approximately to a range of 8,000 yards. At distances greater than 8,000 yards the M 67 fuse which has a time of flight of 75 seconds was tested. This utilizes the maximum range of the 105 mm Howitzer, approximately 12,000 yards.
A limited use of the 155 mm Howitzer smoke shell was made in the European Theater, but despite the fact that three times as many leaflets may be placed in the 155 mm than in the 105 mm, ordnance officers concerned with the supply of ammunition believe it is more efficient and cheaper to fire 3 rounds of the 105 mm in preference to one round of 155 mm.
Loading 105 mm leaflet artillery shell
Arthur T. Hadley mentions the problem of finding the shells in Heads or Tails: A Life of Random Luck and Risky Choices. He says the biggest problem he had as a member of the Fifth Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company in support of the 12th Army group in 1944 was finding smoke shells. He would send his men out to scrounge for smoke shells and then they would seek shelter where they could remove the smoke canisters and insert the leaflet rolls. This problem was never solved.
William E. Daugherty mentions the MRB Companies in an article entitled U.S. Psychological Warfare Organizations in WWII":
In the separate American Army groups and field armies special staff sections were organized to coordinate the staff planning and operational problems of waging psychological warfare. These army groups and field armies were assigned field units called Mobile Radio Broadcasting Companies. In all, five such companies were activated during the war and sent to Europe; the first being sent to the Italian Front and the last four to the Northwest Europe front.
Alfred E. Paddock adds in U.S. Army Special Warfare: Its Origins:
The basic field operating unit for psychological warfare was the Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company The equipment for these units was unlike anything conventional soldiers had seen in the field public address systems, radios, monitoring sets, loudspeakers, typewriters, mobile printing presses and leaflet bombs.
WWII Loudspeaker Team in the field
The first actual guidance for psychological warfare was in a SHAEF memorandum entitled: Conduct of Psychological Warfare in Operation Overlord, dated 22 April 1944. It directed that a Mobile Radio Broadcasting Company would accompany each of the First and Third U.S. Armies.
Combat propaganda was to include the writing and dissemination of leaflets, oral addresses by loudspeakers, intelligence operations and tactical radio broadcasting. By now, the Battalion containing two radio companies was renamed the 72nd Publicity Service Battalion. Within the MRB companies were the men and equipment for the actual printing of leaflets and news-sheets. The Companies had specially designed mobile printing presses with 2.5 ton trucks.
The First issue of the 12th Army Group newspaper for German troops, Frontpost, appeared on 14 August 1944. Frontpost was made up like a newspaper, not a leaflet. It contained news, a map of the western Front, features, German sports news and general information. It did not harangue the German troops with propaganda.
The Official Safe Conduct Pass for the Germans
The story of the "Passierschein" (safe conduct pass) for Germany is interesting because of the alleged belief on the part of the Allies that the German officer or soldier would react in a positive way to an official looking document. Therefore, the Americans and British collaborated to produce a fancy official document bearing national seals and signatures that would rival a stock certificate. They produced the leaflets late in the war in various formats with different code numbers.
Paul M.A. Linebarger mentions the theory in Psychological Warfare, Infantry Journal Press, Washington D.C., 1948. He says:
Germans liked things done in an official and formal manner, even in the midst of chaos, catastrophe and defeat. The Allied obliged, and gave the Germans various forms of very official looking surrender passes. One is printed in red and has banknote-type engraving which makes it resemble a soap-premium coupon.
Daniel Lerner says in Sykewar, George E. Stewart, NYC, 1949:
This safe conduct pass was generally regarded as the most successful leaflet produced by the Psychological Warfare Branch of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) everything about the leaflet was designed to appear authoritative: the format handsomely engraved on good paper in a rich color, has been described as looking like a college diploma.
The Ei ssorenda Leaflet
This is the English and American pronunciation of the words I surrender. (I surrender). Make use of it when opportunity arises
Sergeant Simon J. Lewin mentions his time in the 3rd MRB Company in Reflections and Repercussions. He says in part:
Inducted into the U.S. Army at Ft. Dix, I received my basic training at Camp Crowder, then more training at Camp Ritchie, the Army Intelligence training center and final instructions in England. Nine days after D day, my convoy sailed out of the same port I had departed nine years earlier for America. The sights and sounds were music to my ears. I stood at the railing in all my battle gear and - wept. In my wildest dreams of "revenge", I could not have imagined returning to Europe with quite such an awesome armada...After landing in Normandy, I was assigned the task to persuade German soldiers to surrender - by loudspeaker and leaflet, and, on occasion, interrogate just surrendered prisoners....Soon after landing in Normandy, I realized that offering only the traditional choice of "death or surrender" was useless against soldiers trained to follow orders obediently. Don't mention politics, or allude to their 'loved ones at home'; even patriotism becomes lost on a battlefield. Just convey definite, simple instructions on how to surrender", I proposed to my superiors, and then devised a simple phonetic way to teach enemy soldiers a few simple steps: "Ei ssorenda" would become the basic message of every leaflet and every loudspeaker appeal directed into enemy lines, together with a few simple steps on "how to surrender". Repeated over and over, this tactic proved increasingly effective. Eventually, I learned, from some just captured prisoners, that long before surrendering, they had practiced among themselves the "correct" pronunciation. "Ei ssorenda" became an insidious challenge, intruding into enemy minds and eventually the trigger for surrender. Subtly and obliquely, the strategy - call it brainwashing - worked.
In concluding this portion I want to point out that although the Mobile Radio Station sounds like a unit that just broadcast over the air; in fact we see they were expected to print leaflets, posters and other literature, use loudspeakers; be able to fix and broadcast over the radio, and perform intelligence and interrogating. They had all the responsibilities of a modern PSYOP company. The bloodlines are clear.
The unit was inactivated on 25 November 1945 in Germany. As always, the U.S. Army seems to forget everything it learned after victory in a war. It had to relearn it all in Korea and again in Vietnam. We now look at the return of the 7th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam.
7th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam
Loudspeaker equipped truck
The 6th PSYOP Battalion was originally responsible for all psychological operations (PSYOP) in Vietnam.
On 10 February 1966, three companies were formed within the 6th PSYOP Battalion to provide tactical propaganda support.
1. 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.
2. The 245th PSYOP Company served II Corps initially from Nha Trang. The unit was subsequently relocated to Pleiku (in II Corps) when the 6th PSYOP Battalion became the 4th PSYOP Group and the radio station was built as 8th Battalion's "B" Company.
3. The 246th PSYOP Company served III Corps from Bien Hoa, about 20 miles northeast of Saigon in III Corps.>
4. The 19th PSYOP Company was activated at Ft. Bragg as part of the 3rd Special Forces Group on 10 August 1962. On 19 November 1966 it 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.
In this article we will concentrate on the 244th PSYOP Company because on 01 December 1967 it would be redesignated 7th PSYOP Battalion.
The 244th PSYOP Company
244th PSYOP Company Headquarters in Vietnam, 1968
The 1st PSYOP Field Support Detachment at Da Nang and the 27th PSYWAR Detachment at Quang Ngai merged to form the 244th PSYOP Company with initial headquarters at Da Nang. The 244th PSYOP Company served combat units in I Corps and the South Vietnamese Armys 3rd PSYWAR Battalion from an initial station in Nha Trang (in II Corps), with a detachment in Quang Ngai in I Corps. Looking through the Detachment 2 Quang Ngai Leaflet and Poster Catalog I note that besides preparing products for American forces, they printed a large number of items for the Vietnamese 2nd Division of the 12th Division Tactical Area (DTA). An Army of the Republic of Vietnam DTA comprised two or more provinces; the DTA commander was also the ARVN division commander, and the DTA was his permanent Tactical Area of Responsibility.
Audio Visual team sets up projector to show movies
The Marine Command Chronology for 1967 mentions working with the 244th PSYOP Company. It says in part:
Hearts and Minds was a huge part of the Marine mission in Vietnam. If the Marines could get the trust of the people, they would benefit from the intelligence on Viet Cong movements from the village chiefs and villagers. The more Vietnamese people who were on the side of the Marines, the more lives of young Americans could be saved by villagers pointing out booby traps or mines.
A county fair was held by Ninh Binh. This hamlet was near to the Nong Son base. An audio/visual team from the 244th PSYOP Company entertained over 1,500 Vietnamese with movies, Chieu Hoi appeals and a request for information on the Viet Cong. The reward program for such information was emphasized.
Vietnamese officials spoke to the villagers of the up and coming elections, and that they must use their votes The election went ahead in Quang Nam and 76.3% of the population turned out to vote At lunchtime the Marine drum and bugle corps arrived and played to the villagers who had never seen such a band before 100 sheets of tin were given to help re-roof the marketplace, and clothes and soap were given to the refugees.
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 comments on the 244th PSYOP Company:
The 244th PSYOP Company set a record of 4 million leaflets printed in one week. Three presses of the Company and one of the 10th Vietnamese POLWAR Battalion operated together in a new print shop built around the vans. Supplies, presses, paper, drafting boards, photo equipment, paper cutter, and finished leaflets are arranged in an assembly line. Production continues even when a press is down for maintenance and rush orders do not delay mass production Major McCraig, Commander of the 244th, provides a monthly orientation course for new Marine PSYOP staff officers and U.S. advisors.
The 244th PSYOP Company is organized functionally in the following elements: Intelligence and Propaganda Section; Audio-Visual and Loudspeaker Teams; Reproduction Section, Supply and Maintenance Section and PSYOP Support Center.
Four Winds is a continuing project being planned by the 244th PSYOP Company. The mission of the project is to extend leaflet coverage to the first Corps Tactical Zone. Four Winds uses all rotary and small fixed wing aircraft by units in the CTZ to drop leaflets. These leaflet drops will be made at random outside the large cities. Each flight will have five bundles of 1000 mixed leaflets.
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 244th PSYOP Company Leaflet & Poster Catalog
My copy of the Catalog is old and faded. The catalog depicts and translates about 100 leaflets. There is a letter inside written by the Commander of the Company, 1st Lieutenant Al T. Burns. As expected in the old days, officers did not have a PSYOP specialty so the Lieutenant was shanghaied from the Infantry. He explains the use of the catalog and says in part:
In compiling this catalog, efforts were made to make the leaflets and posters contained herein as general as possible. But, to give an overall view of our capabilities it was necessary to add leaflets and posters which pertain to specific situations only Any leaflet or poster can be changed to suit your individual situation. If additions and deletions are necessary, indicate along with your request.
This leaflet was prepared by the 244th PSYOP Company in 1968. It was made for Viet Cong that could not read. On the front the VC are defeated in a battle and a badly wounded fighter returns to his base camp and finds that they have left without him. The back shows an alternative scenario. The Viet Cong fighter surrenders and receives immediate medical care.
This leaflet was one selected by the Department of Defense to be evaluated for effectiveness by a test group of about 1,757 Vietnamese civilians, Hoi Chanhs (former Viet Cong who had defected) and North Vietnamese and Viet Cong prisoners of war. The leaflets were judged as very effective, moderately effective or ineffective in a publication entitled The Effectiveness of U.S. PSYOPS Leaflets: A Scale for Pretesting published 7 January 1969. The former Viet Cong questioned about this leaflet found it very bad, counter-effective and unintelligible.
Death Card Poster
This poster is 16 x 10.25-inches in size and printed on one side only; black print on white background; probably designed to be posted on buildings and trees. It has an ace of spades card with skull and crossbones and below it are 4 lines of shaded verse. It is coded 244-298-67, so it was printed by our 244th PSYOP Company in I Corps in 1967.
The poster message is:
The owls are calling for the souls of the Viet Cong
Those wandering souls without destination
Spreading countless horrors to the people
Those wandering souls died in nameless graves
RETURN [to the National Government] OR DIE
Leaflet 244th (Q) 018-67
This leaflet was printed by the 244th PSYOP Company in 1967. It seems to be a fairly early version of the image of the Viet Cong and Allied soldier, in this case a Korean Marine. 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 text on the front is:
Our people should cooperate with the Korean Marines in order to eliminate the Viet Cong
The back of the leaflet is a fairly direct threat which basically says, "Cooperate with the Korean Marines or else." The text is:
The Korean Marines have come here to help the South Vietnamese people. The Korean Marines are now conducting reconnaissance missions and patrols in your villages and out on the front lines to look for the Viet Cong. If you help, conceal, or cooperate with the Viet Cong, allowing them to covertly shoot at the Korean Marines to kill or wound them, your village will inevitably suffer terrible consequences.
You should cooperate with the Korean Marines when they enter your village to eliminate the Viet Cong for the sake of your own self-preservation.
Curiously, I was talking about the Koreans with Vietnam Vet Darrell Bain, and he said:
I like the way the Korean Marines handled their sector. Anytime they got fire from a nearby village, they simply went in and leveled the place. It may not have made many friends but they sure got rid of a lot of enemies.
Apparently, the Koreans were not to be trifled with.
This is a B-52
The Americans believed (and rightly so) that the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong were deathly afraid of the B-52 bomber. As a result, they printed dozens of leaflets depicting the B-52 and dropped them over the enemy in the millions. In what might be considered an odd campaign, the 244th PSYOP Company offered four variation of this leaflet in their Leaflet Catalog of 19--. Each variation depicted the same picture of the giant bomber and text on the front, but a different message on the back. The text on this variant is:
This is a B-52
Your death will bring much grief to your family back home in the North
The text on the back is:
To Our Friends in the North Vietnamese Armed Forces.
The South Vietnamese Government and our allies are well informed of your plans for a total offensive to gain political influence. Therefore, the most advanced weapons will be used by the South Vietnamese and allied soldiers against you. You will be defeated and you have a slim chance of survival. The people and the armed forces of South Vietnam will surely win.
I seldom add all-text leaflet because I think the reader deserves interesting images. However, I think this one is worth adding because it is about defoliation. The Americans and Republic of Vietnam produced many different leaflets that talked of all the benefits of spraying Agent Orange and other defoliants. They apparently had no idea of the long-term medical problems these chemicals would cause. The text on the front of this leaflet is:
To the Citizens:
The Army of Vietnam uses chemicals to destroy trees, bushes and all types of vegetation. Because of this, the Viet Cong do not have a concealed place to live, thus making the the conduct of guerrilla operations limited.
This chemical will not harm people, now will it harm animals such as cattle.
After the harvest, the ground will be more fertile.
There is more good news for the farmer on the back:
Do not believe the Viet Congs invented propaganda that these chemicals are very poisonous because it is a trick.
The Army of Vietnam has made sure that these chemicals are not poisonous. They will not harm people or animals, but will only destroy vegetation.
After the vegetation is destroyed, the Viet Cong will not have a place to hide and sabotage. Then the people will live in peace.
The 7th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam
7th PSYOP Battalion Headquarters in Vietnam
7th PSYOP Battalion area of responsibility in Vietnam
In the I Corps Tactical Zone, the 7th PSYOP Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group was formed in Nha Trang from the 6th Bn's 244th PSYOP Company. It was officially constituted 7 November 1967 in the Regular Army as the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion. It was activated 1 December 1967. Since elements of the 244th PSYOP Company were already in Danang, the 7th PSYOP Battalion absorbed the unit and was headquartered there.
According to the Operations Report Lessons Learned Headquarters 7th Psychological Operations Battalion period ending 31 January, 1968 dated 6 February 1968, the number of leaflets printed during the last quarter of 1967 was 59 million. In addition the battalion took credit for 61 ralliers; Newsletter/Newspapers: 32,000; Ground Loudspeaker Broadcasts: 2,284 hours and 5 minutes; Motion Picture showings: 423 hours and 55 minutes; Movies shown: 699; Leaflets printed: 59,944,800; Leaflets printed Chieu Hoi: 14,977,610; Posters printed: 646,350; Total impressions: 13,850,249; New leaflets: 168; Sorties: 1222; Leaflets dropped: 620,140,500; Airborne Loudspeaker Broadcasts: 863 hours and 45 minutes and Leaflets shipped: 10,121,900.
Two additional battalion records were set during the quarter as they produced a total of 2 million leaflets in one day and a total of 7,250,500 leaflets in one week.
According to the Operations Report Lessons Learned Headquarters 7th Psychological Operations Battalion period ending 30 April 1970, dated 11 May 1970, in 89 days of continuous operations the battalion produced 77,297,737 6 x 3-inch leaflets. The number of requests for development and printing support fluctuated from a low of 55 in February to a high of 113 in March. The small number of requests for local development and printing support received during February is attributed to the large volume of off-shore printed materials disseminated in support of the TET campaign during that period.
An increase in rallier appeal leaflet requests and in the number of items developed in support of the Phoenix/Phung Hoang Program accounted for the increased support rendered by the battalion in March. During this reporting period, the 7th Battalion supported the Phoenix/Phung Hoang Program in its campaign to induce the local populace to report the location of VC through the use of "wanted" posters.
Edwin Roberts says in The Psychological War for Vietnam, 1960-1968: University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 2018:
The 7th PSYOP Battalion in Da Nang attempted to hire a Vietnamese illustrator to insure a more culturally appropriate product in its corps. For example, a JUSPAO report warned: A local artist would know better than to show a father publicly mourning the death of his young child; and depicting a female ex-Viet Cong Hoi Chanh with a cigarette in her hand would impair her credibility as a communicator.
7th PSYOP Battalion print vans in Vietnam
A 1968 U.S. Army 4th PSYOP Group booklet for newly arriving members says:
Winning the hearts and minds of the people of I Corps is one responsibility of the 7th PSYOP Battalion in Da Nang. Working closely with the Marine Corps, the battalion also provides PSYOP support for all operations in the northernmost corps. This support comes in the form of leaflet and broadcast messages and field teams. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, the battalion provided teams to such areas as Hue and Khe Sanh to give assistance to Allied units in battle scarred areas. The battalion headquarters is located on the ARVN 10th Political Warfare (POLWAR) Battalion compound. Enlisted men of the unit live in the Palace Hotel while Officers reside in the Hotel Than Nhat. During off-duty time, the men of the battalion relax at one of the many beaches located in the Da Nang area. Although the city itself is off limits to American military personnel, many recreational facilities are provided within a short distance of the battalion compound.
U-10 aircraft dropping leaflets in Vietnam
Although we dont know what specific propaganda leaflets were dropped on the Communist forces besieging the Marines as Khe Sanh, we do know that C-47 aircraft from Flight A of the 9th Air Commando Squadron, 14th Air Commando Wing, dropped a total of 31,000,000 leaflets in adverse weather on the enemy and the units Commander was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for deterring enemy forces from conducting a massive ground assault on the Khe Sahn position.
Loudspeaker team accompanies a combat unit on patrol
Captain Anthony Mottle was a Detachment Commander in the 7th PSYOP Battalion based in
in 1970. When asked about his duties he said: Da Nang
The mission of the unit was to support the various units in I CORPS. We had a propaganda section in Da Nang that produced leaflets for units such as the 1st Marine Division, the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division at Phu Bai, The 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division at Chu Lai and the 1st Brigade of the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division. We had a Vietnamese psychologist working for us in the propaganda section. We usually assigned two-man teams to the supported units that went out with the maneuver forces to broadcast to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops. We had helicopters at our disposal at the various units to broadcast to the enemy and disseminate leaflets. We also participated in Medical Civic Action Programs.
U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Cook served in Headquarters Company and later B Company, 7th PSYOP Battalion in Da Nang City as the Battalion Photographer from January to December 1970. At the time the 7th Battalion was quartered at the White Elephant Hotel, across the street from the Interrogation Center, and next to the CORDs building. About January 1971 the Battalion moved across the river to China Beach. He told me:
We had a work compound in the city close to camp Tien Shaw (an old French fort taken over by the Navy). We provided PSYOP support for all Army and Marine combat units in I corps. We also supported ARVN combat units in I corps. We worked with Civil Operations and Rural Development (CORDS) providing support for Medical Civil Action Programs (MEDCAPS), Yet Thi, Phu Heuong, and Phoenix. For operation purposes we were directly under 5th Special Forces Group Nha Trang.
American-made North Vietnamese Propaganda Currency
The Counterfeits were of a higher grade
The 9th SOS (Special Operations Squadron) at Da Nang Airbase was used for air support, making leaflet drops, and special missions all over I Corps. At the north end of Da Nang Airbase were about 100 Conex containers that were filled with leaflets and counterfeit currency. We had one container that was filled with boxes of counterfeit currency that were so real that even North Vietnamese officials had a problem telling the difference. Of course, there are always problems. I was told that right after we filled one container North Vietnam changed their money rendering that container worthless, and useless. If I remember we were told that the watermarks on the Counterfeits were either wrong or had been changed. I am not an expert on currency so really don't recall exactly what the problem was.
Back in the 1970s a lot more counterfeit money was available than most people think, although it was tightly controlled. Every bill had to be accounted for 24 hours a day. This was the only item that was not pilfered. If anyone of us got caught with any of it you could expect nothing less than a courts martial and serious time behind bars. From time to time myself and another member of the unit were sent on leaflet runs to Quang Tri and Phu Bui. One time my partner and I took a jeep from Quang Tri Combat Base, followed by an American civilian who we did not know, in another jeep, about 40 kilometers north. The jeep had 5 or 6 boxes marked Hoi Bin (peace). We left the jeep in a clearing just off the road, and returned to Quang Tri Combat Base to spend the night. We returned the next morning to find an empty jeep and the boxes gone.
In conclusion, The 7th Battalion had about 150 men at any given time, with about half assigned to combat operations with other units in I Corps. In Vietnam the 7th Battalion was an efficient and hard-working unit. My experience was very good at times, and very bad at other times. I would not trade one minute of those times for anything.
Sp5 Pasquale Vallese
Specialist 5th Class Pasquale Vallese who was in
Vietnamfrom November 1968 to November 1969 as part of the Army 7th PSYOP Battalion attached to the 3rd Marine Division remarked: U.S.
I was assigned to B company, and I was sent to Dong Ha, stationed with the 3rd Marines at their base camp. Our unit was the Marines G2/G5 staff, so we did have a sort of free hand in our comings and goings. We did the field broadcasting with Kit Carson Scouts and ARVN interpreters throughout northern I Corps. I found out early that the Marines like to use the PSYOP message to draw fire to locate the
Regulars so I revised our field speaker system. My first revision was to get 50 yards of speaker cable, do some splicing and soldering and cut the speaker rack down to two horns from four. That made it a little safer to broadcast. We are talking 1968 thru 1969. I Corps had just lost Khe Sanh and NVA and VC were a tough audience to convince to Chieu Hoi. However, We did have some walk right up to us with their safe conduct passes. North Vietnam
PSYOP team member announces information on a movie that will be projected from his vehicle in Vietnam
Specialist Pasquale Vallese told me on a second occasion:
At night we would travel down Highway One towards Quang Tri, and get into those back-road villages for MEDCAP (Medical Civic Action Programs). We were just one truck with a movie projector, a generator, a screen, an interpreter, a reel of the latest Armed Forces TV show (usually The Wild Wild West), and a Vietnamese language film or two about good health practices. I have no idea how they knew what James West was saying, but the people really enjoyed watching our shows.
Sergeant Rich Hosier with a Viet Cong Colonel who went Chieu Hoi
Rich Hosier was originally assigned to the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam in August 1967. 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.
One of the great problems with writing these stories is digging information out of the vets who had boots on the ground. After this story was complete I talked to Rich Hosier and he agreed to send me more data and photographs. I want to thank Rich personally for taking the time to put this material together for our readers.
Preparing for a Mission
Rich Hosier and Marine Staff-Sergeant Conticelli (his first Team Leader), preparing for a mission in December 1967. This was in support of Operation Muscatine, which was a Division size operation in the Southern I Corps. They ran daybreak and dusk missions for 27 straight days. The flights were provided by the 123rd aviation company.
The Viet Cong tend to shoot at Loudspeakers
Rich told me:
On those days we were not in the field, we would take a couple of our Chieu Hoi's on a drive up Highway 1 find what looked like a Viet Cong trail, point the jeep toward a tree line or village and broadcast messages. In March 1968, we were coming off LZ Baldy in Quang Tin Province, south of Da Nang and north of Tam Ky, province capital. Our Chieu Hoi was sitting in the back seat broadcasting and we suddenly took several rounds of fire one of which hit our jeep. The bullet went right by the broadcaster and hit our spare tire!
Setting up a Loudspeaker System on a Jeep
Rich spoke about setting up his jeep and his former Chieu Hoi team mamber. He said:
This is January 1968 on LZ Baldy. I send this to show how we had our speakers attached to our jeep. The Chieu Hoi in the background was our first, who came from the Tam Ky Center. His name was Tran Loi. He was 19 years old, had been a school teacher in a small village and when the VC came on recruiting tours the villagers hid Loi. Finally they knew they couldn't hide him forever and brought him to Tam Ky. The colonel reached out to us and told us Loi was smart and would make a good man for our team. Good call on his part; he was outstanding.
After Tet 68, a Viet Cong has had enough
This picture shows a Viet Cong guerrilla who gave up as Rich and his team were broadcasting. They were with an ARVN company in Quang Tin province shortly after TET, in March 1968. This guerrilla was so close to where they we were broadcasting that they didn't even know he was there until he stood up and walked toward them.
More Viet Cong call it Quits!
The Viet Cong were almost wiped out in Tet 68. 37,000 may have been killed during the heavy fighting. Here, a group of VC soldiers who gave up in March of 1968 near Tam Ky, where a Chieu Hoi center was located.
Supporting the Marines with a Loudspeaker Mission
In June of 1968, the Marines were taking heavy fire and Rich was called upon to set up his loudspeakers on an Armed Personnel Carrier (APC) and broadcast to the enemy on Highway 1, just south of Hoi An.
A Former Viet Cong Speaks to his old Comrades.
Here is one of the Hoi Chanhs attached to the PSYOP Detachment on top of the APC shown above broadcasting to his friends still fighting the Vietnamese government and their allies.
The Marines make a House Call
Hosier stated that:
Lieutenant Stewart Clark III was the 7th PSYOPs Detachment 3 Commander and supported the Amercal Division located in Chu Lai. Here Clark, Hosier and Marine Sergeant Major Roger Fahrengruh are on the river from Chu Lai to a local village to perform a United States Medical civic action program (MEDCAP). Treating the local Vietnamese for various diseases and medical problem was an excellent way to win hearts and minds. This was April 1969, and Hosier went along for the ride and was happy to report that there was no unfriendly fire!
A 7th Battalion audiovisual truck
Homer Hodge was a 7th PSYOP Battalion audio/visual team leader that operated from Detachment 3, in Chu Lai. He told me:
I was a newly commissioned Field Artillery officer right out of Officer Candidates School when I arrived in Vietnam in December 1968, but I had eight years previous intelligence work and PSYOP training as an enlisted man with tours in Korea and Japan. I believe that early experience provided me a better understanding of Vietnamese culture and much greater insight into the rural people, their daily lives and hardships, and community. As a result I developed much respect for and empathy toward those Vietnamese with whom I met and associated. This understanding enabled my team to tailor our message to the maximum extent possible, considering available tools and material.
The team prepares to ride boats to a remote village with its loudspeaker equipment
During my tour, I provided PSYOP audio/visual support to rifle companies on operations, Military Assistance Command-Vietnam advisor teams, Vietnamese Army Special Forces teams, and even a U.S. Marine Combined Action Program team. My team spent numerous days and nights in rural villages and drew hostile fire a few times. Our Vietnamese Kit Carson scout (a former Viet Cong who went Chieu Hoi) saved our lives more than once with his advice on where to go and not go.
Team members Specialist Four Esch, Kit Carson scout Loi, and Homer Hodge
Our Kit Carsen Scout Loi seemed to have an intuitive sense of areas and villages where Viet Cong might be waiting in ambush for us. On one occasion, we were accompanying U.S. MACV advisors to a village, when Loi said we should turn back. We did but the MACV advisors continued on and ran into small arms fire and had to execute a rapid retreat.
The 7th PSYOP Battalion Leaflet Catalog
My copy of this catalog is dated 1 July 1969. It depicts and translates about 100 leaflets and even breaks them down according to PSYOP campaign. There are five main types of leaflet. They are: Chieu Hoi; Pro-Republic of Vietnam; Anti-Viet Cong; Anti- Peoples Army of North Vietnam; and Rewards.
Each PSYOP Battalion published a catalog list of 600 to 800 available leaflets. The catalog was numerically indexed and gave data on leaflet number, theme, target, size and color of the leaflet together with the leaflet and English translation. Catalogs were inventoried and screened periodically to maintain current leaflets. Catalogs were distributed to tactical units and PSYOP customers to facilitate ordering specific leaflets for the target audiences.
There are probably thousands of leaflets prepared by the 7th PSYOP Battalion. I have selected just a few. Otherwise, the next 40-50 pages would be all Vietnam leaflets.
I guess if we had to give this leaflet a nickname it would be the Airborne leaflet. The front depicts the insignia of both the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. The text is very long on the front and back so I will just translate a few lines:
To the People of Quan Huong-Thuy
In order to effectively protect your lives and property, the U.S. Airborne with full experience in battle has just arrived in your area. These brave allies desire to contribute to the struggle for the freedom and peace of humankind The Airborne will stay here to protect your country until the aggressive communists stop their attempt to invade South Vietnam Cooperate with the Airborne in annihilating the aggressive communists who are destroying this land and trying to enslave the Vietnamese people.
Since we are talking about the 7th PSYOP Battalion, the Marines and Khe Sanh, this seems a nice place for this leaflet. If you want to piss off a Marine, tell him how the Army and Air Force saved the Leathernecks during the 1968 seventy-seven day siege of Khe Sanh. Marines will tell you that they were doing just fine and had the enemy right where they wanted them. Ask the Army and you will hear that the Marines were getting the Hell kicked out of them by the NVA. During the ferocious battle for Khe Sanh, the 7th PSYOP Battalion prepared a leaflet for the North Vietnamese forces taking part in the attack. The front of the leaflet depicts a map of Khe Sanh and a Huey helicopter and F4 Phantom jet attacking the forces encircling the Marine base. Curiously, there is no mention of the Marines. The text beneath the picture is:
The North Vietnamese will fail in their attempts to seize Quang Tri and Thua Thien Provinces. The Government of Vietnam and Allied firepower is defending every part of the South. You cannot survive if your invasion continues. You will be destroyed at Khe Sanh.
The text on the back is:
To the Men who Attack Khe Sanh
The march to Khe Sanh was a long and dangerous one. Many of your comrades who have come over to us speak of the misery you faced before you reached the desolate battlefield. Since arriving you have seen nothing but suffering and death. You have seen the tremendous B-52 strikes with bombs which will soon find you as they have found your comrades. From the artillery that has poured on you all day and night do you now realize how strong the Army of Vietnam and the Allied forces are? Now look at the valley to which you have been sent to die. You are surrounded instead of us. You are in the kill zone. To stay here means suffering, death and ultimate failure in a place far from your dear family.
If you want to get safely back to your family, leave now or rally to the National Government of Vietnam cause. Otherwise, Khe Sanh will be your useless grave.
This is an interesting leaflet because it bears a photograph on each side. Unfortunately, the paper is thin and some of the ink comes through making the pictures difficult to see clearly. The front depicts Vietnamese farmer working in his field. The text is:
Continue to work when U.S. Forces come. Do not run away because there is nothing to be afraid of.
The back depicts the same farmer shaking hands with a U.S. soldier. The text is:
U.S. soldiers are your friends; they help to secure your safety. When they come, if you run away, it is very difficult for them to distinguish innocent people from the Viet Cong. So, do not run away but continue to do your work.
In general, American PSYOP is told not to show dead or disfigured enemy bodies because it can be mistaken for gloating and the enemy tends to fight harder after seeing such leaflets. Still, Americans like them and believe they scare the hell out of an enemy. This 7th PSYOP Battalion leaflet coded 7-361-68 depicts a row of dead Communist Viet Cong. The leaflet was picked up near Landing Zone Bronco, Dac Pho village, I Corps, by a SP4 of the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division's 11th Light Infantry Brigade in 1968. Text below the photograph on the front is:
These people are dead. Will you be just like them?
The text on the back is in part:
To the cadres of the [South Vietnam] Liberation Front in Quang Ngai Province
Leaflet 7-406-68 reveals a photo of a body of a dead Viet Cong guerrilla left in the jungle, abandoned by his comrades who left so quickly they didn't even bother to retrieve his weapons (note the grenade still on his belt). The text on the leaflet is:
Don't let this happen to you!
The 7 th produced many anti-Communist leaflets that depicted the bodies of innocent civilians killed by the Viet Cong. This leaflet shows a civilian crying near a dead person on the street. Text at the right is:
This is a crazy and senseless death
7th PSYOP Battalion Death Card
This card coded 7-1040-69 was printed by the U.S. Army 7th PSYOP Battalion in 1969. The skull on the front is a bit odd and perhaps more Asian than American. The back is all text with a green Chieu Hoi symbol in the background. What I find most strange about this item was that the official U.S. line on death cards was that they were useless and there were even some attempts to ban the troops from using them. Yet, here an American PSYOP unit actually produced one. I suspect an informal off-the-cuff request from some supported combat unit that wanted them and the PSYOP Battalion prepared them just as a courtesy. The text on the back is:
No place is safe for you. You have no place to hide. Your only option is to return to the just nationalist cause by rallying in order to stay alive.
CAP 1-3-9 Ace of Spade
In spring of 1970 the United States Marine Combined Action Platoon (CAP) 1-3-9 stationed in Binh Song about 14 kilometers east of Tra Bong received intelligence indicating that they were about to be attacked by a large force of regular North Vietnamese Army troops. PSYOP was called in to help with the defense of the unit and they dropped a leaflet coded 7-301-70 depicting an ace of spades on the front with the text:
DIE! The same thing will happen again
The back of the leaflet is all text:
NVA from Hanoi, 116 died on September 12, 1969 in Ah Phong. NVA should never come back here again because they will die.
One of the more interesting PSYOP campaigns supported by the 7th PSYOP Battalion was Operation Searchlight. It was launched in Military Region I and was designed to influence enemy soldiers to defect during the Tet truce period of 19-29 January 1971. Giant searchlights would be aimed at the sky and the enemy urged to follow the beam to the searchlight where they could safely surrender. During an earlier test of the searchlight operation on 1 January, eleven Viet Cong defected. In the major operation the U.S. 101st Airborne Division used six lights, the 2nd Vietnamese Army Division, the U.S. 1st Marine Division and the U.S. 23rd Infantry Division all used five lights each. The operation was not a great success, and estimates of from zero to seven to thirty-seven defectors were rumored. The above leaflet was prepared by the 7th PSYOP Battalion for Operation Searchlight. It depicts a pair of searchlights aimed skyward and the Chieu Hoi Symbol. The PSYOP theme was Rally to the light of freedom and start a new life with the Government of Vietnam. Two broadcast tapes were prepared and 6,000,000 leaflets, 500,000 handbills and 10,000 posters were printed and disseminated. The text is:
THE LIGHT OF FREEDOM
During the cease fire period of Tan Hoi New Year, all
United States, , and other Allied bases will turn on their searchlight at night. The searchlight will help you to find freedom. Move toward the direction of light, hide your weapon and wait until the daylight to rally. When getting close to the Government of Vietnam or Allied units, shout aloud CHIEU HOI. You will be welcomes and receive good treatment. Guide the Government of Vietnam or Allied forces to recover your weapon for a reward. Vietnam
MOVE TO THE SEARCHLIGHT
DO NOT LET YOURSELF GET KILLED IN THE DARK
VC surrenders holding Chieu Hoi leaflet
It is impossible to determine how many Chieu Hoi leaflets were produced during the length of the war. The Leaflet Catalog, 7th PSYOP Battalion, Danang, 1969, lists no less than 65 leaflets in the special category "Chieu Hoi." The first is 7-757-68, "Soldier of North Vietnam," the last is 7-528-69, "The Nguyen Trai Campaign." The latter was a campaign to psychologically attack enemy cadre and soldiers to cause them to rally. These 65 leaflets are just from a single battalion in a bit more than one year of the war.
The 7th PSYOP catalog also mentions various mixes of Chieu Hoi leaflets that were designed to be dropped together. For instance, mix 4 consists of 7-565-68 "With aching Heart," 7-690-68 "Chieu Hoi Poems," and 7-757-68 "Chieu Hoi is for VC/NVA." Mix 12 consists of JUSPAO leaflets SP3210 "I can't stop weeping," and SP3211 "Rallying helps you return to your friends."
British Malaya Leaflet 3211/HPWS/18
It is interesting to note that in the 1950s the British has successfully conquered a Communist insurrection in
Malaya. American propagandists studied the British techniques carefully. Note that British Leaflet 3211/HPWS/18 was printed about 1954 and depicts three guerillas discussing a searchlight in the distance. It is clear that the Americans copied the concept of the searchlight leaflet 16 years later. The text on the back is:
SEARCH LIGHT LEADS YOU TO THE ROAD OF ESCAPE
Look for the bright ray of the searchlight in the night sky. The searchlight is shining from the road.
If you want to escape from the forest to start a bright new life then run in the direction of the light to reach the road. The road will take you to a brand new happy and peaceful living environment.
Before you reach the road, please hide your weapons and ammunition. Then run to the road, raise both your hands high above your head and try to stop the first car that passes by.
All military drivers have been ordered to help you, and at the same time, civilians that assist you will receive a cash award.
If you stay in the jungle you will definitely be either shot dead ravaged by disease and hunger. A lot of people have escaped from the jungle and saved their own lives. Dont you want to save your life? Sacrificing yourself for an unnecessary and losing battle is a stupid thing to do.
You will definitely not be abused and you will immediately receive good food and medical treatment.
Come and join the side where your friends have already begun a new life.
For some reason the 7th PSYOP Battalion seemed to really enjoy printing reward leaflets. I find more from them than from most other units. Leaflet 7-249-68 depicts a happy black-pajama clad VC handing his rifle to an Army of Vietnam (ARVN) soldier. In his left hand, the happy former terrorist holds a big wad of banknotes. The text reads:
All Patriots who support the "Operation Search for the Enemy's Weapons" will be rewarded.
The Battalion printed about a dozen reward leaflets in 1969 alone. Most of them actually show cash being handed to the informers. On the front of this leaflet a local farmer leads government forces to armaments hidden in a cave and a handful of cash appears. The text is:
This place contains murderous communist weapons
On the back we see the smiling farmers hut and his wife and child. The text is:
It can give you and your family a happy and prosperous life if you report the location of Communist weapons caches to the local authorities or to Allied troops. Your name will be kept secret.
Leaflet 7-281-69 depicts two Viet Cong guerrillas handling a large rocket while a hidden Vietnamese civilian peers at them from the bushes. On the back, the same villager is shown being handed a reward by a soldier of the South Vietnamese Army, so it is obvious that the villager has informed on the two Viet Cong insurgents. The text on the front is:
We want you to know that the Rocket the Viet Cong make you carry and hide is very dangerous. There is great danger that the Rocket will kill and wound innocent people. If you know someone who has the rocket, you need to immediately tell the nearest Government or Army personal so that they can stop these blood thirsty rockets.
Text on the back is:
You are not only doing a great job for the people, you will also receive a great reward.
The United States has made a great effort in the last few decades to rid the world of mines placed in the ground during wartime. Here is an anti-mine leaflet from the Vietnam War. The 7th PSYOP Battalion printed leaflet 7-503-71. It depicts a young boy pointing out a bomb with tripwire to a soldier. The text beneath the picture is:
Many civilians have been killed by enemy explosives and booby traps. Report to military units or local authorities as soon as you discover Viet Cong mines, explosive, grenades and traps.
Text on the back is:
Attention people! The communists usually set booby traps along our paths, plant mines on our highways, and place bombs in residential areas to interfere with our daily activities. They also hide their weapons and ammunition which they use to terrorize innocent civilians whenever the circumstances permit them to do so. If you discover the enemys weapons or see anything which resembles a booby trap, you must immediately inform the Army of Vietnam or allied soldiers so that they can remove them. By doing so, you can save your own life and property and those of others.
The U.S. 7th PSYOP Battalion also printed leaflet 7-559-68. The leaflet has a photo of two types of mines that were commonly used by the Viet Cong. The text beneath the photo is:
Please inform [the government] about where the Viet Cong have laid mines. You will not only save many lives, you will also earn a reward.
The back of the leaflet is all text:
Report Viet Cong Mines: All citizens of Duc Pho County who are loyal to our national ideology will fight to destroy communist tyranny. Whenever you see communist mines [planted] on the National Highway 1, or anywhere, please report at once to the authorities, the soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam, or the Allies. You can earn a reward of at least 2500 piasters. Your patriotic duty is a practical way to save many lives from the murderous Viet Cong. Your name will be kept secret.
[Signed], County Commander, Nguyen Duc Trinh.
According to the 1969 declassified report: Employment of US Army Psychological Operations Units in Vietnam, the 7th PSYOP Battalion also printed a newspaper for the Vietnamese:
Ban Tin (News Clips), was issued twice weekly, two pages, 72,000 copies per edition. The 7th PSYOP Battalion printed Ban Tin for Vietnamese target audiences in Corps Tactical Zone I.
As the war neared its end in 1970, the 7th PSYOP Battalion developed and printed posters and leaflets for use by Long Range Reconnaissance and Force Reconnaissance units. The posters and leaflet mixes targeted the Viet Cong and Peoples Army of North Vietnam and were designed to be disseminated in enemy base areas by the reconnaissance units as they exited an area.
The 7th PSYOP Battalion began working with the III Marine Amphibious Force PSYOP Intelligence Section to develop a special campaign directed against the 31st NVA Regiment in Quang Nam Province. The III MAF PSYOP was interested in such a campaign both to target an important enemy unit and to initiate a system by which US field units can more effectively identify and target psychological vulnerabilities of NVA troops. Themes used in the past in the NVA campaign had little apparent effect; fewer than four hundred NVA soldiers rallied in 1969 In all of South Vietnam, though PW interrogation reports show that Allied propaganda efforts do have some deleterious effect on NVA morale. The special campaign against the 31st Regiment targeted ideological weaknesses in propaganda that made special reference to unit personalities. Three leaflets were developed especially for use against the unit before and during TET, and other items would be produced for use later in 1969.
The U.S. Pulls out of Vietnam
The 7th PSYOP Battalion was the last PSYOP Headquarters to depart Vietnam on 21 December 1971 and was inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington. They did not stay inactive for long. With the cold war and small wars and guerrilla movement all around the world, There was a need for PSYOP Battalions.
On 30 October 1975, it was Redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 7th Psychological Operations Battalion; then withdrawn from the Active Army and allotted to the Army Reserve in Washington, D.C. On 17 September 1990, it was deactivated at Washington, D.C. However, it would soon reappear once again like the Phoenix.
U.S. Africa Command
With the announcement that the US would create a unified command for much of Africa in 2007, the 7th PSYOP Battalion was assigned to provide support to the new command. The US Africa Command (AFRICOM), was formally established in 2008.
The new 7th POB was originally constituted on 3 December 2009 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 51st Psychological Operations Battalion. The unit was provisional, and was being stood up to provide support to AFRICOM, the only operational theater to which no operational battalion (6th and 8th POB had been covering this AOR) had been specifically assigned under the 4th Psychological Operations Group.
On 30 March 2011, the 51st PSYOP Battalion was re-designated as the 7th POB (provisionally) and two additional companies were created: Company A and Company B. The Battalion was officially activated 16 October 2011 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
On 4 August 2011, 7th PSYOP Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Lee Evans said in a speech to his troops:
The activation of a battalion was a special occasion which is a snapshot in time that is a constant reminder of the past while operating in the present and looking forward to the future. The mission of the 7th Battalion will be different from the 3rd MRBC, as it supports Special Forces missions in Africa, which includes more than 50 countries. Evans and his Soldiers will meet the challenges with audacious professionalism.
53 countries in Africa have vast and diverse ethnic and cultural differences that will demand that the 7th Battalion be adaptive and innovative in their approach to their new mission. The 7th Battalion has a mission to deploy to the African area of responsibility on short notice and plan, develop and conduct PSYOP in support of the unified commanders, coalition forces and other government agencies.
Sergeant First Class Marc Wayman, Military Occupational Specialty 37F; Psychological Operations Specialist, told me about his time in the 7th PSYOP Battalion.
I was assigned the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion (7th POB) on 17 May 2011. Originally, I was assigned to provide oversight, training, and support to the Battalion newly formed S-3 (Operations) Section. As the S-3 was still not fully functional, I was selected from by the 4th PSYOP Group to be assigned to the Battalion in order to train up the new 7th POB S-3. I was scheduled to deploy about July 2011 on an Individual Augmentee assignment to the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command Afghanistan (CFSOCC-A) to serve as a PSYOP Liaison Noncommissioned Officer in Charge.
Combat Action Badge
I was actually the first Soldier to earn a Combat Action Badge while a member of the Battalion, as well as the first Soldier from the Battalion to engage enemy forces in combat.
The Combat Action Badge was created by the Department of the Army in 2005 for recognition of Soldiers who participated in combat while in direct contact with the enemy or under direct/indirect fire from the enemy.
The Crew chief of our helicopter just as the first RPG exploded.
I had just started to take his picture when we heard the bang
I earned mine on 9 September 2011. There really isnt that much to tell. On that day, I was returning to Kabul with my Major from a completed mission in the Paktya province in Afghanistan. In addition to myself, and my Major, there was also an Infantry SGT (not part of our team), and three or four unarmed civilians (also not part of our team), plus the civilian crew. We took off without incident, and we were flying down the middle of a valley just south and west of the forward operating base. No more than five minutes into our flight I heard a loud explosion. The crew chief looked directly at me, and yelled RPG! RPG! I remember several thoughts running through my head: Were not armed , We are going to get blown out of the sky, and We need to conserve our ammo for if we survive the crash. My Major, who realized I was more experienced looked at me and said You got this? I replied Yes sir I told everyone: No firing out the windows were going to need the ammo if we go down! If that happens, first order of business is get any survivors out of the bird, second is get to the high ground! All this happened within seconds it seems. During this time, several more RPGs exploded, all within 100 feet of the aircraft. Additionally, the Taliban fighters were shooting at us with small arms and DSHKA heavy machine guns. They were shooting at us with everything they had, from both sides of the valley, and we were flying right down the middle of it.
Mark Wayman and the civilian helicopter he was on when attacked
We made it out of their effective range and about 20 minutes later, safely landed. We told an Air Force Major who managed the C-130 gunship missions what happened, and about an hour later, he asked me to come over to his desk. On his computer, was an infrared image of a group of Taliban, and a map overlay. He pointed to the valley wed been in, and then pointed out that the Taliban were on the north slope of the hill above the valley. He asked me if that was the valley wed been flying through, I said Yep, and he said Watch. He spoke into a radio headset, gave the order, and a few seconds later, 105 mm shells were raining down on that group. As far as I know, there were about 10 to 15 Taliban confirmed.
That was how I officially earned the CAB four days later, on the 13th, Kabul came under attack from another group of Taliban who had disguised themselves as women. Some of them suicide bombed a school of elementary kids, and others took over a building down the street from our compound. Over the course of the next 12 hours, both my Major and I engaged the enemy in the building down the street. I do not know if we were able to hit any of them as they had good cover, but by 6 PM, an Afghan Air Force Hind-D gunship flew over our position on the roof of our building in our compound and lit them up with the cannon they have on that bird. That was the end of the battle.
I returned from my deployment on 18 Nov 2011, and took over as the Battalion Safety Officer shortly after that.
U.S. military PSYOP specialists hurl leaflets from a plane into the Central
African bush; the leaflets urge rebels to return home and accept amnesty.
Michael M. Phillips The Wall Street Journal
In early or mid-2012, the Battalion began deploying detachments to Africa. Both A Company and B Company had detachments that were rotated through various deployments in Africa.
Messaging by family members lead to mass defections from Kony
Tony Lombardo wrote an article entitled Messaging leads to mass defections from Kony in the Army Times of 13 October 2014. He said in part (edited for brevity):
Soldiers with the 7th PSYOP Battalion have traveled to Uganda to breed resistance within Joseph Kony's ranks. His Lord's Resistance Army has been built through the abduction and indoctrination of thousands of children.
Staff Sergeant Myles McCadney, a member of 7th PSYOP, who deployed to Africa from December 2013 to May 2014, spoke to Association of the U.S. Army attendees and provided an inside and candid look at the challenges US troops face in fighting the elusive warlord.
McCadney outlined how U.S. troops, working together with African nations, have successfully launched an extensive media campaign and convinced a number of Kony's soldiers to defect. Troops use radio frequencies to encourage defections and gain support of the civilian populations. Aerial loudspeakers have been a key tool, and so has a mobile cinema display that tells the story of a child's abduction and his eventual decision to defect. When radio or aerial messaging is impossible, thousands of leaflets are dropped from above or nailed on trees on trails known to be populated by Kony's Army.
A surrender leaflet
In just the second half of 2014 alone, missions included: 14 leaflet drops; 515,000 leaflets; 20 messages via radio; and 19 aerial loudspeaker operations.
Since January 2012, there have been more than 240 confirmed defections of Kony's Army.
African troops are a big part of the mission, and McCadney said the U.S. mission is to advise, assist and accompany." The staff sergeant said he personally led efforts to develop a radio station that would be heard by Kony's Amy. The radio messages attempt to convince Kony's troops that they will be accepted with open arms if they choose to leave the warlord's Army. It's not an easy sell. Many of Kony's troops, due to their indoctrination, believe Kony has supernatural powers. McCadney compared their loyalty to Stockholm syndrome. Kony also threatens that anyone caught defecting will face torture and death.
PSYOP Public Relations
Staff Sgt. Myles McCadney, a member of 7th PSYOP Battalion (A), who deployed to Africa from December 2013 to May 2014, spoke to AUSA attendees during a Warrior's Corner session on 13 October 2014. McCadney provided an inside and candid look at the challenges US troops face in fighting the elusive warlord Kony in Uganda.
Training and War Games
All PSYOP units train constantly using different scenarios from various countries using different languages.
Briefing an Embassy Official
In July 2016, a regional PSYOP team briefs a role-player portraying a senior embassy official during their mission readiness exercise. The teams of psychological operators from 7th PSYOP Battalion will deploy to Africa and work in support of embassy operations across the continent. (Photo by Capt. Stephen Von Jett)
Conch Republic Flag
In February 2017, Captain Stephen Von Jett wrote an article entitled: The Crucible: PSYOP battalion forged for Africa. He said in part:
The 7th Military PSYOP Battalion, 4th PSYOP Group, is charged with equipping, training, and validating the teams that will go forth into the gray zones of Africa where alliances can be fluid and the people are as diverse as the many landscapes. Held in the last weeks of January in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Key West, Operation Warrior Anvil served to validate deploying teams through unparalleled training with joint, inter-agency, and civic partners in real-world urban environments that that reinforced PSYOP fundamentals, fostered teamwork, and strengthened character.
Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick McCarthy, commander of 7th PSYOP Battalion, describes Africa as an archipelago of complex societal islands. The challenge for his battalion is preparing their professionals to partner effectively in any one of those numerous societies that make up the continent. Missions vary from maritime interdiction to creating alternative options for youth in danger of radicalization, with a thousand nuanced shades between. With teams spread across the continent, working such disparate missions, it proved impossible to craft a validation exercise that mirrored exact mission sets. Rather than fighting the mission, leadership chose to have the teams fight the process.
A Tactical PSYOP Team (TPT) member transmits orders from a loudspeaker while conducting a pursuit mission aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Response Boat Medium, Feb. 2, 2017. The U.S. Coast Guard served as the Conch Republic Coast Guard during Operation Warrior Anvil, a validation exercise held in Key West, Florida. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Stephen Von Jett)
A litany of agencies committed personnel and resources to facilitate the exercise. Local law enforcement, U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and civic leaders portrayed Conch Republic government personnel. More than simple role players, whose character background for military exercises typically is seldom more than a few paragraphs deep, these partners were able to use the entire breadth and scope of their careers. They challenged the teams to provide legitimate analysis and actionable plans.
The Conch Republic is a fictional nation off the western coast of Africa. Beset by a bevy of societal problems from drug trafficking to domestic terrorism, the government of Conch had requested support from the U.S. Embassy to combat these ills.
Specialist 5 Gary L. Taylor, Columbus, Ohio, assigned to the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion, KIA, 12 June 1967, in Quang Tin Province, Vietnam, when the helicopter he was traveling in was hit by enemy fire causing it to crash.
First Lieutenant John A. Blanco Jr., Palatine, Illinois, assigned to the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion, KIA 17 December 1968, in Quang Tin Province, Vietnam when the C-123K Provider he was aboard crashed.
Specialist 5 William C. Gearing, Rochester, New York, assigned to the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion, KIA 19 May 1969, Quang Tin Province, Vietnam
Specialist 4 Jeremiah June, Birmingham, Alabama, assigned to the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion, KIA 19 May 1969, in Quang Tin Province, Vietnam
Specialist 4 James J. Pastore Jr., Stamford, Connecticut, assigned to the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion, KIA, 9 April 1970, in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam,
7th PSYOP Battalion Awards and Decorations
The Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for Vietnam 1967-1968
Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam 1967-1968
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for Vietnam 1971
Honor Medal, First Class for Vietnam 1967-1970
This ends our very short look at the history of the United States Armys 7th 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.