SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
This Leaflet Lists Radio Frequencies and Broadcast Times
One NLF leaflet actually mentioned radio stations. This is a common theme used in U.S. leaflets. The enemy leaflet depicts an anti-war demonstration on the front with marchers carrying a banner:
End the war in Vietnam and social crisis at home.
Some of the text is:
To know the truth about this war you hate to fight: Listen to Liberation Radio, the voice of the S.V. National Front for the Liberation special English transmission for GIs in S.V.
Every Saturday from 2100 to 2115 hours (Saigon time.
Every Sunday from 09800 to 0830 hours (Saigon time)
Meter bands: 25, 30, 50, and 40.50.
There is a second paragraph mentioning the hours and location of the Voice of Vietnam broadcasting from Hanoi.
To Thi Nau, a 23 year old suspected VC prisoner captured by Australian troops 25 October 1966 in the Nui Dinh Hills with a radio was later proven to be a National Liberation Front cadre member active in its propaganda, indoctrination and intelligence gathering.
We should take just a moment to talk about the Communist radio propaganda campaign. The
VietnamExperience book entitled The North, Publishing Company, 1986, talks of The Other PSYWAR: Boston
While the bulk of Radio Hanois Voice of Vietnam programming was directed toward boosting Communist morale, by 1972 as many as 32 out of as total of 728 broadcasting hours each week was in English. Radio Liberation, the clandestine mouthpiece of the Viet Cong, supplied an additional 12 hours of English language programming.
Many bemused American soldiers tuned to their favorite Communist disk jockey, Thu Huong, better known as
Hannah. Hannah would alternately harangue and cajole the Americans between plays of the latest pop tunes. While Radio Hanoi and its honey-voiced broadcaster took their propagandizing seriously, American GIs regarded their efforts as simply comic relief. Hanoi
U.S. warplanes struck the Hanoi radio station for the first time on 22 February 1968, but the transmitter continued working. During the Christmas bombings of 1972, American B-52s blasted the station again the station stayed on the air.
Another occasional theme of the NLF propaganda was in the form of taunts. One NLF leaflet mentions the siege of Khe Sanh. The Marines were placed in the center of enemy territory to tempt the VC and NVA to attack. They were staked out like a goat in tiger country. The Communists attacked and were fired upon and bombed on a daily basis. It went exactly as planned. The Americans challenged the Communists to come out and fight in the open where American technology and airpower could destroy them. The VC and NVA thought of it as another Dien Bien Phu and sent wave after wave of troops at the Marines. The Marines later withdrew. The NLF called them cowards for leaving in a terribly written leaflet:
U.S. TROOPS' SHAMEFUL WITHDRAWAL FROM THE KHE SANH BASE. Khe Sanh is a big front base of U.S. troops which located south of the DMZ. More than 6,000 Marines stationed here. To face with the North Quangtri Liberation armed forces violent attack and overwhelm. on June 26, 1968, after 150 days of encirclement, U.S. troops forced to run away from the Khe Sanh base though had received big reinforcement and more than 40,000 U.S. troops from other units.
Happy New Year 1969 Pocket Calendar
Like the GVN, the NLF also produced handy wallet-sized cards and calendars. One calendar has "Happy New Year 1969" on the front. The back has the twelve months and text:
Let the Vietnamese settle their internal affairs themselves. How many more days for you? Give yourself a chance. Get out now - alive!
1969 Pocket Calendar for Vietnamese
This colorful calendar depicts a bird escaping from a red, white and blue cage with a dollar sign at the top that clearly represents the United States. My friend, Dr. Nick Gessler of Duke University who teaches the course Espionage, Cryptology & Psychological Operations sent me this calendar and the following one obtained from East German archives after the fall of Communism. Apparently the East Germans worked closely with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong and kept records of what they printed. These leaflets were brought out of the DDR about 1979-1980. The text is:
Ally Yourself with the People
Rise Up in Revolution
Seize the Reins of Government
1972 Pocket Calendar for Vietnamese
This patriotic vignette depicts a heroic Communist soldier waving at a crowd of marching Vietnamese protestors. The text is:
Follow the Flag of Our Great Cause
Join the People in Fighting the Americans to Save Our Nation
NLF Christmas Card
The NLF produced a number of small Christmas cards in the form of leaflets. They each showed a scene of a wife at home missing her husband who was at the front. Each had text asking American to end the war. For more information of this and other Propaganda Christmas Cards check out my article on Counterfeit Christmas Cards.
This leaflet uses the same color and general style as the Christmas leaflet above. The front shows a soldier in battle at left and a scene of his home and daughter at right. The text is:
The back has what seems to be a short poem written by John A. Carvalho, Wing Equipment and Repair Squadron 17. It is entitled "Comin' Home Soon," and mentions a mother and a girl awaiting the return of their son or sweetheart who is stationed in Da Nang.
The Flower Series
"Series" might be too strong a word since I have only seen two leaflets that featured flowers in full color. As I have stressed, usually the Viet Cong had no access to decent paper or full color printing presses. The fact that these are on cardboard and fully colored indicates that they were made in Hanoi, while pretending to be from Viet Cong in the field.
The Whole Thing was a Lie
This leaflet mentions a Master Sergeant Duncan and ends with the frequencies and times of Radio Hanoi broadcasts.
The Prime of Life
The second flower cardboard leaflet attacks the war and Nguyen cao Ky. These are both very attractive leaflets and clearly done in a printing plant in North Vietnam.
There are many more of these leaflets, printed professionally and sometimes in color. We will now discuss some of the cruder leaflets, possibly done in the field on small portable printing presses within their underground bunker complexes. Other such leaflets were produced by local printers who supported the Viet Cong and their Communist cause. In most cases the paper is crude, the ink is not evenly applied and the messages on one side of the leaflet bleed through to the other side.
NLF Leaflet for the 1st Air Cavalry Division
There are a number of poor-quality leaflets aimed at specific units. The 1st Air Cavalry Division seems to be a favorite of the NLF. A number of such leaflets exist. I could show another half dozen but I think several examples are sufficient.
A Second NLF Leaflet for the 1st Air Cavalry Division
The Above leaflet is in English on the front and the same message appears in Vietnamese on the back.
A Third Leaflet for the 1st Air Cavalry
Another small leaflet on dark-colored paper is addressed to the "Officers and men in the 1st Air Cav. Div." The leaflet tries to convince the cavalry that they are bearing a disproportionate load of the war. Some of the text is:
Why does Nixon always mouth peace and the withdrawal of US troops home yet the Air. Cav. Div. is still stretched out along a line of more than 200 km in these dense, rough and dangerous jungles.
As expected, it attacks Nixon and the ruling clique and ends with:
Dont be the last to die a worthless death in the last battle in Vietnam!
A Fourth Leaflet to the 1st Air Cavalry
This leaflet mentions General Abrams who replaced General Westmoreland. It claims that the Americans left hundreds of dead troops on the battlefield, something that never happens because the U.S. forces are scrupulous about leaving nobody behind. As in almost every case with these leaflets, the back has the same message in Vietnamese.
Another leaflet addressed to "G.I.s in the 1st Air Cavalry Division!" tells the cavalry that they have come from one terrible battlefield only to be sent to a second one. Some of the more interesting text is:
Refuse to go out on operation, to terrorize and massacre the Vietnamese people who are struggling for independence and peace.
NLF Leaflet for the 1st Infantry Division
This leaflet is difficult to read and the English bears numerous mistakes. One of the things I found interesting about it is the claim that various American soldiers of this division have committed suicide rather than fight the Viet Cong. Suicide is a problem more recently with units doing multiple tours in Iraq in Afghanistan, but I never heard of it being a problem in the 1960. Some of the text is:
On 20 April: Two GI of the US Ist Inf. Div killed themselves with their own knife and gun, to oppose the US aggressive was in SVN Of late, on May 9, 7 GI of this unit killed themselves, 2 with their guns, 2 other with their knives and 3 negro GI by jumping out of their helicopter.
US terrorist acts, however barbarously they are, definitely cannot triumph over that courageous anti-War movement!
A Vietnamese-language version of this leaflet also exists, but in a brown ink. Some of these leaflets were found by the 1st Division troops after the three-week Operation Birmingham, near the Michelin Plantation in War Zone C in May 1966. The division found and fought base camps and elements of the enemy 70th and 272nd Regiment.
The First Infantry Division (The Big Red One) arrived in Vietnam on 2 October 1965. The division departed Vietnam on 15 April 1970 and returned to Ft. Riley, Kansas.
NLF Leaflet for the 25th Infantry Division
Here the Viet Cong target another U.S. Infantry Division. I have seen two such leaflets. Both in English on the front, Vietnamese on the back. Both were obviously written by the same person since they both omit the second period in U.S. One is small, found in Phong Dinh in August 1966 and says in part:
25th U.S DIVS ARMYMEN!
What profit do you get by burning a house, killing a Vietnamese patriot?
Nothing, but more hatred for you from the S.V.N. people
The second leaflet is larger, found in Gia Dinh in July 1966, and says in part:
25th U.S Divs Officers and men!
Saigon is a traitorous gang hated by all the Vietnamese people. A powerless and rotten clique of Washington hangers-on They are but power-grabbers who thirst for exploiting, oppressing the people, making a fortune on their compatriots blood and bones
The 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning) was sending troops to Vietnam as early as January 1963. However, the entire Division was not ordered to Vietnam until 28 March 1966. The bulk of the Division left Vietnam on 8 December 1970 for Hawaii.
Viet Cong Leaflet to the 23rd Infantry Division
This leaflet has an interesting cartoon showing soldiers leaving an airplane while coffins are loaded into it. The leaflet is addressed to the Americal Division; the U.S. 23rd Infantry Division with the motto Under the Southern Cross. It is folded once, so has four sides. The propaganda message claims to be comments from the dairy of a soldier named Anello. The soldier seems to be a poet. Some of the text on the back is:
I hate not these people.
I hate not this land.
I hate but the person.
With his peace waving hand.
Starts a war and wants everyone else to fight it.
The leaflet concludes:
Dont interfere on the Vietnameses internal affairs; let the people of Vietnam be the masters of their destiny.
The 23rd Infantry Division was activated in Vietnam on 25 September 1967. The division departed Vietnam on 29 November 1971 for Ft. Lewis, Washington.
Leaflet to the 9th Infantry Division
It almost seems that the Viet Cong tried to prepare a leaflet for every division-sized unit in Vietnam. This one is addressed to the soldiers in the 9th Division who refused to take part in mopping up operations, so I suspect the audience was limited.
The 9th Infantry Division (Old Reliables) arrived in Vietnam from Ft. Riley, Kansas, on 16 December 1966. The Division departed Vietnam on 27 August 1969 and returned to Ft. Riley.
To American and Satellite Servicemen Wounded in Battle
Death was bad, but to many servicemen being horribly wounded or crippled was even worse. Here the Viet Cong play on that theme, implying that soldiers might be left on the field by their cowardly buddies. They can trust the VC to care for them.
A number of the leaflets used the "unjust war" theme. Some of the text is:
GIs Refuse to interfere in the Vietnamese peoples internal affairs. Cross over to the side of the Liberation Army. You will be helped to return home or go to a neutral country of your choice.
American Officers and Men...
American officers and men
Another leaflet is addressed to "American officers and men." It says In part:
The Thieu-Ky administration is a militarist one, lackey of the U.S. aggressors, it has resorted to bayonets and bombs to carry out an extremely barbarous repression of the patriots in South Viet Nam, causing untold suffering and mourning to the people
Notice that the NLF uses terms like "massacre" and "U.S. aggressors" in their propaganda. This would certainly make the leaflets worthless to the American finder. Some experts feel that the leaflets were meant more for American homeland consumption and to keep up the morale of the Viet Cong. They believe that these leaflets were not expected to work on the American fighting man.
American Officers and Men!
Another leaflet with a similar title is hand printed on a thin lined paper. As always the English is rather stilted and the grammar is just a bit off. This leaflet was produced by the Duc Pho National Front for Liberation.
American Officers an Men in South Vietnam
Once again we see a leaflet addressed to American Officers. This one is from the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation. It is written a bit better so we can assume the writer had a fair understanding of English, though he did use an instead of and in the title.
Another Viet Cong leaflet addressed to U.S. OFFICERS AND MEN! was left by sappers after an attack at Landing Zone Baldy, 35 miles north of Chu Lai on Highway One near the coast, in July 1970. The message is long and involved and not very good English. Some of the text on the front is:
About 200 years ago also on these days
Washington, the national heroes valiantly have risen up to lead American people against British imperialism achieved freedom and independence for the fatherland and happiness to their peoples. Lincoln
Some of the text on the back is:
To save the honor and prestige of the
, which is being stained by Nixons clique and for your survival you would join the Americans struggle movement by: US
Refuse going to battlefield.
So not let be killed on
Vietnam, Laos, battlefields by Nixons clique. Cambodia
Demand an end to the war, bring you home immediately.
The Provisional Revolutionary Government of
. Republicof South Vietnam
Sergeant Ken Murphy, formerly of the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) who picked up this leaflet at LZ Baldy says:
The sappers left them all over the Fire Support Base / Landing Zone after the attack; just dumped them all over the ground. Every time we pulled a stand down at a LZ or FSB we seemed to get incoming fire.
A second document from the PRG; the Provisional Revolutionary Government
The PRG was a mythical government allegedly formed in South Vietnam by the Hanoi government as a formal alternative to the American-backed Saigon regime. The text is long and complicated and the leaflet shows wear from heat and moisture. It basically makes a case against the legitimate government of South Vietnam and the United States.
U.S. OFFICERS AND MEN!
This leaflet bears the same title as the one above but has a much shorter message stating that Vietnam is no threat to the United States and the people of South Vietnam love peace. The spelling and grammar is poor but the message is clear Americans go home.
Sometimes the title is reversed like the all-text leaflet Officers and Men in the U.S and Satellites Army. This leaflet tells the Americans that the Vietnamese are united and cannot be defeated. The back of this leaflet has the same message in Vietnamese.
American Officers and GIs being Pushed to get killed in the Mountains.
There are dozens of leaflets addressed to American officers, soldiers and GIs, but I have never seen one that mentioned being killed in the mountains. This leaflet was found by a CAP Marine in 1969. The Vietnamese text at the top on the front says:
Leaflet from the Liberation Army of Thua Thien Hue to the American soldiers.
Vietnamese text at the bottom of the back of the leaflet is:
It's requested that all people, soldiers and guerrilla give the kindness to this surrendered U.S soldier and take him to safe place.
Here is another leaflet with GI in the title. The Communists regularly lied and bragged about major victories and thousands of battle won and U.S. aircraft shot down. This is rather typical of their exaggeration and seems to be talking about Tet 1968. This Quang Nam Province National Front for Liberation leaflet claims that the Viet Cong:
Annihilated 62,000 enemy troops 24 battalions, 95 companies of US and puppet troops 1000 military vehicles Tens of hundreds of aircraft 100 vessels
It was found by former Sergeant First Class Don Peterson who was in Vietnam during the years 1968-1969. He told me:
I picked this up somewhere between LZ Baldy and LZ Ross. I don't recall the Road number or Highway between the two Landing Zones, but they called it Que Son Valley.<
Join the Struggle
The honor of the United States was mentioned again in this 1970 leaflet from the Central Trung Bo National Front for Liberation. The text is very long and of course the grammar and spelling is awful so I will just add a few lines as written by the Viet Cong:
Join the struggle to save yourselves and the honor of the United States.
The US government has acknowledged that the Vietnam war is the third in the war history of the United states, as far as us casualties are concerned. Up to 10 p.m. March 31, total American death in Vietnam already surpassed the Korean war toll of 33,639 GIs, the 100,000 wounded for life were not included. It is worth moticing that the figures released by us authorities are always far below the truth.
Anyhow Nixon goes on embarcimg headlong into this costly, deadly, unjust, aggressive war thus wasting more of the American youth's blood .
WITHDRAWAL IS STRONG MEDICINE
We know that the Vietnamese carefully read everything written by American liberals and immediately reproduced enhanced versions of those comments in leaflets and newspapers, many of which were sent to American colleges and eagerly read by students. Here the Trung Bo National Front for Liberation is at it again, allegedly quoting from the famous American pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin Spock. I leave the errors in spelling and grammar. Some of the text is:
Baby Doctor Benjamen Spock says about the U.S. Governments Vietnam policy on his book in Vietnam: Our government has been an intruder in Vietnam for more than 15 years now. We gave France 2.5 billion dollars to put down the Vietnamese struggle for independence We have destroyed hamlets and cities, poisoned crops, burnt homes, crammed the refugee camps to overflowing and killed men, women and children by the hundreds of thousands with shells, bombs and napalm .
U.S. AND PUPPET WHOLESALE BRUTALITY CAN NEVER SAVE THEIR DOOM!
Another Trung Bo leaflet really goes overboard with the hyperbole about the American murder of Vietnamese civilians. Did the people believe these stories? In this leaflet Americans drown 1,500 innocent Vietnamese. I do admire their dedication in Trung Bo. It says in part:
American and puppet authorities selected 1,500 people suspected as VC to drown them in the sea, either by throwing them into the water from a US ship or by sinking the boats they were forced into. The survivors were finnished up by US troops volleys of machine guns Johnson, Nisson is escalating the unjust, illegal, immoral war in South Vietnam.
The Viet Cong loved to attack Nixon. He was unpopular at home and as long as the VC could attack him as a war-monger they could depend on demonstrations in the streets of America. In this leaflet they state that Nixon is heading down a tunnel with no end in sight by clinging to a costly war in Vietnam. The same message is printed on the back in Vietnamese.
The Real Nature of Johnsons Limited Bombing
Another leaflet from the same Central Trung Bo National Front for Liberation is a
single page that has been folded in such a way as to make a five-page booklet with three
pages of propaganda text. This leaflet was found by Sergeant Mike Elam in Qui Nhon just
after 31 March 1968. Mike was a member of Headquarters, 58th Field Depot in Qui Nhon from
December 1966 to October 1968. As usual, the spelling and grammar is full of errors.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Communist message is the mention of anti-war Senator McGovern and black demonstrations:
The movement of protest and demonstration against this "unjust, immoral and illegal war," to borrow the words of Senator McGovern - together with the unprecedented insurrection of the negroes has thrown the U.S. into a state of extreme confusion.
Opinion of Senator McGovern
Clearly the Vietnamese liked McGovern and saw him as a useful idiot who could be used to help them with their anti-American propaganda. We see his name used again in a leaflet where he is quoted talking at a peace rally in 1969 and again asking that the United States abandon the South Vietnamese.
Do GIs Have a Right to Know
This is one of the strangest leaflets found in
The NLF also produced surrender leaflets, just as the Allies did. One bears the long title:
THE SOUTH VIETNAM NATIONAL FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION GIVES LENIENT AND HUMANE TREATMENT TO RALLIED ARMYMEN AND PRISONERS-OF-WAR.
Notice that they have copied the "rallier" term from the South Vietnamese Chieu Hoi program. Some of the text is:
Men in the U.S. army and its satellite armies who cross over to the peoples side will be given kind treatment and helped to return to their families when conditions permit
This insult to the American military occurs again in a leaflet entitled "WHY?" In the leaflet the Americans are accused of using poison gas and compared to Nazis:
Are you resigned to playing the same role as those Nazi soldiers who blindly obeyed Hitlers orders and committed crimes ?
We do not kill you
Lieutenant Charles A. Brown of the 1st Air Cavalry took this small leaflet off a captured Viet Cong fighter in Quang Tri in 1967. It tells the American soldier exactly how he will be treated when he is captured and offers him humane treatment. Curiously, the back is like a pointee-talkee card for the Vietnamese and tells them how to give orders to American prisoners. Odd that it was taken from a Viet Cong prisoner. There is a single line in Vietnamese at the bottom of the front that says:
Show this to American soldiers when you capture them
The back of the leaflet is in Vietnamese and the first item in each line is the Vietnamese effort to phoneticize the English words, the second item that we have added is the English phrase they are trying to say, and the third item (the second on the actual leaflet) is the translation of the Vietnamese words explaining what the first item means.
VERBAL ORDERS FOR USE WHEN CAPTURING AND HANDLING AMERICAN PRISONERS OF WAR
- Xo-ren-do o dai! (Surrender or die)
- If you surrender you will not die
- Gan dao! (Gun down)
- Put your gun down
- Hen ap! (Hands up)
- Raise your hands
- Ton rao! (Turn round)
- Turn around
- Not mu! (Not move)
- Stand still
- Go quick! (Go quick)
- Move faster
- Xai-lon! (Silence)
- Be quiet
- Hoe de men! (Where the men?)
- Where are the others?
- Con dem! (Call them)
- Tell them to come out
For those that think teaching the Vietnamese to speak English phonetically is a new propaganda concept, here is a WWII leaflet where the British teach the German soldiers two words phonetically. The leaflet explains to them:
I surrender in English
Policy towards Officers and Men
The Communist Vietnamese prepared many of these policy leaflets. I believe this is the third one in this article. Curiously, they hardly ever mention the Hanoi Hilton or the torture, beatings and tiger cages. This lovely flag leaflet was produced by the South Vietnam Liberation National Front in 1966 to explain the Viet Cong policy toward officers and men in the United States and other armies fighting for South Vietnam.
VC Flag Leaflet
Sometimes the crude leaflets are quite colorful. Some of the leaflets depicted the Communist flag in full color. I have them with either English or Vietnamese text. One such leaflet shows their flag in red, blue and gold, and the title "Leniency and humane treatment to rallied Armymen and prisoners-of-war." There were discussions of the terms "leniency and humane treatment" in several American documents. Experts called the phrase "directive language" and believed that the Communist Party had directed that these words be used in almost every leaflet dealing with ralliers and prisoners. There were even discussions of what the words meant. One expert stated that the Viet Cong considered the American military to be nothing more than criminals and bandits who were in Vietnam illegally and who had no rights under the Geneva Convention. These Americans under their control were subject to severe punishment. If they treated a prisoner with the most rudimentary kindness that would automatically become lenient and humane treatment.
Policy toward US and Satellite POWs in
Another Viet Cong leaflet depicts a stylized flag and the title, Policy toward
US and Satellite POWs in
VC Flag Leaflet
The leaflet is actually a large sheet that has been folded into eight segments. It shows the Viet Cong flag on the front and all the text is in Vietnamese. It is interesting to note that the Americans prohibited the image of the Viet Cong flag on any Allied leaflet because the image could be cut from the leaflet by an enemy soldier and saved as a wallet-sized photograph and carried as a patriotic reminder of Communist victory. The text on the front of the folded sheet is:
Announcement for the Convention of Chairman's Plenum Session,
Central Committee of the National Liberation Front for
Soldiers of the Southern puppet government!
This Viet Cong flag leaflet asks the people to join the ranks of the guerrillas to drive out the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies. This leaflet was found in a village outside Landing Zone Baldy, a U.S. Marine Corps, Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) base located northwest of Chu Lai, Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam. The text is:
Soldiers of the Southern puppet government! Join the people in a united struggle under the just banner of the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam to defeat the American aggressors and their puppets and liberate South Vietnam.
Returning to the Arms of the People
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of leaflets written in Vietnamese, probably several times the number written in English. Most are all text. Here is an example:
Returning to the arms of the people is the road to life [the way to stay alive]. If you hesitate and are indecisive, or if you oppose the revolution, you will share the fate of the nation-stealers [the aggressors] and the traitors.
The National Revolution
Here is another Viet Cong leaflet that was obviously done with great care and color by the person that hand-wrote it. The message is:
The National Revolution for the Liberation of The South shall definitely succeed!
Another interesting piece of Vietnamese-language propaganda is the above newspaper Chinh Nghia (Righteous Cause). This propaganda newspaper was produced to keep the local people up-to-date with Communist doctrine. This New Year issue is for Tet (Year of the Horse) 1966. The paper was produced by the Military Proselytize and Propaganda Service. The main headline is the announcement of a four-day Tet truce. It ends with We wish you good health a happy new year.
Determined to Fight
The Vietnamese often prepared leaflets in the Vietnamese language for their own
civilians or the Army of
Determined to fight, determined to win.
General Attack; general uprising --- All together. Kill Americans and Thieu
Thieu of course is the
This Viet Cong leaflet to the Vietnamese depicts Americans falling into a deep hole. A B-52 bomber is in the hole too. It implies that the Vietnam War is a deep abyss that will bury the Americans. The text is:
All the Vietnamese people
I have over a dozen Viet Cong leaflets written in Vietnamese. Most are all text so I have chosen to just show those that have an image. This crude leaflet depicts the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese people chasing an American soldier. The text is:
All of the Vietnamese people are determined to stand up against the Americans and overthrow the Thieu and Ky regime to bring victory, independence, neutrality and peace to the country.
After you have seen hundreds of VC leaflets you begin to recognize the artwork. You see the way figures are drawn. This leaflet was a bit of a surprise. I did not recognize the style and this fellow is pretty good. I like his work. This leaflet was found by Sergeant Jim Hackbarth in 1970. On one side it depicts American troops boarding a ship for home on a miserable rainy day and the text:
The Americans are beaten and withdraw back to America.
On the other side we see Valiant Viet Cong in a village greeted by the local villagers and the text:
Our puppet soldier brothers return to the waiting arms of the people!
This is an invitation for the soldiers of South Vietnam to come over to the Viet Cong and a promise that they will be well treated and received like brothers. This is a very common VC appeal to soldiers in the ARVN to defect and come over to the side of the revolution. This was a standard part of all VC military proselyting [Binh Van] operations throughout the entire war.
Your wife is back at home
Another leaflet found in 1970 by Sergeant Jim Hackbarth. This leaflet is aimed at ARVN soldiers and shows in the first panel a Vietnamese soldier on the battlefield. The second panel shows an American soldier making a move on his wife. The final panel shows the wife at home with three unwanted children, one black and two white. You can just barely see the feet of the ARVN soldier as he returns home. The text is:
The enemy forces you to become a soldier in their army.
Your wife is back at home, but the Americans will not leave her alone.
If you survive to return home, the scene you'll see will be something very painful.
The back of the leaflet depicts a 14-line poem. The Vietnamese love poetry. The leaflet is coded N-7006.
Pitfalls and nail ditches
This cartoon leaflet depicts an American soldier who has fallen into what we called a punji trap, a hole camouflaged and filled with pointed sticks dipped in feces or something that makes them very dangerous. A buddy tries to pull him out as the rest of the squad moves forward. The text is interesting in the use of its words. It says:
Down with US Imperialism
Pitfalls and nail ditches are graves of our American enemies
The back is five lines of text:
Strategic hamlets are distinguished concentration camps which President Diem and the United States intend to put our fellow countrymen in.
Lets prevent the enemy from constructing strategic hamlets.
Lets rise up and destroy strategic hamlets.
Dont supply the enemy with bamboo trees and logs that are used to fence in hamlets and villages.
When a fence is burned, struggle against re-fencing.
The Green Leaflets
There are a large number of Viet Cong leaflets that are very crude and printed in green. Some have writing on the front, but because of the poor printing and color, it is unreadable. Here we show a few leaflets from the green leaflet series, possibly all printed by the same Viet Cong unit.
Their Lovely Hope
This leaflet depicts a loving husband and wife on the front. The back depicts what happened to their hope. A burial cross with a soldiers helmet on top. Some of the text is:
Their lovely hope has been smashed for good, because Tonys life has been taken away by Johnson-McNamaras dirty war in S.VN!
Whats in it for you G.I?
This green leaflet depicts a face with U.S. aircraft to the left and right. Some of the text on the back in English and Vietnamese points out that dying for the fatherland is an honor, but dying in a dirty war of aggression is shameful.
Home Sweet Home
I am not sure that the title of this leaflet is correct because I cannot see it clearly. It depicts a mother and father and two children in a happy home. This leaflet has a message on the back in English and Vietnamese. It says that the soldiers life is precious and his wife and family need him. It tells the soldier not to let Washington decide his fate by sending him to a war for American warmongers and their stooges.
VC Sex Leaflet
The Viet Cong rarely, if ever, depicted a naked woman on a leaflet. Some of the Communist leaflets imply sex, but it is never illustrated. For instance, one leaflet pictures a woman in bed with the blankets covering all but her eyes and the text:
I am waiting for you darling.
The back of the leaflet is all text and says in both English and Vietnamese:
I'm longing for your return home. Our happiness is here in our sweet home, NOT IN
! SOUTH VIETNAM
VC Snake and Skull
As you can see throughout this article, the Viet Cong rarely used cartoon images on their leaflets. For that reason, this one looked very odd to me. I suspected it was a fake. It had three things going for it; the really bad image of the female in the sex leaflet above, the text on the back which states No reenlistment and the fact that the text was in English and Vietnamese and divided by a five-pointed star. Because of these similarities, I am going to list this leaflet with the possibility that it came from the same VC unit. The front depicts a snake and a human skull and the text:
Which will be your turn?
The back is all text in green ink, and like the sex leaflet is in both English and Vietnamese:
For American Servicemen, S.Vn is the path of sufferings and death. Johnson McNamaras war have costed the life to ten of thousands of American youths. In a day not far off, the same lot will fall upon you.
12 MONTHS OF ACTIVE SERVICE IN S.VN ARE TOO MUCH LONG!
DEMAND IMMEDIATE REPATRIATION!
The concept of repatriation was quite common on Viet Cong leaflets and in this article alone I show nine examples of the use of the word. Like the leaflet above, this one depicts a cartoon image, two American soldiers returning home while a third is dead with a bullet in his helmet. Notice the code on this leaflet; MY-025. It is interesting to note that the word "My" means "America" in Vietnamese. This would imply (but not prove) that this was the 25th leaflet in this series aimed specifically at American soldiers. What also is interesting in this leaflet is mention of Liberal Senator George McGovern. He was a staunch anti-War advocate and here the Viet Cong quote one of his comments in English and Vietnamese:
Havent we had enough of this childish playboy dictator Ky who wastes American tax funds and American youths blood in VN. The US should immediately withdraw its troops from VN, the sooner the better
The War we are Waging is Not a Just and Necessary One
The leaflet above quotes an American anti-War politician. The Viet Cong loved to quote these elected officials and tried to use them to destroy the morale of American troops. In this case, they quote Mrs. Shirley Chisolm, a black member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She says in part:
We are tightly locked in this war by the stubborn and arrogant leaders who dare not acknowledge their mistake
The Viet Cong add in their usual writing style:
You certainly have a beloved mother who is hourly and minutely worrying about you, and yearning miserably day and night for you to return home
The back of the leaflet has the same message in Vietnamese. Sergeant Jim Hackbarth told me that as a member of the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, he found a bunch of these about 1971 near Landing Zone Fort Compton, which is approximately halfway between Saigon and the Cambodian border. They had been left behind by the NVA who were rapidly departing the area leaving behind their packs and equipment.
IN THE NEW YEAR, WE ARE DETERMINED TO EARN NEW VICTORIES
This February 1966 Viet Cong leaflet that was filed by American Intelligence as 00537 is on a terrible red paper that makes the text hard to read. It is a reminder that the Viet Cong printing many of these in the bush had to use any paper that they could find. The American description is:
The leaflet contains some slogans to urge the people in the urban areas to rise up and join the struggle. The slogans are about the high cost of living, general mobilization of college and high school students, release of political prisoners, the security of the people, pay raises for Government of Vietnam personnel, and the use of chemical poisons to destroy crops.
The text on the front is:
IN THE NEW YEAR, WE ARE DETERMINED TO EARN NEW VICTORIES. EVERY BRETHREN OF THE TOWNS AND OF THE COUNTRYSIDE, UNITE TOGETHER AND RAISE YOUR VOICE FOR THE STRUGGLE:
- Protest against the high prices, against raising [unreadable], against raising the tax and the [unreadable]
- Protest conscription, militarizing the students, the youth and the clerks.
- Request that the US and their henchmen/underlings release political prisoners, and allow their families to freely visit them during the Tet holiday and during martial law.
- Protest against terrorist operations, detaining people without reason, and request a guarantee of security for the people.
The text on the back is:
- Request pay increases for factory workers, enlisted men and clerks.
- Show disfavor against the invading United States and their henchmen in spreading chemical poisons, and destroying the people's crops in the countryside.
- Money cannot make up for people's lives; request an immediate stop to the spreading of the chemical poisons, the ones that destroy the people's crops.
- Request an immediate stop to raids, bombing, and artillery strikes so that our people can safely work in the fields.
- The invading United States is the enemy of our people.
- The imperialist United States should get out of the southern region of Vietnam
If you Wish to be Home Soon
I add this leaflet here because although there is no image, all of the text is in green. The text was also green in the preceding leaflet so these would seem to go together. This leaflet appears to be from just after Nixons bombing of the North because it gloats that America has been forced to stop the bombing. Of course, the bombing stopped when the North agreed to return to the peace talks. A clever reversal of the facts on the part of the Communists. Some of the long text message is:
IF YOU WISH TO BE HOME SOON AMERICAN SERVICEMEN!
The U.S. government has been forced to halt all air, naval and artillery bombardment unconditionally on the whole North Vietnam territory and to accept to sit at the conference table to talk with the SVNNFL Dont be so foolish as to be the last soldier killed in this war and to sacrifice the happiness of your families for the pockets of the warmongers Refuse to go fighting We wish you an early home return.
Who will be the last
This is an interesting leaflet because it uses the same propaganda theme that both the Americans and Germans used in WWII. The leaflets would usually say something like "Why die at 5 minutes to twelve?" The concept was that you would be killed five minutes before the end of the war. This leaflet depicts a wife in a cemetery crying over the grave of her departed husband. The back is blank. Here the VC asks:
Who will be the last G.I to die in Vietnam? Refuse any fighting!
People all over the world
Every now and then the Viet Cong produced a really clever piece of propaganda and I feel forced to depict it. The United States produced dozen of leaflets telling the enemy of all the nations aligned against them. You can see these in my article Allies of the Republic of Vietnam. Here, the Viet Cong strikes back and tells allied soldiers of all the nations where civilians have risen up against the war. They mention demonstrations in Belgium, Italy and New Zealand. The leaflet is signed by the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation and ends with:
To defend the honor of the United States; demand that: the Johnson Government end its aggressive war in Vietnam. Withdraw all U.S. troops and military personnel from South Vietnam and your repatriation.
Viet Cong Reward Leaflet for 1LT Marcinko
Another type of Viet Cong propaganda is called the "slogan slip." JUSPAO Field Memorandum Number 14, 9 February 1966 says:
A tool in the Viet Cong communication armory is the slogan slip. This is a small piece of paper (sometimes as small as two by three inches) which contains a short message expressing one idea. The most terse, for example, might read "Down with US-Lackey Clique". Slogans could be written on paper. on wood panels, carved into tree trunks and also lettered on walls or on large banners to be hung across roads leading into villages. Most of the slips I saw were just standard writing paper cut into about one inch stripes with handwritten text on them.
A longer version of such a slip is depicted in Rogue Warrior, Richard Marcinko, Pocket Books, NYC, 1992. This hand-printed scrap of paper bears a message on each side. The text on one side is:
Award of 50,000 piasters to anyone who kills First Lieutenant Dick Marcinko, a gray-faced killer who has brought death and trouble to the Chau Phu Province during the Lunar New Year.
Text on the other side is:
Award of 10,000 piasters to anyone who kills the leader of the secret blue-eye killer's party which has massacred many families during the United Nation day of 2 January 1968.
Gary D. Murtha mentions more about the Viet Cong hand-written propaganda in his self-published booklet The Phoenix Program in Vietnam, 1994.
The Viet Cong also had a propaganda program similar to the U.S. leaflet program, but on a much smaller scale. Portable typewriters and printing presses were used when available. In fact, a large scale printing shop was discovered across the border in Cambodia. However, it was the hand written messages on poor quality paper that shows us that they took the propaganda business serious. For someone to sit down and actually pen a propaganda leaflet, knowing that it would probably be pitched in the trash, proves that the political cadre took his job serious.
Murtha illustrates some examples of the hand written leaflet. One is:
The American aggressors must be expelled and sent home so that the Vietnamese people can solve their own internal problems of the country. If this is accomplished there will be real, immediate peace.
The text of another is:
ARVN, Civil Guard and popular forces. You should all keep out the American aggressors and help liberate the district. The American aggressors must be exterminated.
The U.S. Government
Dr. Nicholas Gessler of Duke University has several hand-written leaflets, all brought back by the same veteran of Vietnam. They are written on very poor quality paper and in some cases the text is almost unreadable. There is no attempt to use proper grammar or capitalization. One of the leaflets simply says:
America to the American people - Vietnam to the Vietnamese people
A second hand-written leaflet with a longer message says in part:
A peaceful south vietnam having genuine sovereignty will treat neutraligy is a decisive condition for u.s. troops to get out of this damned and dangerous war
The leaflet above says:
The u.s. government sent you into south Vietnam to serve as cannon-fodder for the Thieu ky rotten clique. Tens of thousands of u.s. youth don't see their loved-ones any more:
Do support the struggle opposing Thieu ky to be go home.
Marine Private Robert Garwood
Marine Private Robert Bobby Garwood has been called the White Cong, an American serviceman who defected to the enemy. Nobody is quite sure of the extent of his collaboration. Garwood has given interviews, been in various books and magazines, been on trial and has told different and changing stories time and time again. For instance, he told various sources that he had been captured after he had become lost or had been captured in a brothel, while a Viet Cong source said that he crossed over willingly. The only fact that seems sure is that Robert Garwood disappeared on 28 September 1965 while in Vietnam, and reappeared on 22 March 1979, six years after all Americans prisoners of war had allegedly been returned by North Vietnam.
On 12 October 1965, A reward of 100,000 $VN was offered for information leading to the successful recovery of the missing serviceman and an additional 2,500 $VN for the recovery of his missing Jeep.
Fellow Soldiers Appeal
On 3 December 1965, India Company, 3d Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment found a document entitled Fellow Soldier's Appeal This is a fellow american soldier appealing to the U.S. troops fighting in South Vietnam (dated 20 October 1965) signed by Garwood on a gate near Da Nang. The leaflet stated that Vietnam was a civil war, urged American troops to stop massacring the people of Vietnam and destroying their homes and land, and to refuse to fight and return to their sweet home beside their parents wife and children.
A second version of this document was found on 18 July 1966 in the
area, but it appeared to be on better quality paper and the signature was at a different angle. On 3 March 1966, the contents of the Fellow Soldier's Appeal were broadcast over Radio Da Nang . Naval aviators, Captain John Fellowes, captured on 27 August 1966, and Commander Everett Alvarez, captured on 5 August 1964, stated in personal interviews in November 1992 that Garwood identified himself as "Bobby Garwood" on Radio Hanoi broadcasts and stated that he was a US Marine who had crossed over. Private First Class Jose Ortiz-Rivera, US Army, and Lance Corporal Jose Agosto Santos, USMC said that Garwood took the name Nguyen Chien Dau (Nguyen the fighter). Hanoi
The leaflet has some immediate discrepancies. American is not capitalized, and no Marine I ever met would ever call himself a soldier. In addition, the leaflet lists Garwoods MOS as a Chaplains Assistance whereas he was actually assigned to the motor pool as a driver.
Garwood mentions the leaflet in Conversations with the Enemy, The Story of PFC Robert Garwood, Winston Groom and Duncan Spencer, Putnam, N.Y., 1983. Remember, this is Garwoods version and not necessarily the exact way it happened. He has a vested interest in making himself a victim. He claims that while in captivity a Mr. Ho asked him if he would write a letter to his friends back home. Garwood says that he replied that his arm was injured and he could not write. Mr. Ho had brought a draft of the letter entitled Fellow Soldiers Appeal typed in blue ink on clean white paper. Garwood says that at first he refused, but was put under continual pressure and reminded that Americans had come to Vietnam and raped women, killed men and burned down homes. Ho said that he knew Garwood had been hoodwinked, but the Viet Cong believe that everyone is entitled to a mistake and he would be reeducated. Later, after an alleged escape attempt and Viet Cong torture, the letter was again brought forward and Garwood says that he thought:
If any of our troops pick it up it will be for souvenir purposes only. No piece of propaganda has ever affected our troops. Its too damn ridiculous. Anyone who picked it up would know I did it under pressure.
He signed the leaflet and then began to receive milk, better rations and medicines for his wounds. Later Garwood mentions thinking about the signing of the letters and how he felt uncomfortable about his actions. Notice that now the term is plural. He clearly signed more than one propaganda leaflet. He admits that in early 1967 he joined in signing a Letter of Appreciation to the National Liberation Front knowing that it might be used as a propaganda document. When Marine Lance-Corporal Agostos Santos admitted to signing a Viet Cong leaflet in mid-1967, Garwood says that he could not criticize, since he had already written a propaganda letter, made a tape recording and starred in a movie for the Vietnamese propaganda machine.
Although Garwood later contested the accusations, returning American prisoners of war stated that Garwood had carried a picture and worn a button depicting Ho Chi Minh, spoke fluent Vietnamese, carried an AK-47 rifle and grenades, broadcast anti-American propaganda, and bragged about fighting beside his Viet Cong comrades. On 9 February 1968 a group of documents captured by F Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment included four personal letters and five propaganda statements attributed to Garwood. Three of the statements were allegedly written and signed by Bobby Garwood, while two were unsigned. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and later the CIA both looked at documents and stated that the handwriting appeared to be that of Garwood. After much of the testimony became public knowledge the Department of Defense changed Garwoods status from Returnee to AWOL/Deserter/Collaborator. Garwood was eventually tried and found guilty of collaboration with the enemy and striking a fellow prisoner.
The specifications of the first charge were that he served as an interpreter during indoctrination classes, informed the enemy about complaints and feelings of fellow captives, interrogated POWs about military matters and escape plans, indoctrinated POWs and recommended that they cross over to the enemy, and that he had served as a guard. The second guilty verdict was for striking a fellow prisoner with the back of his hand.
Garwood was reduced to the lowest rank, dishonorably discharged, and forfeited his pay and allowances. The Marines refused to pay him the $147,000 in salary he was owed as a POW and he eventually took the case to
Court of Claims. U.S.
U.S.interview of Nguyen Dinh Trang, former Enemy Proselytizing Cadre of the 1st Regiment, 2nd Peoples Army of Division added: Vietnam
Mr. Garwood worked for the Military Region 5 Enemy Proselytizing Office until he went north in 1971. He wore a Peoples Army of
uniform, carried an AK type weapon, went on military operations, and was a Communist Party member. Mr. Garwood became a valuable propaganda tool, writing pamphlets, and at times traveling near Vietnam U.S.camps to use a loudspeaker to propagandize forces. U.S.
In 1993, the Government of
gave a 5-minute film clip entitled Inhabitants of My Native Land to American authorities. The film shows two Americans in the Vietnam jungle. One is called Bobby, an American dressed in a North Vietnamese Army uniform and carrying an AK-47 who crossed over to the Viet Cong because he was intelligent and knew that the Americans were losing the war. Bobby who has taken the name Nguyen the Militant is depicted on a late 1967 military mission. There is conjecture that if the movie had been shown at Garwoods trial, he would have been convicted of a more serious charge. Vietnam
In Marines and Military Law in Vietnam: Trial by Fire, USMC Lieutenant Colonel Gary D. Sous says in part about Garwood:
Unlike those who had been offered release before him, Garwood declined and instead asked to join the National Liberation Front. He adopted the Vietnamese name Nguyen Chien Dau and joined the enemy. As a member of the Military Proselytizing Section of Military Region 5, he taped and wrote propaganda messages, made loudspeaker broadcasts near Marine Corps positions, and assisted in guarding and indoctrinating U.S. prisoners in the MR-5 POW camp located in the village of Tra Khe, Tra Bong District, Quang Ngai Province. Garwood lived with the camp guards outside the compound and, when not in the camp, was armed with a rifle or pistol.
In July 1968 Garwood was given officer status in the National Liberation Front and promoted to a grade equivalent to second lieutenant. In a letter to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State coordinating Garwood's return General Wilson wrote: "I must insist that the following sequence of events take place to insure that full legal rights of PFC Garwood are protected," and he detailed the scenario he required. 'Immediately, repeat immediately, advise Garwood of his full legal rights. This advice must be the first words spoken to Garwood . . . . The warning must be witnessed by a third party. . . . A tape recording of the foregoing events will be made."
Several months before his court martial convened, Garwood filed suit in the U.S. Court of Claims for $146,749.24 in back pay and allowances, as well as for promotions that were, he alleged, wrongfully denied him.
Garwood was the only former prisoner of war of any Armed Service convicted of acts committed while with the enemy; not for acts committed while a prisoner. for his prisoner status ended the day he refused release and asked to remain with the enemy. Robert R. Garwood was the enemy.
John Sexton Jr.
Many other American soldiers were depicted on Viet Cong leaflets. In most cases we do not know if they willingly helped the enemy or their pictures were taken without their knowledge and the leaflets were written for them by Communist Party members. In this case, Specialist 4th Class John Sexton Jr. of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment is depicted and allegedly writes an antiwar message asking the Americans to quit the war and return home. This leaflet was filed in the East German archives and sent to me after the fall of Communism by Dr. Nick Gessler of Duke University.
According to POW NETWORK records, Sexton was captured on 12 August 1969 and suddenly released on 8 October 1971. It says in part:
Unreceptive certainly describes the attitude encountered by recently upgraded Army Staff Sergeant John Sexton, who in 1971 was suddenly and without warning released from a VC prison camp near the Cambodian border. At first Sexton was accompanied by NVA soldiers who made him walk point, but he was then abandoned near the small town of Snoul in Cambodia to make his own way back. Sexton, who was dressed in black pajamas and carried a message from the communists asking for reciprocity for his release, said that once he reached American lines no one on his own side was interested, other than to impress upon him that he was to keep his mouth shut. For a long time he felt that it might have been more convenient for his own side if he had died in prison camp. For years after his return, he could not speak at meetings held by the families of other prisoners without an ever-present government representative to insure his silence. He still feels that his own government had somehow become persuaded that he had been turned by the communists and that was why he had been chosen to be released.
When Sexton was released he had numerous old grenade wounds on his body, malaria, a low grade fever, a weight loss of 45 pounds and failing vision in his right eye. A North Vietnamese Lieutenant was released for Sexton three days later on 11 October 1971. Apparently there was some hope that this would be the opening round in a number of prisoner swaps. That never happened. The CIA was suspicious of Sexton and carefully watched him for several years after his release.
One might question why an American would ever sign a Communist propaganda leaflet. The causes are many: torture, starvation, Stockholm syndrome, and in at least one case a desire to help fellow prisoners. Captain Harold Kushner, a U.S. Army doctor who spent 1,931 days as a prisoner of the Viet Cong explains in Allen B. Clarks Valor in Vietnam: Chronicles of Honor, Courage, and Sacrifice: 1963-1977, Casemate Publishers. Kindle Edition. He says early in his confinement:
An English-speaking Vietnamese officer came with a portable tape recorder and asked me to make a statement against the war. I told him that I would rather die than speak against my country.
However, there came a time when he watched his fellow prisoners die with no way to help them. As a medical doctor he found this unbearable. He says:
I was not allowed to practice medicine unless a man was thirty minutes away from dying, then they came down with their little bottles of medicine and said Cure him. At one point we were all dying of dysentery, and I agreed to sign a propaganda statement in return for Chloromycetin, a strong antibiotic, to treat our sick.
Aussie Go Home
Just as the US and Australian forces sometimes named the enemy unit on a propaganda leaflet, the Viet Cong sometimes returned the favor to the Australians. On one occasion, they produced a leaflet that depicts death over a series of grave markers, and the words in bold black, Aussie Go Home!
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 Fedyszyn from Dunkirk, New York, a forward-observer radioman from C Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, 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 Americans are identified as Lyndon Johnson (carrying President Diem who holds a bag of dollars) and General Maxwell Taylor. The ship is identified as Seventh Fleet. Some of the text 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 get out; American imperialism go away; and Down with the American Imperialists and the invaders Southeast Asia bloc.
VC Paper Poster/Banner
I dont know if we should call this a poster or a banner. It is all paper, crudely hand-written, but at the top a stick has been placed through the paper and a string which allows it to be hung like a tapestry. 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.
The VCS code was used by American Intelligence. Troops in the field would find these enemy leaflets, make a written report on a Propaganda Work Sheet and then forward them to Intelligence. This is interesting because two leaflets were given the same code, probably because they were found at the same time. It is also very early in the war. Americans were just appearing in 1962. The report says in part:
Found at map location YT 420042. They were probably disseminated within the past half hour. Written by hand several shots were fired Saturday 25 August 1962 0900 picked up by G-2. Not very effective picked up within an hour after distributed. 1st Lieutenant, Armor, Long Khanh Detachment.
The larger of the two leaflets is in the form of a poem. My translator said that the poem was effective. It is in such bad shape that I am amazed that he could translate it:
Calabash gourd please take care of wax gourd
Even though you're different, you're on the same shelf*
Our blood is Vietnamese blood
Why shall we turn a glorious page of history into mud?
Our relatives and our neighborhood
Are all one big family**
If our hands are cut, our blood shall shed and our gut shall be painful
Our homes shall be destroyed and our minds will be sad
You still have a conscious and your mind
How dare you follow the United States and carry out atrocious acts?
Dear soldier of the southern region
Please pick the glorious path soon
* The first two lines are so strange, mentioning two types of gourds, but they are a literal translation of a Vietnamese saying that means that people of the same village or region or country should unite and take care of each other, no matter who they are or what they believe.
** Literally Are all relatives of each other.
The second smaller leaflet has a straight-forward message apparently for the soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam:
Dear soldiers, if you do not carry out orders from the United States/Diem, forcing people to do work building Strategic Hamlets, you are contributing in the struggle against the United States/Diem
The American invaders
The leaflet above depicts marching Vietnamese with banners. Those banners were very popular among the Communists and we show two of them here. Both of these anti-Government banners were found by United States Army Lieutenant (later Captain) James T. Dean Jr. of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in an enemy base in 1968. Dean served as a field artillery forward observer in III Corps and the Iron Triangle. The text is:
The American invaders are losing; the puppet government of Thieu-Ky is collapsing. Come back to the people; turn your weapons around to shoot the Americans to save the country, your families, and yourselves.
Brother soldiers of the 25th Division, Regional Forces and Popular Forces; it's time for the Americans, Thieu and Ky to pay for their crimes. If you are still hesitated, you will certainly be punished by the uprising force.
Note: The ARVN 25th Division was formed in 1961 as part of a program to increase regular army strength by 15,000. It completed training and was ready to go into the field on 1 April 1963. Regional and Popular Forces are South Vietnamese National Guard-type units. Regional Forces were company-size and protected district areas. Popular Forces were platoon-size and guarded their home villages.
Phil Fehrenbacher was with the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion from February 1968 to October 1969. He brought home the six-foot Viet Cong recruiting banner above and later framed it for display in his art studio. The banner has the text:
Through exemplary cadre we shall strive to achieve victory in every battle
The panels body is made up of a certain kind of reed (tranh) that grows in the Mekong Delta. The Vietnamese often used the reeds to make a 3 x 6-foot sleeping bag (cai nop) that could be rolled into a tight bundle for travelling.
Why do you use the American Weapons
Some posters were just hand-written on whatever paper the Viet Cong could find. Here, the propaganda message is written on some kind of writing paper. The poster to South Vietnamese troops was found in December 1965 and says in part:
Why do you use the American weapons in order to shoot and kill your father, mother, relatives and your people? Every month, with the insignificant salary you are paid, why are you sent to the battle field?
A second hand-written poster, almost identical in appearance, was found at the same time and says:
Laborers, farmers and soldiers unite in order to fight against the American terrorism. Soldiers; you should not oppress the people. What fault, what mistake did our people commit so that they were shot and killed?
Glory to our Liberation Army Warriors
Retired Colonel Michael D. Treinen liberated this Viet Cong poster in 1968 while serving as an Army Captain in Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Advisory Team 55 at Rach Gia, Kien Giang Province, V Corp. The text is:
Glory to our Liberation Army Warriors
Grab the gun!
This North Vietnamese Patriotic Poster depicts a heroic Communist soldier resolutely advancing against the enemy. The text is:
Grab the gun!
To kill the invading Americans is youth's glory.
The Poster was prepared by the Liberation Publishing House of
. Rach Gia Province
A roof is a shield to defend against the US
Some of the posters were professionally done in
and very artistic. This poster depicts heroic North Vietnamese firing at North Vietnam planes and one comes down in flames. This image is very reminiscent of North Vietnamese stamps which regularly pictured American aircraft shot down by North Vietnamese soldiers and women. US
Nothing is more precious than freedom of choice
This poster depicts three North Vietnamese fighters, one holding a picture of Ho Chi Minh on high.
Keep the school open for the children
This poster depicts two armed North Vietnamese protecting a school from American invaders.
THE CRIMES OF SOLDIERS JUST MAKE THE U.S. RICH
We mention Rach Gia twice in the poster section above. The Communist Victory Printing House of Rach Gia Province also produced numerous leaflets. This one is aimed at the Vietnamese irregular forces working with the Americans. It asks them to turn on their allies. The leaflets are printed in a crude, yellowish paper. The text is:
THE CRIMES OF SOLDIERS JUST MAKE THE U.S. RICH
What do the Popular Forces and Regional Forces soldiers do every day?
-They establish outposts to take away the people's land
-They arrest people, beat them up, forcibly draft men into the army, flatten the people's homes, and force the people to move into strategic hamlets.
-They steal money, steal property, and collect taxes to make money illegally, thereby hurting the people's livelihood.
-They recruit spies to infiltrate the liberate zone and serve as informants to attack and destroy revolutionary organizations.
-They suppress the people's just struggle demonstrations and protests.
Therefore, to be a soldier is to help the American pirates and their lackeys commit crimes against the people and against our country. So, dear soldiers, you are hurting yourselves, you are hurting your own wives and children, and you are hurting your own relatives and family members. You get no benefit at all from this, because all of the profits from your activities flow straight into the hands of the American bandits and the Thieu-Ky clique who are now living lives of luxury and pleasure in the cities.
Do not participate in sweep operations to force the people to move out of their homes
To do so would not be to your benefit and would instead hurt you greatly
No matter how much salary they pay you or how high a rank they bestow upon you
It would be better for you to kill the Americans and kill the thugs
Your own families and our Fatherland are now longing
For patriotic soldiers to perform feats of arms for the revolution and to return to the waiting arms of the people.
Note: The South Vietnamese Popular Force consisted of local militias that protected their home villages from attacks. The Regional Forces manned the country-wide outpost system and defended critical points such as bridges and ferries.
A Propaganda Souvenir Stamp Album
We mention above that the North Vietnamese produced a series of propaganda stamps claiming to have shot down 2000, then 2500, then 3000
aircraft and so on. These stamps were used on mail sent around the world in an attempt to convince the citizens of other countries that the North Was winning the war. There are over a hundred such propaganda stamps that show victories by the Communist forces on the land, sea and air and commemorate the heroes of the revolution. U.S.
Stamps Commemorating 2000
Aircraft Downed U.S.
Notice that the picture used on the album is identical to that on the stamps. In both cases the small Viet Cong female wears perfectly ironed black pajamas that appear to have never seen service in the field. The
pilot looms over her like a hulking giant, brought down by this tiny hero of the revolution. It has been surmised that the original picture was taken in the Hanoi Botanical Gardens, but in the stamp a burning tail rudder has been added. U.S.
The Two meet again
Here is the actual photo of Nguyen Thi Kim Lai, the seventeen-year-old commander of a female militia unit, escorting US Airman William Robinson was one of four crew members on a HH43 rescue helicopter captured after being shot down on 20 September 1965 during a rescue operation. In 1985, the former Airman returned to Vietnam and met with Nguyen Thi Kim Lai under better circumstances.
How to Process an American Prisoner of War
I had no intention of adding a leaflet here in the Philatelic section but it just seems to fit here so well. This Viet Cong leaflet tells the people how to deal with downed American pilots:
HOW TO PROCESS AN AMERICAN PRISONER OF WAR
When you see the enemy's parachute, do not shoot. Organize and proceed to arrest him. Do your best to capture him alive.
When you capture him, proceed to search him immediately, confiscate his weapons, documents and other items.
Take him immediately to the local and the nearest authority or military unit. In addition, hand in captured and confiscated items, do not leave them behind, and do not keep them in your own belongings. Make a detailed report and document it all.
Watch and guard him carefully, prevent him from escaping or being rescued.
If you are not responsible, do not get close and interact. Whoever interacts with him must retain the posture of the victor, be professional and polite.
Treat and feed him correctly and as regulated. Do not hit or kill. If injured, give him medical attention.
DISTRIBUTE THIS WIDELY WITHIN THE ARMED FORCES, MILITIA AND THE PEOPLE
Vietnamese Communist Propaganda Postcard
The North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong were serious about their propaganda and realized the power it had to sway non-combatants and citizens of neutral countries. This postcard shows a female propagandist using a hand press to print propaganda newspapers and leaflets. It is dated 1964 and the artist is identified as by Thai Ha. As these cards were mailed overseas they were meant to show the recipients the power and dedication of the Vietnamese propagandists. This same artist drew numerous other postcards, including Viet Cong picking up cartridges dropped by the enemy and a meeting of the Congress of Elite Fighters.
You just need to know who to ask!
As long as we are depicting female Viet Cong fighters perhaps this In-Country cartoon fits in perfectly here. A Lieutenant S-2 (Intelligence) is pointing out the enemy on his map and tells his commander that one unit is unidentified. The cleaning lady, clearly a VC intelligence agent tells the two who that enemy unit is. There might be more truth than fiction in that cartoon.
I like the above leaflet because it claims to have been written by an American living in
. Apparently English was not his first language because the leaflet is filled with grammatical errors that are more likely made by an ethnic Vietnamese propagandist. I quote some of the more interesting lines: Costa Mesa, California
American Government must be blind and foolish to send Americans over here to be killed or wounded for the likes of them.
But, since I have came into
, I have seen and heared many stories that make me change my mind. Vietnam
I have been and talked with many Americans Saigon Majors, Colonels, and a few Generals, and to my opinion most of them would have to be retired if it was not for this war to give them an excuse to stay.
The puppet administration in Saigon is that most of the BASTARDS want to make Commanding Generals of
before they reach the age of 35. South Vietnam
G.I. have no business being here! U.S.
Join together and demand to come home at once!
Is the US Winning the War?
This leaflet was brought back by an American soldier in 1967. It was also printed on green paper, and that might have been hard to see in a jungle environment.
U.S. M29A1 81 mm Mortar. It was the standard US medium mortar in Vietnam.
A copy of this leaflet was found by Anthony (Tony) Ey, a former Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diver and Vietnam War veteran who was working in Cambodia, Vietnam and the South Pacific for a number of years. He was involved in demining and the demolition of unexploded material. He recently came across the above leaflet in a Vietnamese 81 mm mortar found north of the old Demilitarized Zone. It looked like an illuminating round but was a leaflet round and leaflets were recovered. There was some question about the mortar the Viet Cong were using. The 81 mm is used both by the Americans and the French, so it might have been captured by the Communists sometime in the past.
What a Viet Cong leaflet looks like after 50 years in a mortar shell
While conducting removal of unexploded ordnance in Vietnam in 2018 a technician came across a NVA or VC 82 mm Propaganda mortar from 1968. He said it was the first time anyone could remember finding one that had not functioned. After taking care of fuse, he opened the mortar and removed the ejection charge.He then removed the leaflets. He said that most were so water-stained you could not read them.
There were numerous other themes and mixtures of themes used on NLF leaflets. We show samples of such leaflets above. They are but a few of dozens of such leaflets brought back from Vietnam.
It is criminal
Some Viet Cong leaflets were extremely poorly made, just badly typed on any available paper and left where American soldiers might find them. An example is the following. It is a short typewritten message with no understanding of English grammar:
Burning, houses, killing honest people, raping women, it is criminal,
officers and men dont do so. U.S.
Stop terrorist raids
Sometimes the slogan slips were in English and Vietnamese. This slip has the short message in two languages, but my translator says they are quite different.
A Vietnamese friend says that the Vietnamese text actually says:
Know better than to die for American warmonger-in-chiefs!
Another such leaflet says:
1. Stop terrorist raids, massacring, plundering, house burning, woman raping!
2. Stop herding the population into disguised jails dubbed strategic hamlets.
3.Hearty welcome to American officers and mens progressive acts in opposition to the dirty aggressive war waged by Johnson McNamara in South Vietnam!
American Servicemen of the US 11th Independent Armoured-Car Regiment
Another typewritten leaflet on cheap paper uses some interesting English grammar. Notice the use of Armoured instead of Armored. Some of the text of this leaflet is:
AMERICAN SERVICEMEN OF
US11TH INDEPENDENT ARMOURED-CAR REGIMENT AT SUOIRAM BASE ( ) LONGKHANH PROVINCE
- Heavy failures on all SVN battlefields
- The intense struggle of the progressive American people and the world's people in protest against
aggressive war in SVN. US
Recently, on Binh Long, Long Khanh battlefields the 11th Armoured car regiment has been dealt a terrible blow. Only in 3 days running of June 18th, 19th and 20th over 1 thousand GIs were killed, over 224 US military vehicles destroyed including 171 tanks and armoured cars.
Demand your immediate home return!
Long Khanh Liberation Armed Forces.
Were the NLF leaflets effective? Statistics seem to indicate that they were not. Martin F. Herz wrote leaflets for the United States during World War II. After the war, he became an authority and wrote numerous articles on the subject. He authored "VC/NVA Propaganda Leaflets Addressed to U.S. Troops: Some Reflections," in Orbis, winter 1978.
Considering the large number of American soldiers who served in South Vietnam, the number that surrendered or were captured by the enemy is surprisingly small. Almost all U.S. prisoners of war were airplane and helicopter pilots or personnel riding in helicopters. Only about 100 American soldiers were apprehended in action on the ground, and fewer than a half-dozen are known to have deserted to the enemy."
He ends the article with:
In sum, while North Vietnam and its Viet Cong arm won the war, and while their psychological warfare efforts must not be underestimated, it can be seen that VC/NVA propaganda addressed to U.S. troops suffered from some shortcomings...but when considering the examples...it must be borne in mind that propaganda addressed to American troops made up only a very small fraction of the total Communist propaganda disseminated there. In my opinion, the decisive battle for "minds and hearts" took place in the United States and not in Vietnam. VC/NVA propaganda was more effective when addressed to Americans in America than when addressed to Americans in Vietnam.
So, who won the war in
? The Americans often say that they never lost a major battle and they have a valid point. They also like to point out that when they left in 1973, Vietnam was secure and independent. A bumper sticker seen on many Vietnam veterans cars says We were winning when I left. It was a good two years later that the Communists took power. Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh sends his Troops a Personal Tet Greeting in 1968
Tet Greeting From Chairman Ho
This New Year will be better than past new years
Victory and good news will sweep the nation
South and North vie with one another in fighting the Americans
Advance - total victory is ours
Ho Chi Minh
Young men in North Vietnam had a slogan too, Born in the North to die in the South. They saw their friends marching off, never to return, and knew that if sent South, the odds were very good that they were going to die. During their great victory of Tet 1968, 32,000 Guerrillas were killed and another 5,800 captured. The Viet Cong was virtually put out of business in a single prolonged battle. During the course of the War, General Giap said that 500,000 of his troops were killed in the fighting. In April 1995,
admitted that the actual number was 1.1 million men killed. The Hanoi lost 58,209 men. It would seem to be an American victory, except that South Vietnam did eventually fall so I think we must say that through patience, propaganda, subterfuge and the support of Russia, China and the Soviet Bloc, North Vietnam was the winner of the war. United States
Viet Cong Propaganda floated to American Troops
The Viet Cong had no air force or ability to disseminate leaflets over a wide area to a targeted group of American soldiers. They did the simple and most cost-free methods. They would simply throw handfuls of leaflets into streams that moved toward the Americans knowing that curious soldiers would pick them up and read them. Here, some Americans from what appears to be a Patrol Boat Riverine (PBR) collect VC leaflets to bring back to headquarters.
Viet Cong Propaganda Painted, Burnt or Carved into Trees
I have seen propaganda disseminated in just about every way you can imagine. I have seen it painted or placed on the wall as graffiti, or pasted on a wall like a poster, but never painted, burnt or carved into a tree. Many such trees were found around Viet Cong base camps when overrun by American troops. Above we depict several examples found in a camp near Song Be. The first alludes to the propaganda showing Americans setting fire to Vietnamese huts and says:
Dont burn our house, Peace for Vietnam
The second asks that the soldier:
Require to be sent home
It does not explain exactly how the soldier is to do that. Specialist Five Dave Berry of the 2/28th Infantry Black Lions said that the combat photographer who took that photo, Specialist Four Verland Gilbertson, was killed in the battle. The film was recovered afterward.
Fakes and Counterfeits
A word of warning; many counterfeits of these Viet Cong leaflets exist. I ask the reader to look carefully at the genuine leaflets we have depicted. Notice that they are on crude paper, often just typewritten and seldom in color. The counterfeits are usually on modern paper or cardboard, better printed, and often in multiple colors. EBay abounds in fakes. Perhaps as many as 80% of the alleged Viet Cong leaflets offered for auction are modern reproductions or fantasies.Leaflets that should be crude and discolored are printed in full color on high quality pristine paper or cardboard. These can be identified as frauds because the color and quality of the leaflet is far beyond anything that the National Liberation Front or Viet Cong could produce 40 years ago. Curiously, all of the frauds are in mint condition, and many feature nudes, or identify specific units such as the "Green Berets," the Navy "SEALs," or divisions and regiments. Martin Herz says that after studying Viet Cong leaflets for several years, he saw just one "rather timid" attempt to exploit the sexual frustration of American GIs. Strangely, hundred of such leaflets have been offered for sale in the last year or two, almost 35 years after the end of the war. The beautiful wallet-sized leaflets bearing the unit insignia of almost every military organization to pass through Vietnam during the war, in full color and mint condition are obviously made to entice the veterans of those units to buy the fraudulent leaflet as a souvenir of their service. A Vietnam leaflet should only be purchased from an individual who either brought it back himself, or is able to identify and vouch for the person who did so.
Fake Leaflet Addressed to the 4th Infantry Division.
Examine this fake leaflet addressed to the 4th Infantry Division. The ink is clear and shiny. The paper is pristine. In fact, a genuine leaflet was copied on a cream-colored paper and cut to size.
Fake "What For?" Leaflet
The fakers took the genuine NLF leaflet "What for?" that was originally produced in color and photocopied it in black and white. This leaflet was actually sold through the mail.
Fake Reward Poster
This poster offers rewards for a Green Beret (they much prefer to be called "Special Forces" since a beret is a hat) who will give intelligence or train the VC. Note that they will secretly meet in the Venus Bar. Do you suppose there will be CID agents in that bar looking for suspicious "Green Beanies?"
Fake Wanted Poster
A more recent fake that is becoming prevalent on Internet auction sites is a Viet Cong wanted poster with all Vietnamese text except for the name of a
serviceman in English. The poster depicts a photograph of the named individual. U. S.
Sometimes the fake posters are all in Vietnamese to look like a message from the Viet Cong to the South Vietnamese soldiers. The funny part is that the text is unreadable. Since they think an American will buy the item as a war souvenir and cant read it anyway, why go to the trouble of paying someone for a proper message. My translators laugh at the posters and tell me they make no sense. Several just refused and said they could not make heads or tails of the text. Another gave it a shot and then told me:
It has not just one mistake of using wrong words or few misspellings. It's a combination of gibberish put together to look like Vietnamese. Imagine something like: Kime bake to youre famylee and you weel injoin unpresident hapines in the demokratik Vietnam.
A Pair of Fake Carlos Hathcock Wanted Posters
The fakers are not stupid. Everyone has heard the story that the famous sniper Carlos Hathcock had a price placed on his head by the Viet Cong. He was a United States Marine Corps sniper with a service record of 93 confirmed kills. Hathcock's record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the U.S. Marine Corps. Why not make a poster for him? The Americans will love it! The item on the left was sent to me by a young man who owned it and wanted to know more about it. We have translated a good deal of it. The fake on the right is very similar to the first one, except that instead of using his name, the fakers have used his nickname, “White Feather.” Some of the comments by people who saw this one on the left using the name “Carlos Hathcock” are:
The Vietnamese is not entirely gibberish, I can guess how most of it is supposed to read, but the spelling is atrocious (the kind of spelling mistakes that Vietnamese would not make), the tone marks are all screwed up, and it just generally shouts “Fake.” I have seen fakes that make exactly the same mistakes and that look they were printed using the same method, either printing or software, as this one. My guess is that the person who put this together probably copied some Vietnamese phrases that he had seen or that someone had given to him, but he got it wrong. Whoever did this was not Vietnamese, although he may have some basic knowledge of Vietnamese. The following is what I think some of the Vietnamese text was supposed to be:
Reward for Guerrilla Militia Soldiers for Determined to Win
Reward for Accomplishment
Resistance against the American Imperialists
Someone with whom we cannot live under the same sky with
Wear the Same Sky as Us
This last section of the phrase does not make sense when separated from the rest of the phrase, as it is here. A Vietnamese friend agrees:
The words are Vietnamese but together they are incoherent. The bottom part is the best as it reads almost like a slogan: “The invading American bandits are our enemy, with which we don't share the sky” (A Vietnamese phrase), but later it repeated: “Share the sky!” which is laughable.
Fake Unit Reward Leaflets
Fake Reward Card for 101st Airborne
Fake Reward Card for 82nd Airborne
Fake Reward Card for 1st Cavalry
Notice that these leaflets exist for almost every unit that passed through Vietnam during the entire length of the war. Isn't that convenient?
Another Fake Reward Card
Fake Calendar for 1st Cavalry
Above is a sample of a fake calendar allegedly made by the VC. The seller on eBay claimed to have most months and years, available as well as calendars for several different units.
Fake Sex Leaflets
Most veterans never saw a sex leaflet in Vietnam. The expert Martin Herz admits to seeing a "timid one." Depicted above are a few of literally hundreds of leaflets showing nude women that are now being offered to buyers as genuine Viet Cong propaganda. Herz, who was a chief leaflet writer of the Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF during WWII mentions the Viet Cong use of sex in propaganda in an article entitled "Lessons from VC/NVA Propaganda." He says:
Sex is ineffective as a theme. Sex as a theme addressed to American troops suggested itself to the NVA/VC just as it suggested itself to the Germans and Japanese in WWII. It did not work and must have been quickly abandoned, for I have seen only one example in an extensive collection of enemy leaflets. We, on our side, learned the same lesson, but had to learn it again and again, since some of our commanders seemed reluctant to believe that the prudish VC/NVA couldnt be influenced by such appeals.
I did some research on where this junk was coming from. Thousands of such fake leaflets and posters are regularly offered on auction sites and the average soldier stationed in Vietnam might see just one or two enemy leaflets in a one-year tour if he was lucky. A single genuine Viet Cong leaflet is worth about $20 and up, but the fakes are listed at $5 each, and often can be bought in sets of 100, 250 or 500. The leaflets were originally offered in a 22 May 1985 letter from a Jonathan White at 13/3 Sui Ruam Rudee, Bangkok, Thailand. An auction buyer of the leaflets went to this address in July 2011 hoping to get his money back and told me:
The address does not exist and I don't think it ever did.
The original source in Thailand claimed that he had over 10,000 Viet Cong leaflets in ten boxes acquired from a sergeant named Ray Green attached to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) who simply smuggled them out of Vietnam after the war. They were purchased by a Brad Peterson of Illinois who then wrote a self-published booklet entitled Paper Tigers the Propaganda of the Vietnam War that catalogued all of the leaflets, placed them into sets and priced them. Peterson began selling the leaflets on EBay, and now many of his buyers are reselling them. In 2012, one of his Paper Tiger booklets was offered for auction on EBay estimated at $27 with the description:
A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item (including handmade items). Brad Petersen Catalog of NVA, Viet Cong and American propaganda leaflets and Trail/Death Cards that were used during the Vietnam War. Picture examples are given of most all the known items used by both sides. Booklet is a study compiled by Brad Peterson with cooperation of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers as well as American Military Intelligence.
I have never met a single veteran who saw one of these in Vietnam, but they are still being offered on the auction sites every day. Buyer beware!
A retired Army PSYOP officer who served in SOG told me:
I looked up Ray Green in both my Who's Who from MACV-SOG and my Membership Directory for The Special Operations Association. I find no reference to a Ray Green.
That doesnt mean that Ray Green was not a member of SOG, it does mean that he is not found in any of the official directories.
A Retired PSYOP Major told me:
It is ludicrous to believe that the Viet Cong had the capability to make thousands of these multi-color leaflets. I have never seen any of Peterson's leaflets in any collection of enemy propaganda, private or museum. I have studied the collections at the Special Warfare Museum at Ft. Bragg and the Army's Military History Institute at Carlisle and have never seen any of Peterson's leaflets. Anyone with basic computer skills could download photos of naked Asian women off of the internet and with Photoshop or a similar program easily create the "leaflets" which he has for sale.
A retired Master Sergeant who did four tours in Intelligence in Vietnam said:
I have been writing to the people who buy from him and resell them on eBay. I have gotten rid of at least a dozen resellers for him. He responded to my emails at first but when I asked for proof, he stopped writing to me. I actually knew one man he used on a leaflet and he was never assigned to the unit he was claiming on the card!
Even the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC, found some of these fakes in its collection prior to opening a new 2012 exhibit about American captives of the Viet Cong. Luckily they checked the fake leaflets out in advance and pulled them from the exhibit.
The privately published Brad Peterson book Paper Tigers the Propaganda of the Vietnam War was actually listed as a reference for one college course for a brief time. The instructor told me: It was one of many suggested resource booklets for a particular part of my course. After investigation, the book was crossed out and the warning: The authenticity of the included material is in question was added.
The book has some genuine information and this gives the initial impression that it is a legitimate reference. There are about 37 pages of genuine information and about 64 pages describing the dubious cardboard leaflets. It mentions 250 variations of American double-sided trail cards, and 160 variations of single-sided trail cards. It then says there are 306 different Viet Cong defection cards, and 136 X-rated sexual cards. It claims the Viet Cong printed 200 death cards with 100 printed showing small elite units. It ends with the statement that there are 300 North Vietnamese Army defection cards, 300 cards showing girls and 200 death cards. I am not going to try to add them all up, and I probably missed a bunch, but the total of these lovely little colored cards seems to be about 2,000 in all, and I must tell you that I have talked to dozens of Vietnam War Intelligence and PSYOP people and I have never found a single one that saw even a single such card in Vietnam. These cards are offered on EBay all the time and if some collector wants to complete a collection of them at about $5.99 a pop he will be spending about $11,980. On any given day on EBay you will find maybe three dozen of the cardboard leaflets.
Many sellers still use the Peterson book as a reference. I note one found on a Google search:
This is a Vietnamese flyer that was used in the villages & jungles where U.S. forces were known to operate This flyer is from the Brad Peterson collection. Peterson is the author of the book "Paper Tigers", considered the bible of VC/NVA propaganda used during the war.
In truth there is no Bible of Vietnam War PSYOP. The best and most authoritative book is Robert W. Chandlers War of Ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1981. Caveat emptor!
In ending, I should point out that over the years I have received numerous complaints about these fake Peterson cards. The most recent said in part:
I recently purchased a couple of "Trail/Death" Cards from the Brad Peterson collection from a seller on eBay. They took about a week or so to arrive, but I immediately noticed something wasn't quite right about them when I had them in my hands. I contacted the seller telling him I don't believe they're authentic as described and the images on the back are pixelated (something I thought was a modern problem). He then claims he's a combat disabled veteran and offers to remedy any problems to make sure the purchase experience is a completely satisfactory one. I tell him I am not satisfied and he ends the conversation without offering me any recourse. I wish I had stumbled on your page before I bothered with the listing.
Well, the funny thing is that they are interesting as conversation pieces. The real VC leaflets are rare and costly. This crap you can buy sometimes in groups of 200 or 500 and that alone shows what garbage it is. However, I love the idea that the crooks prepared them with every unit patch in the US Army so that anyone who was in the war in any unit no matter how obscure will want one as a souvenir. Then they did over 100 pornographic cards and God knows men like naked women. Then they did reward posters with a fake gibberish text that looks like Vietnamese knowing that Americans cannot read it anyway. As thieves, they were kind of genius. They hit all the right spots to make people send checks.
The Americans catalogue Viet Cong Leaflets
Because the only way to beat your enemy is to know your enemy, the American PSYOP forces kept very detailed files on Viet Cong propaganda leaflets. Unfortunately, these files are all text so there is not much in the way of images to be added here. I have several such files and will mention some of the more interesting data, although I would have liked to have some samples to depict.
National Liberation Front Propaganda
This file was prepared by the United States Information Service in Saigon in February 1963, and records 596 different Viet Cong propaganda leaflets found in 1962. I cannot mention all of the leaflets listed, but I will select eight that show the scope of the enemy propaganda and the variety of themes. The Catalog explains:
The Communist material was analyzed in an effort to gain a more thorough knowledge of the Communist apparatus in South Vietnam, The National Liberation Front, as well as greater insight into the mystique of the Vietnamese Communist.
What is interesting is that there were so few Americans in Vietnam at the time, mostly just advisors. But, the VC has already realized the importance of turning the population against the United States. I was also surprised at how many black items there were, pamphlets disguised as cultural writings, poems or song books with hidden VC messages inside. The numbers below are catalog numbers. Some of the more interesting items are:
VC 17. A poem titled A Mothers Words. It was ostensibly written by a mother about her son in the army. It stresses the folly of her son fighting for the government. It indirectly urges desertion. [Curiously, the U.S. was preparing similar poems with the Mother in North Vietnam asking her son to come home].
VC 105. A black pamphlet with a false cover. The cover is titled: Profound Love for the Country A Modern Theatrical Play. This patriotic play is well known and had played in Saigon. Inside the booklet were three short stories, all anti-American.
VC 112. A leaflet attacking the strategic hamlet program. It says that the basic purpose of the strategic hamlet is population control. It cites examples of hamlet dwellers that have destroyed their hamlets and urges everyone to do the same.
VC 155. A black booklet that appears to be a song book but instead contains a letter from Congo leader Patrice Lumumba in which he attacks Belgian colonialism. [Lumumba would be killed by Congo nationalists].
VC 174. A leaflet titled Smash the Ape Heads! It says, If the Americans do not pay taxi fare, beat them. If they shamelessly tease our women, beat them. They are as big as water buffaloes, but we are more numerous.
VC 202. A leaflet entitled Death Sentence that is a blank form sentencing a person for death for opposing the National Liberation Front Army. The document was meant for the VC to fill in the name of the person selected.
VC 254. Leaflet with false cover Three Unified Religions. The leaflet is actually a safe conduct pass for ARVN soldiers that explains how to defect and guarantees their safety.
VC 255. A 16-page false booklet entitled How to Handle Manure. Inside is a long propaganda message attacking the government and the U.S. and asks that the people and Army turn on the Diem government.
VC 298. A fake religious leaflet entitled Way to Salvation with a church and cross on the cover. Inside is A Wreathe of Thanks, a story about the heroic deeds of a guerilla in Vinh Long province.
VC 374. A leaflet to the native Montagnards that asserts the United States and Vietnamese government is selling the nations forests, forcing highlanders to serve as coolies, and mistreating the tribesmen.
VC 504. Booklet for An Xuyen with fake title Son of the Native Village. Inside are statements by the Communist hierarchy on basic Liberation Front policies.
VC 509. A cartoon showing President Diem selling half of our precious country to his masters, the Americans.
VC 511. Leaflet listing alleged atrocity statistics. 100,000 people killed. 500,000 beaten and disabled
VC 561. A fake Long An leaflet entitled Music of Vietnam that actually is an explanation of the VC policy towards enlisted men and officers. Anyone who deserts will be welcomed with open arms and receive good treatment.
The Hanoi Propaganda Magazine Vietnam Youth
Another file is entitled: A Summary of Viet Cong Leaflets, March through May 1964. The 14-page report explains:
This paper is the fourth summary of a series, and is based on an analysis of 418 Viet Cong leaflets. The leaflets were found in 26 provinces. 27% of the leaflets were signed by the National Liberation Front, 25% by the NLF Central Committee, 3% by the NLF Army, 2% by the NLF Youth Association, 2% by Religious groups and 2% by NLF Women, Workers, or Student Associations. The rest were anonymous and unsigned.
The targets were 45% military and paramilitary personnel, 37% the general public,7% general subjects (libraries, small business, students, etc.), 4% Government officials and civil servants, 4% Americans (English language), 1% Religious groups (Catholics, Buddhists), and 0.5% Cambodians
Another file in my possession lists Viet Cong propaganda found by US troops from 1963 to 1966 by theme or subject in alphabetical order. It is simply a list of subjects with file numbers so an intelligence officer could see what the VC said on a specific subject. I will just depict the letter C since the subject has no images:
Communism Communist Party
Communist Youth League
Counter-intelligence and espionage Crop protection.
These eight subjects can be found in 25 listed files.
We have illustrated only a sampling of the many National Liberation Front leaflets. The author is always interested in hearing about others that were brought back from Vietnam. Interested readers are encouraged to write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.