SGM Herb Friedman (Ret.)
The Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) was one of the main proponents of American propaganda during the Vietnam War. They produced thousands of leaflets and posters that were printed and disseminated over the enemy in the millions. I usually place these posters in my regular articles along with leaflets on the same general themes, but the posters are big and bulky and I thought perhaps I should also give them their own article. Many of the posters I depict here were printed by the 7th PSYOP Group on Okinawa. They had the manpower and printing presses to support the various PSYOP units in Vietnam during the war.
The United States Archives mentions Vietnam War propaganda posters and says in part:
We list 438 posters produced by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) for use in psychological warfare activities supporting the Government of South Vietnam (GVN) during the Vietnam War. The poster themes and designs reflect the fierce competition between the two Vietnams, North and South, to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese public. Posters are grouped under ten main themes reflecting JUSPAO propaganda priorities.
The theme with the largest poster concentration is "Support Social and Economic Accomplishments," comprising one third of the total item count. This category highlights the activities of the government's Revolutionary Development program to work alongside rural Vietnamese in building houses, medical centers, roads, wells, bridges, schools, markets, and in making other infrastructure improvements. Many of the rural communities featured were the New Life Hamlets.
Another well-represented theme is Encourage the Goals of the Chieu Hoi Program, referring to the South Vietnamese government program designed to encourage and facilitate the defection of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers back to the Southern cause.
The Explain American Presence in Vietnam grouping illustrates the activities of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam, with the purpose of assuring the rural people of the South of the friendly intentions of the United States. Several posters in this category feature South Korean forces engaged in similar activities. A small number also feature the activities in Vietnam of other allied forces from Thailand, New Zealand, the Philippines and Australia.
Another large category, Exploit All Military Victories, publicizes military victories won by Popular Forces, Regional Forces and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces against the Viet Cong.
The Exploit Viet Cong Vulnerabilities highlights the depredations and atrocities committed by the Viet Cong in the South. Pictures show dead and wounded atrocity victims, funerals of victims, captured Viet Cong perpetrators, buildings damaged and destroyed in Viet Cong attacks, the hardships imposed on the people by Viet Cong actions, and anti-Viet Cong protest rallies. A few posters also relate the story of the Viet Cong defector, Nguyen Van Be, shown holding North Vietnamese newspapers that erroneously announce his sacrifice of his life for the sake of the Northern cause.
The smaller-volume categories feature messages on public health issues, Vietnamese armed forces recruitment, and a broad miscellany of subjects that include the U.S. Apollo 11 lunar mission, Vietnamese public security, and the inauguration ceremony for South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu.
The extent of the Allied propaganda effort in Vietnam is told by James William Gibson in The Perfect War- Technowar in Vietnam, The Atlantic Monthly Press, NY, 1986:
From 1965 through 1972 over fifty billion leaflets were distributed in South and North Vietnam and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia; this vast sum was the equivalent of more than 1,500 leaflets per person in both the north and the south. In 1969 the military and civilian propaganda apparatuses produced over 10.5 billion leaflets, 4 million pamphlets,60,000 newspaper articles, over 24.5 million posters, and nearly 12 million magazines.
There is also a record of a PSYWAR Bureau. A mention of this organization is found in Monthly Historical Summary, April 1966 (Declassified) Appendix II, from the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces Vietnam. There is a long list of operations that were Civic Action or PSYOP. We cant tell in most cases which were Vietnamese and which was American, but in some specific instances the Vietnamese are identified:
The PSYWAR Bureau issued 22,900 magazines, 52,400 posters, and 91,500 leaflets to Vietnamese and U.S. units for further distribution. In a special project in conjunction with JUSPAO, the Vietnamese PSYWAR Bureau produced 10,000 special posters depicting the new Rung Sat Special Zone and Long Tau River security regulations. These were distributed to the Rung Sat Special Zone and the four surrounding provinces for posting.
This is a very early poster. We see the code bears a SP which means it was a Special Project developed by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office. Later they would remove the SP from their code because the Vietnamese would recognize it as an American product. It was preferred that the people believed their own government was printing these products. The 995 shows us that the poster was printed about 1996. The Red Cross is prominently displayed and an American medic is treating Vietnamese civilians. The text is:
When Sick, Come to the Dispensaries and You Will Receive Proper Medical Care
This JUSPAO poster warns the people about the dangers of tuberculosis and actually depicts the germs and human lungs. The text is:
HOW IT IS TRANSMITTED
Caused by bacteria that destroys the lungs
Coughing Sneezing Spitting
Do not share objects with the infected
Another JUSPAO poster meant to help the people of Vietnam. This one shows sick and deceased Vietnamese all infected with cholera. The images are quite striking and pull no punches. The text is:
Cholera is very dangerous and highly contagious.
Patients might die within a couple of hours.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Pain in the abdomen and frequent urinating up to 15 or 30 times daily.
Excessive vomiting, thirst, rapid weight loss and a weak pulse.
This is an early war poster from the files of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office. This would appear to have an Image of the Government of Vietnam theme, where we told the people of the victories of the Vietnamese Army in order to build up their loyalty and confidence. The images on the front show the ARVN in action, captured weapons, and Viet Cong who had gone "Chieu Hoi" during the operations and returned to the government side. The text is:
BRILLIANT VICTORIES INAUGURATING THE YEAR OF THE FIRE HORSE
Beginning the Second Month of the lunar calendar, the ARVN and U.S. forces have destroyed:
In Quang Ngai, during Operation Junction 26, 634 Viet Cong killed on the spot.
In Binh Dinh, during Operation Than Phong 11, 1484 VC killed in combat.
Our forces have captured countless weapons and important documents.
Each ARVN soldier, effectively supported by a wide array of modern weapons, is more motivated to pursue and kill the enemy.
These are a small part of the various Viet Cong weapons and ammunition captured by our forces.
These men, during the operation, returned to the good cause of the country in order to escape the Viet Cong yoke. They constitute only a small number of the hundreds who have returned to rebuild their life. They are attending a joyful meal at the Chieu Hoi Return Center.
Many of the posters were not quite as big as normal and had a very short message that was easily read. These seem to be mostly attempts at showing the goodness of American soldiers and showing them in the best light possible. In this JUSPAO poster an American soldier gives a Vietnamese child a drink. The text is:
Friendship is a Precious Thing
JUSPAO prepared a number of posters showing Nguyen Van Be. 1774, developed February 1967, and measures 17 x 22 inches in size. 50,000 copies of this poster were printed. There are three photographs on the poster. One shows Be holding a newspaper featuring his picture (the same photo used on several leaflets), another shows Be in profile and the third shows a statue of Be. The text is:
HOW COULD SUCH A STRANGE THING HAPPEN?
THE LATE "HERO" NGUYEN VAN BE READS ABOUT HIS OWN DEATH.
For many months, the communist newspapers in both North and South Vietnam have been telling everyone the fantastic story about the supreme sacrifice of the hero Nguyen Van Be. Communist youth throughout Vietnam have been urged to emulate him. According to the communist story Be was captured on 30 May 1966 after fighting like a tiger to defend the arms and ammunition he was helping to transport along a canal near My An. Supposedly he was later forced to explain how a new mine worked, and seizing the opportunity he exploded it with his own hands against an armored vehicle. The communists claimed that be gladly gave his life for the cause and killed 69 Americans and ARVN troops. A heroic act indeed!
This photograph of a statue built in honor of the late hero was published on the front page of the Hanoi newspaper Van Nghe on 6 January 1967. It is supposed to show Be at the moment he sacrificed his life.
But, read what Mr. Be has to say: We were convoying ammunition along a canal in the My An district. When I heard the Government of Vietnam shots, I plunged into the canal. I was captured after I jumped into the water. I never did any of the things they say I did. Why would the Front say such things? Look at this: Here is the dead hero alive and well. He is reading about his own death in the important Hanoi newspaper Tien Phong that carried the fantastic story on the front of the 7 December 1966 issue. Similar stories were broadcast over Radio Hanoi and Liberation Radio, and many poems and songs were written about the late hero Nguyen Van Be.
Poster 2077 was 17 x 22-inches in size and prepared in July of 1967. It was part of the JUSPAO theme 2 Chieu Hoi. The poster was entitled Dai Doan Ket, National Assembly Building. It depicted a building on top of a number of blocks, each of which was labeled. The Dai Doan Ket campaign targeted high ranking Viet Cong and offered them more money, training, and better jobs trying to get the leadership to defect to the Government of Vietnam.
National Heritage Democratic Harmony
National Community National Concord National Progress
Doan Ket to Build the Country
This small 7 x 10-inch poster was developed in July of 1967 for the school children of the Republic of Vietnam. 2,000,000 copies were printed in Manila, 500,000 of which were placed in patriotic school kits. It was also printed as a patriotic song sheet coded 1971 with the flag on front and back and the Vietnamese National Anthem inside.
This 17 x 22-inch poster was developed in October 1967 to explain the American presence. It says in part:
WHAT DO THE AMERICANS WANT HERE?
DO THE AMERICANS WANT OUR RICE AND LAND?
America is rich and powerful, and every year grows more food than her people can eat. She has surplus rice and other grain which she gives to other countries around the world, including Vietnam. She has no need for our land or food.
DO THE AMERICANS WANT OUR MARKETS FOR THEIR GOODS?
The billions of dollars that America has spent to support our fight against Communism and to provide things that the people of Vietnam need ? schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and the like ? could not be repaid from Vietnams ecoonomy for many decades?
DO THE AMERICANS WANT MILITARY BASES IN VIETNAM?
America has many times solemnly reiterated its pledge to remove its troops from the bases they occupy in Vietnam as soon as our peace and freedom are assured. America has plenty of bases throughout the Pacific, from Hawaii to the Philippines, to assure its own security. America does not want or need bases on Vietnams land.
THEN WHAT DO THEY WANT HERE?
Americas help to Vietnam, like that of 30 other free nations comes at the request of the Vietnamese government. They have asked for help to defend their country against Communist aggression .
Leaflet 2738 mentions American military aid:
The United States Secretary of Defense stated We intend to give preference to the ARVN forces, all ARVN forces, even at the expense of our own forces. We will issue every ARVN an M-16 rifle just as soon as we can.
Australian Private Ian Botham of their 1st PSYOP Unit prints a poster to be distributed in the area north of Nui Dat. The poster urged people to stay indoors at night, and warned children about the dangers of handling old ammunition they may find.
Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
Many of the posters prepared by JUSPAO for the South Vietnamese school children encouraged patriotism and love of country. This very colorful poster is a map of the Republic of Vietnam showing all the provinces, the province capital, and the products found in that province. The poster was printed in May of 1988 in the size of 10 x 14 inches as 2514A, and also as 17 x 22 inches code numbered 2514. 500,000 of the small type and 100,000 of the large type were printed. The poster was developed in August 1968 to help build a sense of national pride and national unity rather than regional unity.
The United States constantly tried to improve the health of their Vietnam allies. The 7th PSYOP Group was responsible for the printing and the posters were distributed by Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS). In this April 1968 poster they introduce the Vietnamese to bodybuilding foods. The foods are identified (in no particular order) as:
Pig, Cow, Shrimp, Eggs, Oyster, Milk, Cheese, Beans, Soy beans, Crab, Chicken, Fish, Melon seed and Duck
Try to east some of these foods each day to build a good body
This April 1968 poster was requested and distributed by CORDS and printed by the 7th PSYOP Group. It has a nation building theme and tells the people about what the Government of the Republic of Vietnam is doing for them in the way of health education. The text is:
Looking through some old folders I found three more very colorful leaflets in support of the South Vietnamese Regional Forces (Ruff Puffs). This one was created in May 1968 and depicts the Vietnamese peacefully working in a New Life Hamlet under the flag of the Republic of Vietnam. The text is:
ONE OF THE OBJECTIVES OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLETS
The road system is being repaired and improved to be suitable for the activities of the compatriots.
This May 1968 poster has the theme of eradicating illiteracy. It depicts a group of Vietnamese adults in a New Life Hamlet classroom being taught the alphabet. The text is:
ONE OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLETS IS
Eradication of illiteracy in order to bring progress and knowledge to the people
This poster was developed in April 1968 in support of the New Life Hamlet with the theme of the development of farming. We see a woman by a water pump, a man irrigating a rice crop, a farmer tilling, and what is most interesting is a man with a pump filled with an unknown spray. Americans would probably assume it was some kind of insecticide, but it might have been used to support the American spraying of defoliants which were always said to be harmless. It might have a PSYOP value in the poster to assure the Vietnamese that the defoliants were safe and helpful to their way of life. The text is:
ONE OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLET
The development of farming aims at providing people with the necessary means so their income and standard of living shall be raised.
This poster was developed in May 1968 in support of the New Life Hamlet with the theme of land reform. It depicts people being paid for their crops at the left, and farmer with a water buffalo at the left and center. The text is:
ONE OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLET IS TO INITIATE LAND REFORM AIMING TOWARD:
Improvement of tenant farmers conditions
Logical distribution of lands and fields to accomplish:
FARMERS HAVE MORE LAND TO TILL.
This May 1968 poster has the theme of eradicating tyrannical and corrupt officials. It depicts a corrupt official demanding a bribe from a citizen who then informs on him to an agent of the government. The text is:
ONE OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLETS IS
ERADICATING TYRANNICAL AND CORRUPT OFFICIALS
Courageously unmask all corrupt elements in the government to clean up the village/hamlet administration system.
This poster was developed in May 1968 with the object of combating disease. It was distributed by the Vietnamese Information Service and American MEDCAP teams. It depicted various scenes of sanitary habits in the New Life Hamlets: burying waste products; giving children inoculations against disease; and not using some local shaman prescribing roots and herbs. The text is:
ONE OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLETS IS TO COMBAT DISEASE
To provide guidance in the maintenance of public and family sanitation
To provide facilities to help prevent and cure diseases
To counter superstitious treatment of patients
This is another poster that features Vietnamese in a New Life Hamlet. This one shows numerous member of their civilian guard force protecting the hamlet. At the right a citizen bangs on an alarm which brings out the Vietnamese like Minute-men to protect their homes. The text is:
ONE OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLETS IS TO ORGANIZE THE PEOPLE TO ENGAGE IN THE ANTI-COMMUNIST STRUGGLE
Motive the people to organize combat hamlets to maintain security so that people can build and enjoy their new bright life.
Author holding Poster 2905
This poster came directly from the files of the Joint US Public Affairs Office. The image is very popular and I have seen it on many leaflets, postcards, handouts and posters in the Vietnamese, Cambodian and Lao language. It was developed for the 1969 Tet campaign. It targeted the Viet Cong, their relatives and the North Vietnamese. It was printed in the Regional Service Center, Manila. The text is:
HAPPY NEW YEAR LONGING FOR PEACE
This poster has an image that is seen on dozens of leaflets. The image is always a bit different but a Vietnamese farmer or child spots some Viet Cong, or a rocket, or a mine, and goes to tell the authorities and receives a reward. This June 1968 posters object is to impress on the general population the importance of identifying the Communist Infrastructure which is a fancy way of saying Informing. The poster is named Eradicate Underground Communists. The image depicts a young boy watching a Viet Cong take a basket of food from a farmer. The text is:
ONE OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW LIFE HAMLETS IS TO ERADICATE UNDERGROUND COMMUNISTS
A factor that brings about victory over the Communists is to separate them from the people through tracking down the Communist grass-roots structure until their complete destruction.
Numerous American leaflets taught the Vietnamese the proper way to deal with garbage. Poster 2682 and 2682A are entitled Dont put garbage here and there. Poster 2682 is in Vietnamese, 2682A is in the native Koho language. They both depict various scenes of garbage elimination. Because this poster had to be brought to the native tribes, it is recommended that it be distributed by the Vietnamese Information Service, the various civilian defense groups, and the Armed propaganda Teams who go into the countryside with songs and dance. The text is:
DONT PUT THE GARBAGE HERE AND THERE
In order to get rid of flies and mice and avoid sickness
We should bury the garbage - Put it in the container - Or burn it.
This poster depicts the return of a former Viet Cong who has accepted the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) amnesty offer, and other pictures imply that his family has also returned or at least rejoined him. The Chieu Hoi symbol is at the bottom of the poster. The text is:
MORE THAN 140 VIET CONG CHOSE TO LIVE
Embracing freedom, these returnee brothers were warmly greeted and conscientiously assisted by the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. Now they are highly confident in the return policy and being processed for interim settlement at the returnee center.
Mr. Tran Huy Nho, a Viet Cong platoon leader, has returned.
This 12 year old little boy has returned and now is joyfully talking with a woman.
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968 and features U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The text is:
WE WILL NOT FAIL
WE WILL NOT TIRE
WE WILL NOT RETREAT
On 7 April 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson solemnly promised to help the people of the Republic of Vietnam to the end. The Government of the Unite States will always respect this promise to the people of South Vietnam.
I absolutely believe...that the first requirement for the other side to change its attitude is to do something to show that our position is strong and firm and that we are determined that we will not abandon our promises regarding the independence and the national right to self-determination of the South Vietnamese people.
24 October 1964 - U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson
Statement at the Manila Summit
If the negotiating effort is unable to restore peace, peace will come when Hanoi understands that our resolve will not be altered and that our power is unmatched.
President Johnson's statement
To the American people - 31 March 1968
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968 in color and features President Johnson and President Thieu. The text is:
THE UNITED STATES AND THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM RESOLUTELY OPPOSE COMMUNIST AGGRESSION
At the request of President Nguyen Van Thieu, a meeting between the Presidents of the United States and Vietnam was held in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 19 and 20 July 1968. During this meeting the leaders of the two nations discussed important military and political developments in South Vietnam related to the Paris Conference.
The two Presidents also affirmed their resolute opposition to any aggression against South Vietnam. In joint policy statements the President of the Republic of Vietnam emphasized the determination of the Government and people of South Vietnam to defend his nation and the American President promised that the U.S. would continue to help the Republic of Vietnam defend its territory.
There were a series of three posters that used the term Dai Doan Ket, which actually was a campaign to get high-ranking Viet Cong to defect through the Chieu Hoi Program. However, these posters have text involved more in the self-defense than in Viet Cong coming over to the Government of Vietnam. There were two major civilian self-defense groups, the RF and PF. Regional Forces and Popular Forces, or Rough Puffs and PF's as they were often called, fought a major share of the War in Vietnam at the rice-roots level. Comprising about 50 percent of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, they operated in all the provinces by the end of the war. The men in these first three posters seem to be just local militia; males older than 16 that were expected to join this force and stand guard in their local hamlets, patrolling the area. Leaflet 2838 is in blue and depicts a ceremony with the men in civilian clothes and a second one with the men in uniform being congratulated by some civilian official. The text is:
THE PEOPLE UNITED IN THE DEFENSE OF THE HOMELAND
The goal of the "Civilian Self-Defense" program is to mobilize the populace to actively participate in combat.
The people shall defend the rear, produce and support the front.
THE WHOLE POPULATION SHOULD UNITE IN WILL TO DEFEND OUR
JUST CAUSE IN THE POLITICAL STRUGGLE WITH THE ENEMY
This official military photograph dated 8 October 1969 depicts a member of an Armed Propaganda Team placing JUSPAO propaganda poster 2680, Where is the Truth, to a hut in a small hamlet near Phan Thiet in southern II Corps. The faces on the poster are all former high-ranking VC officers who returned to the government under Chieu Hoi.
Sometimes defectors or informers who received a large reward for their information appeared on JUSPAO posters. This 17 x 22-inch October 1968 poster depicts three photographs and text that says in part:
CAPTURED VC WEAPONS WORTH ONE MILLION PIASTERS REWARD TO
Two former Viet Cong recently reported the location of a Communist weapons factory to the Government of Vietnam and were rewarded 1,000,000 piasters by the officials of Bac Lieu Province on 19 August 1968. The factory was about 200 kilometers southwest of Saigon. It contained more than 200 weapons, including a 70 mm cannon, a 105 mm mortar, and five anti-aircraft machine guns, I addition to more than 10 tons of ammunition and explosives which were destroyed by the local Government defense forces.
Nguyen Van Ben, former VC Director of the weapons factory, and Nguyen Van Truong, former VC artillery commander, received the reward after disclosing the hidden Communist installation to the Government. Both men became disillusioned with the VC because it failed to achieve promised victories and did not provide them with food and clothing.
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968 in full color, the size 21 x 33-inches. There are six photographs of civilian and paramilitary forces. The text is:
PEOPLE DEFEND THE NATION
People take charge of defending the rear.
This is a self-defense unit at Tan Tru District, Long An Province.
Mr. Huynh Van Dao, of the Prime Ministers Office, congratulates a self-defense unit at Tan Tru that fought to protect the lives and property of the people.
Women participate in medical aid work.
The purpose of the People's Self-Defense force is to mobilize all the people to destroy the Communist enemy.
This JUSPAO poster was printed in September 1968. This poster has three larger photographs. The theme is The Government of Vietnam Image. 50,000 copies were prepared for dissemination all over the country to the civilian population. The text is:
THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM HELPS THE PEOPLE IN RECONSTRUCTION
During the Tet attack in Hoc Mon the Viet Cong destroyed this bridge. Government soldiers repaired the bridge.
Besides destroying the enemy on the battlefield, Government soldiers maintain roads for the people.
>Reconstruction of Viet Cong damage helps people to resume their normal lives so that they can enjoy peace and prosperity.
HELP THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM TO DEFEAT THE VIET CONG
JOIN YOUR LOCAL SELF-DEFENSE FORCE
REPORT VIET CONG MOVEMENT TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
This poster was printed in green and similar to the one above, certainly from the same program. It is coded 2857 and depicts armed marching men at the top and what appears to be a patrol through a village below. The text is:
THE PEOPLE UNITED IN THE DEFENSE OF THE HOMELAND
The goal of the "Civilian Self-Defense" is to rationalize the mobilization policy, to optimize national resources everywhere so the war is not be impeded by production stagnation and so that the rear can actively participate in supporting the front.
It is necessary for all male and female citizens, seniors and youth to voluntarily participate in the "Civilian Self Defense" program. This duty is not limited by time.
THE WHOLE POPULATION SHOULD UNITE IN WILL TO DEFEND OUR
JUST CAUSE IN THE POLITICAL STRUGGLE WITH THE ENEMY
This poster is in a bright red and coded 2859. It depicts an armed group standing at attention and below they seem to be looking at a home that has been destroyed, perhaps by the Viet Cong. The text is:
THE PEOPLE UNITED IN THE DEFENSE OF THE HOMELAND
The goal of the "Civilian Self-Defense" program is to support all aspects of a difficult and protracted war which would allow self-sufficiency, self-governance and self-determination of our own destiny.
The people organize themselves; the authority provides guidance and support.
EACH CITIZEN SHOULD VOLUNTARILY JOIN AT LEAST ONE POPULAR
This poster is in blue and features a Vietnamese family that has been injured in a Viet Cong rocket attack. The father cares for the wife and a son looks at the camera in tears. It is a very tragic image. The same poster was also made in the Chinese-language coded 2860A. The text is:
IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL HAD SUCH SCENES BEEN PREVENTED!
Had someone in possession of knowledge about the Viet Cong unit which launched their rockets on August 22, 1968 informed the Police, these children would not have been injured.
The obligation of each citizen, upon acquiring any information on the location or weapon caches of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Communists, is to inform the authorities.
Anyone who provides information on the presence of Communists, as well as on their rocket launch sites, shall be awarded from 50 thousand to one million dong. The names of the informants shall remain confidential.
Do inform any Police office or call the phone number 17 (Police emergency number).
Inform any military organization.
YOU ARE A CITIZEN OF THE FREE SOUTH. YOU CAN HELP
STOP THIS ABSURD AND VIOLENT LOSS OF LIFE AND PROPERTY.
This large leaflet (22 x 17 inches) pink-purple poster has six photographs on the front, all of which show injured Vietnamese that have been hurt in a Viet Cong attack. Some show older people; most show children. The text is:
ARE THEY THE ENEMY OF THE VIET CONG?
At dawn on 22 August 1968, the Viet Cong, lackeys of the Northern Communists launched rockets and fired mortar rounds at the City of Saigon-Cho Lon. No military target was hit. Instead only innocent women and children were killed in their sleep.
Doctors, nurses, clerks and many other volunteers swiftly commenced the rescue of injured victims and the burial of the unfortunate dead. The funeral services for the victims were no less difficult as they were women and children.
HOW DOES THE VIET CONG, LACKEYS OF THE NORTHERN COMMUNISTS, EXPLAIN THIS CRUEL ACTION?
Poster 2853 is full-colored and large at 21 x 33-inches. It has six photographs of daily life in Vietnam; hamlets, houses, bridges and oxen. The text is:
THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM GOVERNMENT ASSISTS THE PEOPLE IN
The recent Viet Cong attacks in the Hoc Mon County in Gia Dinh province. Many schools, houses and people's properties were destroyed or damaged.
The government helped reconstruct the Administration office of the Trung My Tay ward in Hoc Mon County.
The Government also helped the people rebuild an orphanage in the Tan Thoi Hiep ward in Hoc Mon County, Gia Dinh province.
Many houses, schools, and orphanages were rebuilt with assistance by the Government.
This bridge was destroyed by the Viet Cong. The Army of Vietnam has repaired it and is protecting it.
Thanks to the efforts by the Government, the people's life was restored to normal and their movement facilitated.
LET'S COOPERATE WITH THE GOVERNMENT IN ELIMINATING THE ENEMY
JOIN THE PEOPLE'S SELF-DEFENSE FORCE
IMMEDIATELY INFORM THE AUTHORITIES ABOUT ANY PRESENCE OF THE
This October 1989 poster had the theme of The Government of Vietnam Image. The images show the people that the Government cares for them and is seeking to make their life better. And, it is not only the local farmers; the Montagnard people are also honored. The text on the poster is long so I will only translate some of it:
NINH THUAN AND THE REVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
FOR THE MATAGNARDS
At a ceremony, this farmer, one among 40 poor farmers, happily receives a land ownership certificate from a representative of the Ninh Thuan Province Chief.
Farming tools such as hoes and shovels are distributed to the Farmers.
As a part of the local Revolutionary Development Program, these Scouts are clearing and preparing land for the Montagnards.
This $600,000 dong tractor was presented to the farmers of Ba Rau Hamlet on 28 August 1968.
This October 1968 poster uses the theme, The Communist pirates destroy, the Government of Vietnam builds. 1,000 copies of the poster were printed for use in Ninh Thuan Province. Some of the text is:
THE COMMUNIST PIRATES DESTROY
My An Hamlet office was destroyed by the Viet Cong and is now a ruin.
The house of a civilian resident in Le Loi Street, Phan Rang, that was partially blown up by a Viet Cong mine.
THE GOVERNMENT OF VIETNAM BUILDS
One of the Dispensary/Maternity building constructed by Nihn Thuan authorities in hamlets to take care of the people in rural area when sickness occurs and to take care of expectant mothers....
This 7th PSYOP Group poster dated May 1968 features the Peoples Self-Defense Movement in Phu Yen. The theme is the Government of Vietnam image. It targets the relatives of the Viet Cong and their sympathizers. The Vietnamese took the pictures and wrote the text; JUSPAO did the layout and the 7th PSYOP Group did the printing. 3,000 copies of this poster were printed. The pictures show the Self-Defense forces training and at ceremonies. The text is:
THE PEOPLES SELF-DEFENSE MOVEMENT IN PHU YEN
The Major General, the II Combat Tactical Zone Commander talks to all classes of people.
The Major General, the II Combat Tactical Zone Commander awards the Civilian Service Medal to a hero of the Peoples Self Defense.
The Major General, the II Combat Tactical Zone Commander presents good conduct medals to four heroes of the Peoples Self Defense.
Colonel Nguyen Van Ba reports on the progress of the of the Peoples Self Defense units in Phu Yen Province.
A Peoples Self Defense Unit from Hieu Xong District.
A demonstration of a the training of the of the Peoples Self Defense.
This January 1969 poster is entitled Elections build Democracy. JUSPAO prepared this poster at the request of the Vietnam Ministry of Information. 100,000 copies were printed. The image depicts a woman holding a child while voting. The text is:
VOTE TO BUILD DEMOCRACY
All go to cast the Ballots, Follow the right procedure, Elect the right person.
This March 1969 poster tells of the failure of the 1969 Viet Cong spring offensive. JUSPAO printed 50,000 copies to advertise the success of ARVN troops. The image depicts scenes of dead Viet Cong and captured weapons. The text is:
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE COMMUNIST NORTH VIETNAMESE ARMY AND
VIET CONG SPRING OFFENSIVE THAT FAILED
The latest Communist offensive which, as usual, included indiscriminate attacks on civilians in hamlets, villages and cities, resulted in their usual defeat.
Communist North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong attacks on Tan Hiep hamlet in Bien Hoa Province on 26 February 1969 destroyed all the buildings, scattered the inhabitants and called down on the Communists the counter-fire of ARVN batteries. The ARVN killed 320 of the Communist North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong and captured the remaining 75 who surrendered on the battlefield.
The American Trung Sisters Propaganda Poster
Because the Trung sisters were national heroes in Vietnam, they were often placed on PSYOP leaflets and posters. The Trung Sisters led the first resistance movement against the occupying Chinese after 247 years of domination. Many temples are dedicated to them and their death is commemorated each year. A Fifteenth Century poem says about the sisters:
All the male heroes bowed their heads in submission; only the two sisters proudly stood up to avenge the country
The text on the poster is:
Oppose the Communists' aggression in defense of our liberties as descendants of the Hong Lac race.
Do as the two Trung sisters of the Trieu family did.
Note: The sisters renamed their country Hong Lac during their reign.
Poster 8 848 (3)
We know from the code number that this poster was prepared by the Vietnamese. Usually at the left we will see the American code that was placed on the poster at the same time. The poster features President Nguyen Van Thieu. After their first President, Ngo Dinh Diem, was murdered by his generals, there were a number of presidents, none very effective and the eventual result was the loss of the country to the Communists. President Thieu and the other Presidents tried hard to win the loyalty of the people, but it seems that none of them succeeded. The text is:
FROM THE MOMENT I TOOK MY PRESIDENTIAL OATH, I AM YOUR MAN
I solemnly swear to:
Defend the Motherland
Respect the Constitution
Serve the interests of the Country and the People
I need the help of you all
I NEED THE HELP OF YOU ALL
This is my favorite Viet Nam War poster ever. It was printed by the American 7th PSYOP Group for use in Cambodia. This large 15.5 x 19.5-inch poster coded 13-2-6 depicts the Lord Buddha destroying the Communist Khmer Rouge who are depicted as demons. The enemy is shown with AK-47 rifles, rocket propelled grenades and tanks at the left. On the right they are sinking into the sea; the tanks main gun is bent and broken and their leader is pleading for mercy. Crocodiles and sawfish attack them. Buddha is a God of mercy and moderation so his depiction in this poster is very strange. From a standpoint of color and artistic imagination it would be hard to find a more impressive propaganda poster. Directly beneath the Buddha is the Buddhist Earth Deity, who wrings out her hair, sending a stream of strong water at the drowning Communists. She is known in Cambodia as Neang Kanghing Preah Thoranee. She has other names in Arakan, Burma, Thailand, and Laos, but the names all mean Lady Earth or Mother Earth, She is the Buddha's witness at the time of the enlightenment. According to the mythology of Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha's spiritual authority derives from the Earth Deity.
Pro-Government Army Poster 12-2-19
We show a poster for Cambodia above. Here is one for Laos. Perhaps the most impressive Lao poster in my possession is this 1971 large 21 x 29-inch full-color product printed by the 7th PSYOP Group. A Laotian soldier is seen in the forefront holding his flag while behind him massed Lao civilian wave their flags. It is a very patriotic scene. The text is:
21st Celebration of the Formation of the Army 23 March 1971
The nation exists because soldiers and people are together resolved to fight the enemy.
Army Day expresses the commitment of our brave troops to defend our sovereignty.
The nation endures as the sky and the land because the soldiers and people are strongly entwined together in the struggle.
Nation, honor, discipline, courage, unity, fortitude and sacrifice.
The National Liberation Front Posters
Say no to this war!
The Viet Cong sometimes placed large posters where they could be seen by American servicemen. The Viet Cong did not have aircraft and were unable to drop leaflets on Americans so their best means of disseminating propaganda was the face-to-face message, leaflets left along trails and posters wherever they could be hung. The poster above was found in February 1968 by United States Marines Lance-Corporal John Fedyszn, a forward-observer radioman from C Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, of the 3rd Marine Division. He was on a search and destroy patrol during Operation Dye Marker. The poster was found along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between combat base Alpha 3 and the combat base at Con Thien. This was a free-fire zone where anyone seen in the bush was presumed to be either Viet Cong or North Vietnamese regulars. The full-color poster depicts an American soldier throwing away his M-14 rifle. Text at the left is:
Say no to this war! Go home now alive!
The Entire People
This 10 x 13-inch poster depicts the Vietnamese people throwing out the Americans and President Diem. Some of the fleeing people are President Diem who holds a bag of dollars and is carrying American president Lyndon Johnson on his back. Johnson wears a backpack loaded with bombs. General Maxwell Taylor is also fleeing toward a ship labelled Seventh Fleet. Some of the text on the poster is:
The entire people are determined to smash the plot to invade the south of Vietnam by the American Imperialists and their fellow invaders of the Southeast Asian bloc.
Some of the banners held by the people say:
Ngo Dinh Diem beat it
American imperialism go away
Down with the American Imperialists and the invaders Southeast Asia bloc
The Guns are American
I often tell people that the Viet Cong had very little opportunity to use fine paper, a real printing press, or art and color in their propaganda made in the field. The next two items are from the files of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office. They are on plain paper and handwritten, and appear to be written by the same person. The first was filed with the number VCS 534 and filed in December 1965. The text is:
The guns are American but the soul is yours; it's your father, your mother, it's your relatives by blood, do you still want to kill them? Are the pennies you earn each month worth selling your body on the battlefield as targets?
Workers, Peasants and Soldiers
The second poster is coded 535 and also found in December 1965 so I assume they were captured in the same operation. The text on this one is:
Workers, peasants and soldiers united in resisting the American terror. Soldiers, brothers, don't arrest your compatriots. What's their crime? In combat, if you shoot, an innocent will be unjustly killed!
Results of the First 10 Days
This is another Viet Cong poster from the JUSPAO files. It was filed with the code VCS 556. At the left there are various patriotic scenes showing Viet Cong fighters and a surrendering American soldier and at the right, all text. The translator wrote the English version of the message right on the leaflet and it is rather cluttered. Some of the more pertinent statements are:
RESULTS OF THE FIRST 10 DAYS FROM NOVEMBER 1963 OBTAINED BY THE PEOPLE AND ARMY IN KIEN TUONG
Then there are a series of 13 Viet Cong attacks and victories. I quote several:
Completely destroyed 2 forts.
Eliminated 141 enemies to include 1 Captain, 2 1st Lieutenants, 1 2nd Lieutenant, and 1 NCO.
Completely liberated 1 village.
Destroyed 100 meters of road on Highway 12.
The poster ends:
BE READY TO JOIN THE PATRIOTIC BATTLE AGAINST THE AMERICANS
Kien Tuong Information Office 4000 copies Published by Don Thap 20 November 1963
We Liberation Army soldiers
This poster is on a cheap wrapping paper, crudely hand-written, and at the top a stick has been placed through the paper and a string which allows it to be hung from a nail or a branch. His was found in Long Xuyen, An Giang province, on 13 November 1963. When handed over to Intelligence it was archived as VCS 476. It is hard to translate but seems to say:
We Liberation Army soldiers earnestly appeal to all Combat Youth, ward chiefs, hamlet chiefs, ward and strategic hamlet personnel, officers of the Surete, policemen, government personnel, and officers and soldiers of the US puppet government in Long Xuyen City to quickly return to the arms of the people and to never again work for the enemy.
In the future, if you work as an enemy lackey, arresting people, forcibly drafting youths into the army, and stealing money from the people, we will absolutely not be able to guarantee the safety of your lives and property.
Because this was such an early leaflet we see terms like Combat Youth and Surete, organizations that would have existed during the reign of Ngo Dinh Diem.
A Vietnam vet told me he had seen similar posters hanging from trees:
Warning notes to enemy comrades were found by soldiers of the 2/7th Cavalry hanging on branches along enemy trails in War Zone D in 1970-71. They were warning others that Americans were in the area.
This is just a very short look at American and National Liberation Front posters used in Vietnam in my collection.
Readers who have similar posters they would like added to this article or who care to comment are encouraged to write to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org