SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)


AnKheSep65.jpg (60360 bytes)

Anh Khe, September 1965

The 19th PSYOP Company was activated at Ft. Bragg as part of the 3rd Special Forces Group on 10 August 1962. The first Commander was Captain Blaine Revis. In July 1965, Revis was asked to form the 24th PSYOP Detachment and deploy to Vietnam assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Division at Anh Khe. The 24th PSYOP Detachment was formed from personnel of the 1st and 13th PSYOP Battalion assigned to the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, NC. The unit, consisting of six officers and 24 enlisted, was formed, trained and deployed to Vietnam in just two weeks. The detachment arrived in Vietnam in September 1965 and assigned to support the 1st Cavalry Division G5 Section at Anh Khe. The Section was understaffed for communicating with the Vietnamese populace and the laborers who would prepare the base for the arrival of aircraft. It soon became apparent that the Cavalry Division had no interest in PSYOP support, so Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) ordered the detachment moved in November 1965 to Nha Trang as part of the II Corps Operations section (G3). The detachment participated directly in attack planning which included control of civilians caught in the battlefield field of fire. On one major campaign called "Operation Eagle Claw" in the Bong Son Valley, the 24th POD helped to relocate 5,000 refugees onto a temporary site and supply them with tents and food for over a month. They supported operations in the Bong Son Valley on at least three separate occasions and dropped millions of leaflets each time. The detachment had loudspeaker teams in the field with Vietnamese linguists to call upon the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong units to surrender. They had one truck with a printing press and produced a limited number of propaganda leaflets, but the majority of leaflets were printed and flown in from Japan. Some members were assigned to Korean military units, other to the 101st Airborne Division. The USAF 5th Air Commando Squadron was formed to support the unit. In February 1966, the 24th was re-designated the 245th PSYOP Company and became responsible for PSYOP in II Corps. 

The 25th PSYOP Detachment was Commanded by CPT William R. Perry and made up of seven officers and 15 enlisted men. In 1965 it was deployed to Southeast Asia from San Francisco on the USNS Hugh J. Gaffney along with elements of the United States Army 1st Cavalry Division. I had sailed on the same ship 10 years earlier on my way to the Far East. Anti-war protestors pelted the troop ship as it sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. The Detachment ran the ship’s radio station on the 17-day voyage. The Gaffney docked at Qui Nhon in September of 1965. The unit was immediately trucked to an air strip where they were flown to Pleiku by C-123 and headquartered in an old French compound at the II Corps MACV headquarters north of Pleiku while a permanent barracks was built for them.

2592FVN.jpg (131043 bytes)  2592bVN.jpg (247846 bytes)

Leaflet 25-19-68

Leaflets from the 25th PSYOP Detachment are very rare. This is one of the few I have ever seen. The detachment would soon be changed to the 245th PSYOP Company. Notice the leaflet above bears the number 2592 on the front. That is a number and image normally used by the Joint United States Public Affairs Office. I have seen it used on a postcard and on another leaflet with a different text. The front depicts a charging ARVN soldier and the text: We are determined to defend the nation. The 25th PSYOP Detachment “borrowed” the image, and placed their message and code number on the back of the leaflet. Why it is dated 1968 is a mystery. The owner was a member of the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi and Tay Ninh in 1969. He found the leaflet during a visit to the Military Intelligence Detachment.

The introduction of the 25th PSYOP Detachment into the Central Highlands of Vietnam at Pleiku in September 1965 coincided with the buildup of 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) at An Khe just to the East. The mission of the detachment was to collect intelligence regarding enemy weaknesses and vulnerabilities, develop themes and materials to exploit these vulnerabilities, and disseminate appeals and messages via leaflet, loudspeaker and other means. The detachment had highly trained PSYOP officers and enlisted men who had specific expertise in psychological operations, counter insurgency, media development, graphic design, leaflet production, audio production, photography, and other selected skills.

The unit’s primary mission was to support the American and South Vietnamese troops in the II corps geographical area with PSYOP capabilities to include leaflet production, Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) field trips, movies and operations in friendly Montagnard villages. Members of the unit were with the 1st Cavalry in November 1965 at the battle of Ia Drang.

732069VNF.jpg (51509 bytes)  732068VNB.jpg (91129 bytes)

Montagnard Leaflet 7-320-69

The Montagnards mentioned above were a native people looked down upon by the Vietnamese. Both the Republic of Viet Nam and the Viet Cong persecuted them. Many of the natives were forced into the Viet Cong to carry supplies and do other laborer-type work. The above leaflet is one of a series that was prepared without text since many of the Montagnards were illiterate. The front of this airdropped 3x6-inch leaflet depicts a native with the Viet Cong who finds a Chieu Hoi leaflet and then surrenders to a government soldier. On the back of the leaflet the soldier has his arm around the Montagnard in a friendly manner, and in the final drawing the native is home with his wife and children.

I was rewatching the old 1968 John Wayne Movie the Green Berets recently and there was a scene where Wayne talked to a local Montagnard village chief and was told why they came to the American camp for medical aid. He said:

Papers fall from the sky. Papers say white men, long nose, round eyes, called Americans, help Montagnard’s, but VC say our papers lie.

The military booklet: BUILDING BRIDGES: Commander’s Guide to Face to Face Communication mentions illiterates. It says in part:

Do not exclude the use of printed materials. Photo-novels, comic books, and wall posters using graphics and very few words can convey a message. Posters for non-literate and partially literate audience should have as little written text as possible and should consider the visual literacy of the target audience. Before large quantities of any printed visual communication materials are produced, graphics and artwork should be pretested-on a sample audience and changes incorporated into the final products. It is not unusual to find that an audience’s perception of the ideas being presented is entirely different, even opposite, from what was intended. Visual communication materials for rural audiences should incorporate images that reflect the local culture and landscape.

The same topic is discussed in the U.S. Army Special Warfare School Report Propaganda Media.

The first thing that comes to mind of most people when the subject of communication with non-literate audience is mentioned, it that printed media cannot be used. The problem is then identified as that of developing communication using audio-visual media which do not involve the written word…Non-literate people think differently than literates…They have grown to view the environment in a different manner. About 60 to 80 percent of the countries where technical assistance programs are functioning are illiterate. Non-literate people are for the most part extremely conservative. They are characterized by a high resistance to change of the status quo. Generally speaking, the vocabulary of these people is limited. Ideas presented to non-literates must be clear and specific.

The lesson goes on the recommend the following means of communication: face-to-face, radio, films, and television.

RoglaiImageVN.jpg (147447 bytes)

A Leaflet in the Tribal Roglai Language

Speaking of Montagnards, here is a leaflet with Vietnamese on one side and Roglai on the other. The Roglai are found in Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong provinces, in the mountains west and south of Nha Trang; some near Dalat. Their autonym is Radlai, which means “forest people.” They are an ethnic community, part of the Montagnard, traditionally Christian. This leaflet depicts two tribesmen talking:


I have heard that about 200,000 highlanders have rallied to the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. My family is going to side with the government. Do you want to go with us?

Yes. The Viet Cong are very cruel. Many Roglai people have gone to the Government of the Republic of Vietnam side. Let’s report to a South Vietnam Army unit!

There was a great deal of effort put into gaining the trust of the Montagnards. Montagnard is an umbrella term for the various indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The French term Montagnard signifies a mountain dweller and is a carryover from the French colonial period in Vietnam. The Montagnard tribes in the Central Highlands comprise more than six different ethnic groups who speak languages such as Bahnar, Mnong, and Sedang and speakers of Austronesian languages such as the Jarai, Roglai, and Rhade. They were natural fighters and loyal and trustworthy. I have seen dozens of comments of recruiting the Montagnards. Two that come to mind were written in March 1971.

A combined 23rd Infantry Division and PSYOP campaign successfully brought in 58 Montagnard Hoi Chanh in a two-week period. The Hre were being pressed by the Viet Cong to move to the coastal areas to bolster local VC forces. Safe conduct passes were dropped, and aerial broadcast conducted in this area brought in additional ralliers.

Over 30,000 leaflets were printed in both Rhade and Vietnamese and distributed throughout Darlac Province.

A Leaflet for Montagnards that do not read

This very early JUSPAO leaflet has a code, but it is unreadable. I suspect it might be SP-825 or SP-925, and normally I would check my files for such a leaflet, but the files are not complete when it comes to early leaflets. They are more complete once we get to the 1,500s or so. The front of the leaflet shows the mountain people being held captive by Viet Cong troops as can be seen by the flag at the left. The people are sick and suffering but the Viet Cong show no interest in helping them. The back depicts the flag of the Republic of Vietnam, and we see three panels of doctors treating, medicating, and healing Montagnard women, men, and children. The meaning is clear. Come over to our side and receive good medical care and be warmly welcomed.

The lowland ethnic Vietnamese used the insulting term Moi, meaning “savage” and treated the mountain people with contempt. U.S. Special Forces simply called them Yards, a term of respect. After 1962, Special Forces in the Republic of Vietnam were increasingly deployed in the highlands to work with the Montagnards. Vietnam contained between 600,000 to 1,000,000 Montagnards comprising twenty-nine tribal groups, most of whom hated the lowland Vietnamese and the Republic of Vietnam in the south almost as much as they despised the Communist-led North Vietnam. I have read that the Montagnards might have lost as many as 250,000 members fighting for the United States. The two largest tribes were the Rhade and Jarai.

81224668FMon.jpg (418022 bytes)

81224668BMon.jpg (324157 bytes)

Leaflet 8(1)2-246-68

One side of this 5 August 1968, 8th PSYOP Battalion leaflet to the native Montagnard tribes of Vietnam depicts the Viet Cong forcing them to work, then an ARVN helicopter coming to their village and giving them food and medical aid. In the last panel the natives return to friendly territory and a big welcome as shown by the Republic of Vietnam flag and the waving soldiers. There is no text so it was not necessary for the natives to be literate.

The other side of the leaflet depicts a Vietnamese Field Combat Policeman (we identify him by the camouflage pattern of his uniform) giving rice to a native woman while others, including children await their turn.

81224668OrigPhoto.jpg (288065 bytes)

The Original Photograph

This leaflet was sent to me by Richard  N. Levine who was a Specialist 4th Grade (SP4) photographer (MOS 84B20), assigned to Company A, in Nha Trang, from March 1968 to December 1969. He shot the picture in the field by a primary school and later placed it on the leaflet. Curiously, the photograph shows the women fully dressed, but the leaflet cartoon has them bare breasted and the men in loincloths.

There were numerous indigenous tribes in Vietnam and for the most part they considered themselves victims of the Vietnamese and united in 1962 to form a United Front of Struggle for the Oppressed Race. Under French rule, the Vietnamese and the Montagnards were kept separated and had little interaction. U.S. propaganda always tried to bring them back to the government and also asked their people to volunteer as soldiers in some areas. Some of the Montagnard tribes in the “Front” are: Cham, Rhade, Jarai, Jru, Raglai, Chauma, Bishrue, Bahnar, Sedang, Hre, Kebuan, Hadrung, Mnong, Stieng, and Khymer-Krom.

245N4967.jpg (37416 bytes)

Leaflet 245N-49-67

One of the more attractive leaflets produced by the 245th PSYOP Company depicts a soldier of the Republic of Vietnam riding on horseback carrying the flag of his nation and trampling the communist flag. The picture is very heroic in a traditional military manner. The text on the back of the leaflet is:

Citizens Living in this Area Please Take Notice.

Don't Run, Don't Hide

Don't run and don't hide from the Allied military forces patrolling on the ground or above you in helicopters. Stay where you are until you receive further instructions. You will be told what to do. If you follow instructions you will not be harmed.

Notice the “N” in the code. Since the 245th PSYOP Company was in two locations, they added the letter to show that it was produced in Nha Trang.

We should point out that this image was so strong that it was used about a half dozen times on leaflets. 200,000 copies of this image were placed on a December 1966 leaflet by JUSPAO entitled “Message from the Province Chief.” The message on the back is long so I will just quote a small portion.


Once again our Tet is coming and arousing our love for our ancestors. Together with all our compatriots in the National Zones I welcome the New Year in a comfortable family atmosphere, but I am anxious about the fate of our compatriots in the areas temporarily held by the Viet Cong. I think especially of all our brothers and sisters who have been forced by the Viet Cong, who use the name South Vietnam National Liberation Front, into a meaningless war.

During many long years you have never enjoyed the wonder of our traditional Tet! The Viet Cong squeeze the countryside in resentment, hatred, and murder. They have brought to you countless hardships in this internecine strife. Gun-fire surrounds you; you live in mud and filth; and you are always hungry and cold. What a pity that you can never be properly treated when you are ill. You live in darkness and pain day after day.

The military and civil authorities on every level, including the Allied Armed Forces, have been instructed to warmly welcome you back to your Fatherland and to give you all the aid and assistance necessary.

7622245fVN.jpg (151608 bytes)

Leaflet 76-2-245(P)

The front depicts U.S. aircraft which appear to be Navy FJ-4F Fury fighter-bombers attacking the Viet Cong both day and night. The Fury was an extensively modified ground attack version of the F-86 that the Navy put into service after the Korean War as a light attack aircraft operating from aircraft carriers. It was flown by Marine pilots and saw limited service in Vietnam and parts of Laos. It was replaced in Navy service by the A-4 Skyhawk attack bomber, which saw extensive service throughout the Vietnam War. The leaflet text is:

During the day you are not safe

At night you are even more terrified

The back is all text:

Save Yourselves!

-The Army of the Republic of Vietnam will severely punish anyone who disrupts the security and safety of the people.

-Your only chance of survival is to rally and be reunited with your families.

First Lieutenant Bob Harvey of the 25th PSYOP Detachment (later Detachment B of the 245th PSYOP Company) reminisces about his Vietnam duty from September 1965 to September 1966:

Captain Perry was a good Commanding Officer of the Pleiku Detachment for the period he was with us, about September 1965 to June 1966. We all had a lot of respect and admiration for him.   He was part Apache Indian and part German. He was a real Regular Army trooper, an infantry officer with a Combat Infantry Badge. The PSYOP command was not for him. He petitioned to get out in the bush and engage the enemy. He finally got transferred down south to a combat unit and was replaced by Captain Henry (Lee) Dunn, a nice guy from Wyoming who was the Commander from about July 1966.

The introduction of the 25th PSYOP Detachment into the Central Highlands of Vietnam at Pleiku in September 1965 coincided with the buildup of 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) at An Khe just to the East.  The mission of the detachment was to collect intelligence regarding enemy weaknesses and vulnerabilities, develop themes and materials to exploit these vulnerabilities, and disseminate appeals and messages via leaflet, loudspeaker and other means.  The detachment had highly trained PSYOP officers and enlisted men who had specific expertise in psychological operations, counter insurgency, media development, graphic design, leaflet production, audio production, photography, and other selected skills.

The specific missions planned and executed by the unit included imbedded field teams to collect information relative to enemy vulnerabilities and develop and disseminate propaganda to their soldiers.  Aerial loudspeaker and leaflet missions flown in U-10, C-47 and UH-1 aircraft were conducted throughout the major campaigns, and leaflet missions over the tri-country border area (infiltration trails) were commonplace.

The first major ground operation was a field team comprised of one PSYOP Officer and two support  specialists from the 25th Detachment, and one Vietnamese interpreter.   This team was attached to the 1st Cavalry during the Ia Drang campaign (November 1965) and was able to ascertain NVA vulnerabilities as the basis for PSYOP efforts in the II Corps border area throughout the remainder of 1965.

With the introduction of elements of the 25th and 4th Infantry Divisions into the Central Highlands in 1966, the Detachment (now redesignated 245th PSYOP Company “Detachment B”) participated in numerous campaigns and sweeps of known enemy locations for the purpose of exploiting troop weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Many of these brigade size campaigns were staged out of the large open fields in and around Pleiku, with New Pleiku Airbase (USAF), Camp Hollaway (US ARMY AIR), and the MACV II Corps Headquarters providing support.  The Detachment’s production facility, located at the MACV compound, was able to react quickly to the latest intelligence, and develop/produce PSYOP media and material in support of field operations.

Generally, the detachment developed and produced much of its own material, however, major leaflet drops (most along the Cambodian border) of thousands of pounds of leaflets by C-47 required leaflets to be produced at Battalion in Saigon or in Manila.  These were shipped to New Pleiku Airbase by transport for loading into the C-47 following its arrival from its base in Nha Trang.

WGroom.jpg (73806 bytes)

Lieutenant Winston Groom

Second Lieutenant Winston Groom talks about his activities during the early days of the Vietnam War with the 245th PSYOP Company:

I brought over a detachment of about 30 men out of the Psywar Company at Ft. Bragg in mid-June, 1966. We boarded the U.S.S. Gaffney for the long trip over. Upon arrival, I went several weeks without a specific assignment while I studied the local operations, but nobody in command seemed to know exactly what we were supposed to do.

One morning I was suddenly told to get my stuff together because they had a job for me. When I got to headquarters Major Piragowski told me I was to be the PSYOP team leader attached to the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. While I awaited the arrival of my assigned unit, I worked with the PSYOP team leader of the 101st Airborne Division brigade, which was still operational in the area. I went on missions a few times with the 101st. At this stage of the war we were hampered by bad equipment, including loudspeakers, which were WWII vintage and rarely worked. It took a one man to carry the speaker that weighed about 40+ pounds, and another to carry the batteries, which weighed about as much.

Once the 4th Infantry Division went operational, their 1st Brigade, the one I was attached to, was assigned to Tuy Hoa. The Brigade Commander Colonel Austin told me, “Well, son, whatever you do, get on with it, and we'll give you all the help you need, but just don't get in the way of our operations.” The Division let us use their chopper and U-10 light aircraft. I took part in some U-10 operations and threw out thousands of leaflets that were ordered from Saigon or Nha Trang. I had no idea what they said, because they were in Vietnamese, but was told that they were as good as anything to throw out of the plane, and that the natives in the villages liked them because they could use them for toilet paper.

During the day all the native villages and hamlets ran up a Republic of Vietnam flag and soon as night fell they took them down and ran up the Viet Cong flag. This so incensed Major Jack Lugee, a Forward Artillery Controller one early morning as he flew over a village that he swooped down and not only buzzed the village but came away with the Viet Cong flag wrapped around his landing gear.

The 245th PSYOP Company in Nha Trang continued to ship me tons of leaflets and Chieu Hoi safe conduct passes that I dropped out of the U-10 at selected coordinates based on where intelligence said there was Viet Cong activity, which for all practical purposes included the entire province. We probably could have done some good with the bullhorn if any of the battalions had been able to hold contact with the enemy long enough for us to get there. The PSYOP Team was simply too small to go out with the rifle battalions on a regular basis, and besides we had only one bullhorn that worked sporadically, no matter how many times a day I had it tested and worked on.

We did manage to get some airborne missions using loudspeaker broadcasts of tapes we had made, either with the U-10 or by requesting a C-47 out of Nha Trang. Another problem was that it was nearly impossible to interrogate prisoners to find out if any of our propaganda was working. I asked on a number of occasions if I could at least submit questions for them to ask the prisoners, but I never got a straight answer. We were working in the dark.

I next was attached to Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) on the southern edge of Tuy Hoa. I was provided with a PSYOP truck that had loudspeakers, photo equipment, and a big PSYOP logo painted on the side. I did some election work, my interpreter asking the local people to get out and vote over the loudspeaker.

bodiesVCVNOB.jpg (62474 bytes)

Photo of the 60 killed Viet Cong taken by Lieutenant Groom

Toward the end of my tour the Viet Cong attacked a Government of Vietnam Army post about six kilometers from Tuy Hoa. I rode out to the site of the battle and photographed about 60 bodies. Shortly after that I flew back to San Francisco and resumed my civilian life.

It is my considered opinion that the U.S. Army did not care at all about PSYOP at that time. If it had, it would have emphasized comprehensive training and positioned competent intelligence officers in the slots, and they would have kept at least some kind of tabs on what was going on; provided advice, help, and decent equipment.

Election Propaganda Verboten!

Notice that Bloom mentioned doing some election work with a loudspeaker above. In recent wars the United States has been very active in advertising elections and nation building. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they watched the elections as people dipped a finger in ink to make sure they only voted once, and then produced leaflets showing the inked fingers. It was different in Vietnam. The U.S. was apparently so afraid of being seen taking part in politics and favoring one side over the other that no election leaflets were allowed to be printed. My files show a leaflet coded 4442 was prepared to be disseminated. Some of the text was:


The presidential election of 3 August has met with brilliant success in all the Republic of Vietnam. 94.3% of the electors have voted confidence in the Democratic side of Nguyen Van Thieu and Tran Van Huong. This result shows the united spirit of the people and army of the Republic of Vietnam, determining to fight against the Communist aggressors to protect the freedom and democracy of the people.

The leaflet was sent up to be vetted and approved for dissemination and apparently it was turned down. A note attached to the returned page says:

Embassy says we can NOT make leaflets about the election. I’m Sorry!

245thPleikuDetBVietnam.jpg (174992 bytes)

Detachment B (Pleiku) of the 245th PSYOP Company in spring 1967
The Detachment poses in front of the Propaganda Support Center in the ARVN Compound

Front row - left to right: SGT Mattingly (Supply), PFC Karas (Analyst), SP4 Nickerson (Broadcast Specialist/Offset pressman), SP4 Luke (Field operations), SP4 Niver (Offset pressman) and SP5 Jones (Field operations). 
Back row- left to right: SFC Davis (First Sergeant), SP4 Boothby (Press operator), CPT Dunn (Commander), SP4 Wands (Artist), CPT Brereton (Executive Officer), SP4 Keen (Artist), SP4 Johnson (Motor pool), SP5 Tiffany (Company clerk), SP4 Plemmons (Field Operations).
Missing: SP4 Bell (Overnight offset press operator)

Private Leighton M. "Nick" Nickerson arrived in Vietnam assigned to the 245th PSYOP Company on 22 July 1966. He left a year later as a Specialist 5th Class. He was first sent to Nha Trang then detached to Pleiku. He had been trained as a 71R20 Broadcast Specialist, but Pleiku had no need for that MOS and after discovering that his hobby was photography he was assigned to the photo lab. He was also trained as a printing press operator during his tour and awarded a second military occupational specialty of 71W40. He described his activities in Vietnam:

We supported the 1st Cavalry and the 4th Infantry Division with our leaflets. I never kept track of where we went and what we did but I know we did a lot of missions that had us flying over Laos and Cambodia. I know we went as far south Ban Me Thout, North to Kontum, even once to Dalat to support III Corp, and once north to Da Nang. We didn't do many loudspeaker missions from the air while I was there, and most of those were done with just Air Force personnel. We went up if there were leaflets to drop. I remember unloading an entire deuce-and-a-half of leaflets into C47's.

I flew with one Air Force Major and logged more flight time than anyone else in the unit. One day I asked why I was the only one getting requested to crew the U10's and later O2B's. He said it was because I could carry on an intelligent conversation and didn't throw up, and that second one was the most important attribute a PSYOP soldier could have.

We had a great outfit. During my tour I never heard a shot fired in anger. Of course, Charlie mortared our perimeter twice, but it was good duty until about mid-1967 when things got more "stract" and we were no longer allowed to be a bunch of "misfits" that did things our own way most of the time. I think we missed that freedom. It seems we never had the same morale or espirit de Corps after we got "militarized".

ForUncleHoChiMinh.jpg (146933 bytes)

Nick Nickerson plays Dr. Strangelove?

This was at the Bomb Dump in Pleiku; we'd get called out to pack the leaflet bombs frequently during the first few months I was there. Shades of Dr. Strangelove. We would get called out at night and go to work regardless of how we were dressed and get the job done. By the end of my tour, there is no way we would have gone on the base out-of-uniform. Early in my tour it was the mission that was important. Like I said, the misfits went to Pleiku.

KeanDrawingleaflet.jpg (68463 bytes)

Charles Kean Jr.

Specialist Fourth Class Charles Kean Jr. Was a member of the 245th PSYOP Company in Vietnam during the years 1966-1967. He was trained as a U.S. Army Illustrator (Military Occupational Specialty 81E2W). During his tour he supported the 1st Cavalry and the 4th Infantry Division. He flew many C47 leaflet missions and received an Air Crew badge for the time he spent aloft. In this photograph he is in the process of drawing a propaganda leaflet for the Vietnamese. He told me:

We mostly did specialized leaflets for tactical situations. Since we covered an area that extended from the central highlands with the Montagnards and other tribes to the sea coast, we produced leaflets covering a lot of different dialects and situations. Also we had a very quick response time. Often we were awakened in the middle of the night and hustled to our work area to produce a brand new leaflet for an ongoing battle. Sometimes it was just nuts because we would be under attack ourselves, but we drew, printed, packed the leaflets and survived.

KeanVNPainting.jpg (224067 bytes)

Painting by Charles Kean

The Painting was done from a photo while SP4 Kean was in Vietnam. He was deeply touched by the photo that depicted a Vietnamese mother killed during a firefight.

By early 1966, Army psychological operations were being carried out by the 6th PSYOP Battalion stationed in Saigon. Demand overwhelmed capability, and in December 1967 the 4th PSYOP Group was formed from the existing PSYOP battalion and its companies. Available data on military psyop unit composition and periods and places of duty are incomplete and sometimes contradictory. The following is our understanding of the order of battle of U.S. PSYOP units in Vietnam.

6thpob2.gif (8606 bytes)

6th PSYOP Battalion

6thPOBFormation.jpg (52380 bytes)

The 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam stands formation

KDEXT2bombing.jpg (16510 bytes) 

Kihn Do Theater in Saigon after the theater was blown up on 1 December 1966
(Photo courtesy of Rick Hofmann)

The small early PSYOP detachment was followed by the 6th PSYOP Battalion, a command-and-control unit under USARV Special Troops, which arrived in Vietnam from Fort Bragg on 7 February 1966. During its independent existence (until 1 December 1967) the 6th PSYOP Battalion was the US Army's primary support unit for PSYOP in Vietnam. Headquarters was initially in the Kinh Do Theater in Saigon except for the radio and TV advisors, and the printing facilities, although a lot of paper and printing supplies were stored on the first floor where the seats had been. After the theater was blown up by an estimated 50 kilograms of “plastique,” (Staff Sergeant Ron Baker told me that he believed it was a satchel charge that blew the roof off the building he called the Capitol Theater), it moved some distance away to a small, modern, three-story building near Cholon that had been an auto shop. Our next location was down by the bridge, a small Japanese warehouse compound. That remained the HQ location until they moved downtown to the railway area. In the fall of 1967, the battalion headquarters moved to the Saigon Railyards, now referred to as the Cruz Compound. The 6th PSYOP Bn operated independent of the Saigon-based Vietnam Detachment of the 7th PSYOP Group.   The 7th Group was represented at the Japanese warehouse; they had a small liaison party there, two enlisted men and one officer. At this time the printing plant was located on the Binh Loi Canal, about a block away from the last bridge before the long ride to Bien Hoa. The unit was located in the compound of the ARVN 50th POLWAR Battalion, which turned out to be built on top of an old French ammunition dump. The dump was discovered about June 1967, when excavating for the concrete pad and building to house the new 3G press. The site was moved once the dump was discovered.

6thPOBVNODPatch.gif (59310 bytes)

The crest of the 6th Battalion depicted above is very interesting because the sword in the center has flames coming from the hilt that are grey, white and black. These colors stand for the three types of information that can be transmitted; white propaganda that had the origin clearly labeled; gray propaganda is information that bears no identification and could be from friendly or enemy sources; and black propaganda is information put out by an opposing government or institution and made to look as though it came from a friendly source. It is sometimes called “dirty tricks.”

The 6th PSYOP Battalion received the following awards and campaign participation credit:

MeritoriousUnitAwardRibbon.JPG (20488 bytes)

USArmyMeritUnitCommendCR.PNG (2218 bytes)

Meritorious Unit Commendations for Vietnam 1966-1967 and Vietnam 1967-1968.

VietnamAward0X1.JPG (14601 bytes)

RepofVNCivilActionCR.PNG (7174 bytes)

The Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1967-1970

VietnamCampaignStreamerCR.PNG (2827 bytes)

Vietnam: Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase II; Counteroffensive, Phase III; Tet Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase IV; Counteroffensive, Phase V; Counteroffensive, Phase VI; Tet 69/Counteroffensive; Summer-Fall 1969; Winter-Spring 1970; Sanctuary Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase VII.


245thPSYOPSign.jpg (7813 bytes)

245th PSYOP Company HQ in Nha Trang

245thPSYOPVNPatch002.gif (96908 bytes)

On 10 February 1966, three companies were formed within the 6th PSYOP Bn to provide tactical propaganda support.

 1. The 1st PSYOP Field Support Detachment and the 27th PSYWAR Detachment merged to form the 244th PSYOP Company. The 244th PSYOP Company served I Corps from an initial station in Nha Trang (in II Corps), with a detachment in Quang Ngai in I Corps. Looking through the Detachment 2 Quang Ngai Leaflet and Poster Catalog I note that besides preparing products for American forces, they printed a large number of items for the 2nd Division of the 12th Division Tactical Area (DTA). An Army of the Republic of Vietnam DTA comprised two or more provinces; the DTA commander was also the ARVN division commander, and the DTA was his permanent Tactical Area of Responsibility.

2. The 24th PSYWAR Detachment and the 25th PSYWAR Detachment merged to form the 245th PSYOP Company. The 245th PSYOP Company served II Corps from Pleiku (in II Corps).

C47DuctDrop.jpg (36191 bytes)

LT Robert Harvey and his team from the 245th PSYOP Company drop leaflets from a C-47 Aircraft along the tri-country border (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) in an attempt to reach infiltrators coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

PSYOPS in Vietnam – Indications of Effectiveness. JUSPAO Planning Office, Saigon, Vietnam, May, 1967 mentions the 245th PSYOP Company:

From 1 January to 1 October 1966, Air Force planes dropped over one billion leaflets for the 245th PSYOP Company. Men of the 245th designed and printed over 61 million of these leaflets with their own facilities. Five thousand hours of loudspeaker missions were logged in the same period.

More than 6,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars defected in areas where the leaflets and loudspeaker missions were employed by the 245th. This was a 300% increase over the same period of the previous year.

3. The 20th PSYOP Field Support Detachment and the 26th PSYWAR Detachment merged to form the 246th PSYOP Company. The 246th PSYOP Company served III Corps from Bien Hoa, about 20 miles northeast of Saigon in III Corps.

Dave Kolchuk was a Specialist 4 (E4) with the 246th PSYOP Company of the 1st PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam from October 1965 to October 1966.  He was stationed in the “Train Compound,” an old French villa a few miles from Bien Hoa.  He was an Army Illustrator supporting III Corps. He told me:

My job was to design, and produce leaflets, flyers, and posters.   We also did public relations work for schools and hospitals. I learned enough of the language to give some translation support. Once printed, I participated in leaflet drops and loudspeaker operations on air missions with the US Air Force out of Bien Hoa Air Base. I had enough hours and missions in various aircraft to earn crewman wings from the USAF. 

ARVNOCSBook.jpg (525345 bytes)

Army of South Vietnam Officer’s Candidate School Booklet

The above booklet was produced by the 246th PSYOP Company in 1966. 30,000 copies of this 14 x 7.5-inch booklet were produced at the request of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. The cover of this booklet depicting three brave ARVN soldiers was drawn by Specialist Fourth Class Dave Kolchuk. The text on the cover is:


Monthly Publication of the Thu Duc Infantry School

The Thu Duc Infantry School was the South Vietnamese Army's officer candidate’s school.It was the training school for reserve officers, while regular army officers were trained at the Dalat Military Academy. They called it the Infantry School but it was an officer’s training school. It is interesting to note that the North Vietnamese also called their Military Academy the “Infantry School.” Perhaps a title the Vietnamese inherited from their French colonial masters in the distant past.

The 4th PSYOP Group also mentions producing booklets. For instance, in 1968, twelve propaganda and political warfare booklets were printed by the 4th and 7th PSYOP Groups, about 500,000 copies in all. The average booklet contained about 75 pages and its size was about 7 x l0-inches. The Battalions are believed to have produced about 30 smaller-sized pamphlets that same year.

HQ6LitterBugs.jpg (140163 bytes)

The 246th PSYOP Company had an interesting pocket ID that was in the form of a “Lady Bug” with the text:

246th PSYOP Co – Professional Litter Bugs

I commented to former PSYOP officer Hammond Salley about the vignette and he sent me a picture showing that it was also on the commander’s jeep, and apparently stayed on the jeep when the 246th became the 6th PSYOP Battalion.

2465567.jpg (75683 bytes)

Leaflet 246-55-67

Specialist 4 Eugene Simmons was an illustrator in the 246th PSYOP Company (Professional Litterbugs) for all of 1967. He recalls that Viet Cong prisoners of war would sometimes be isolated, interviewed and photographed. They would be asked to write a note to their combat buddies letting them know they were at alive and healthy. Photos would be taken and a leaflet produced with a photo of the prisoner on one side and his handwritten or typed note on the other side. Leaflet 246-55-67 depicts Nguyen Van Tuong. 50,000 leaflets were printed to be dropped by air over the 315B Unit at the request of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division. The text on the back says in part:

To Mr. Tu Thach and Friends of the 315B Unit

Hello Mr. Tu. Today I have some words for you and members in the Unit. Five years ago we were living together but I did not know where my honor was. I saw only the deaths everyday, was in need of many things and lost my freedom. The future was hopeless. I decided to leave the unit when I received the call from the Republic of Vietnam. Now I am really free. I enjoy life with my parents and my wife and family. The Republic of Vietnam has given me a house and the means to make a living…

Staff Sergeant Robert "Dennis" Brown was a member of the 246th PSYOP Company in Vietnam during 1967 and 1968. He was first attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and later the 25th Infantry Division. He recalls dropping leaflets daily from U-10 Courier aircraft, C-47 Skytrain aircraft, and UH-1D Huey helicopters.  He also regularly played Chieu Hoi tapes. He was involved in various “hearts and minds” projects such as Medical Civil Action Programs (MEDCAP) with Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and Special Forces teams.  He says he doesn’t know how successful his efforts were, but he did get positive feedback on one occasion:

A “grunt” with the 101st Airborne Division told me that a Hoi Chanh had stepped out from behind a tree and surrendered to him while he was on patrol. He said that if it had not been for the Chieu Hoi leaflet that the same VC would have probably killed him. 

4. Later, on 19 November 1966, a fourth company, the 19th PSYOP Company of the 6th PSYOP Battalion, was formed in Can Tho to provide advice and support in IV Corps.

19pob567.jpg (83983 bytes)

Leaflet 19-80-68

Not many leaflets from the 19th PSYOP Company can be found today. This one in a cartoon style depicts a farmer being drafted by the Viet Cong, lectured, then having second thoughts and informing on the Communists. In the final picture he is shown with his happy family holding presents in one hand and cash in the other.

Although command of the four tactical companies lay with the commander of the 6th PSYOP Bn, operational control lay with the four major area commanders in the Corps zones. During this period, JUSPAO had numerous USIA representatives operating throughout the country. These civilians maintained close contact with the four tactical companies within the 6th PSYOP Bn.

4thpog2.gif (10345 bytes)

4th PSYOP Group 

Because of the increased need for psychological warfare support, the 4th PSYOP Group was constituted in the Regular Army in Vietnam on 7 November 1967, and was activated on 1 December 1967 with headquarters in the Saigon Railyards (later, headquarters may have moved to the Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon). The 6th PSYOP Battalion became the 4th PSYOP Group; the four companies currently operating in the Corps Tactical Zones became battalions within the 4th PSYOP Group, as reported in the following paragraphs. (All four companies disappear from the order of battle as of 1 January 1968.) The 4th PSYOP Group departed Vietnam on 2 October 1971.

According to the Operation Report Lessons Learned 4th Psychological Operations Group for Period ending 30 April 1970, at that time the Group had printed 313,232,000 6-inch x 3-inch leaflets. The breakdown by unit is 6th Psychological Operations Battalion - 23,190,500; 7th Psychological Operations Battalion - 94,920,000; 8th Psychological Operations Battalion - 32,115,000; 10th Psychological Operations Battalion - 76,145,000; Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office - 4,626,815,000 and Military Assistance Command Vietnam – 105,842,000.

The Department of the Army Lineage and Honors list shows that the 4th PSYOP Group was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation and streamer embroidered “Vietnam 1967-1968,” and the Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, first class, and streamer embroidered “Vietnam 1967-1970.” It adds:

During its four years of service in Vietnam, PSYOP brought about the creation of the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office which issued PSYOP policy guidance. During the "Chieu Hoi” amnesty program, an estimated 200,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese surrendered to the South Vietnamese government. They credited their defection to the PSYOP message which influenced their decision to leave their former units.

4thPOGSignVN.jpg (176648 bytes)

4th PSYOP Group sign in Vietnam
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

HQ4thPOGStaffPhoto.jpg (61675 bytes)

The 4th PSYOP Group Propaganda Development Center (PDC) in late 1968
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

HQ4thPOGCruzCompoundVN.jpg (50271 bytes)

The 4th PSYOP Group Headquarters on the Cruz Compound

LoadingDockVNColor.jpg (116136 bytes)

The 4th Group print shop loading dock - 1968
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

SP4 John D. (Dave) Boyers was a member of the 4th PSYOP Group from January to November 1968. He recalls his service:

I arrived in the Republic of Vietnam the day before the 1968 Tet offensive began. We were told that we were in a highly secure area and that not a shot had been fired for weeks there. That night, what we thought were celebratory fireworks kept getting louder, until we realize it wasn't fireworks at all.

I was involved in setting up the first photo processing laboratory at 4th Group Headquarters in Saigon. The lab was in the last Quonset hut at the left end of the row in the Cruz Compound. It contained a darkroom, an art department which consisted of some layout tables and a varityper, and a small audio recording studio.

[Note: The Varityper was a highly ingenious word processor of the pre-digital age. This machine could use over 300 different type styles and write in 55 languages. It produced neat, camera-ready copy for offset printing, at a cost much lower than that of conventional printer's methods. The machine used by the 4th Group was an early model that did not correct spelling, punctuation, or grammar, and did no text formatting without complicated extra work on the user's part. It was a typesetting device which was capable of full justification. It still required that diacritical marks be inserted into the finished document by hand, a long and difficult task].

[Note 2: Another 4th Group member tells of building the PSYOP complex:

It was at the old train yards in what's now called the Cruz Compound.  We moved there in late summer of 1967. We had been located at the 50th ARVN PSYOP compound on the Binh Loi Canal, the last bridge before heading up the road to Bien Hoa.  We were ordered out of that location when our Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams discovered we were running our presses on top of what used to be an old French ammunition dump. Years of monsoons had washed the covering soil away and all kinds of ordnance, exploded and non-exploded started peeking up through the ground. We therefore packed up and moved our operation to Saigon].

GuardPostPrint.jpg (149259 bytes)

4th PSYOP Group Print Plant guard post.
Note: Storage tank in the foreground was for diesel fuel for
the compound's generator. The warehouse in back
was where the chemicals and paper were stored.
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

The compound was a fenced area consisting of several parallel Quonset hut with their front ends facing the street. A steel roof covered the center few huts. The print shop was between the row of huts and the street, situated to the right of the main entrance. The main entrance had a guard post which was manned by an MP. The rest of the compound had four or five posts, one at each end and a couple along the railroad tracks. These posts were manned by our enlisted personnel.

Prior to building the photo lab, we took our film to the Air Force Photograph Shop at the airport for processing, and it was a long and sometimes dangerous drive. Once we could process our own film and prints, we started producing some tactical leaflets. We formed what we called a quick response team, made up of an officer, a photographer and an interpreter. I don’t recall all the details, but I do remember going to shoot photographs of captured and surrendered Viet Cong after several battles in and around the Saigon area.

rockethitVNColor.jpg (22638 bytes)

Civilian homes burn after May 1968 rocket attack
on the 4th PSYOP Group warehouse.
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

surveydamage.jpg (42373 bytes)

Surveying the damage after the May 1968 Viet Cong rocket attack.
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

SkiWarehouseAttack2.jpg (79940 bytes)

May 1968 rocket attack damage to the 4th PSYOP Group print warehouse
(Photo courtesy of James Andrzejewski)

About 14 May 1968, the warehouse where the printing paper and chemicals were stored was hit by a Viet Cong rocket. I seem to recall that it was close to Ho Chi Minh’s birthday on 19 May and I guess the Viet Cong wanted to help him celebrate. A number of small huts behind the stores that faced the warehouse were set on fire. No one at the unit was hurt, though the guard bunker on top the fuel tank was actually only about 50 feet from the impact point of the rocket that hit the warehouse.

The photographic darkroom was right next door to the warehouse. Shrapnel from the attack went through two interior walls of the Quonset hut and through the steel drum of our brand new Pako print dryer. The darkroom was then moved a few buildings away and rebuilt about three times bigger. We were able to develop and print black and white film. We had no use for color at the time because almost all our leaflets were printed in black and white. Some leaflets had color added, but we never used a four-color process at that time.

We also produced a magazine for Vietnamese civilians but I don’t recall any of the details of how it was distributed, or any reactions to it.

Another effort we took part in was a small, fixed-frequency AM radio receiver which was air dropped. I wrote and photographed a brochure that went with the radio, explaining how to turn it on and listen, and to not be afraid to open the package. The radio sample I used was made of brown plastic, has an earphone for a speaker, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, with the inside filled with a black tar so it could not be used for any other purpose than to listen to our PSYOP broadcasts.

We also wrote a handbook on how to use the PSYOP loudspeaker.  Several of us in PDC had had commercial broadcasting experience before our service, and we built a small recording studio where we interviewed subjects to make loudspeaker tapes. I made transcripts of some of those interviews which featured the unbelievable hardships the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army faced.

SkiPrintVN.jpg (178866 bytes)

SP5 James Andrzejewski and his Printing Press

Army Specialist 5 James (Ski) Andrzejewski was an 83F (offset pressman) assigned to the 4th PSYOP Group in Saigon from 1968 to 1969. He was a printer when he joined the Army and received additional training at Fort Belvoir, VA. He ran one of the three web presses where he recalls printing about 7 leaflets to a sheet, and about 25,000 to 30,000 sheets an hour. The sheets were cut up by Vietnamese civilians using a large mechanical cutter. He estimates that he personally printed 250 to 300 million leaflets, but says that he never kept a single one.

SkiWarehouseAttack.jpg (97117 bytes)

Another Rocket Attack

Andrzejewski recalls that the VC tried to rocket the hotel that housed the members of the 4th PSYOP on one occasion in 1968 but missed. In the above picture he looks down from the roof of the hotel on the damage caused by the rocket. He says that the second rocket attack must have been a late evening on a weekend because he worked nights printing leaflets during the week. He was in the hotel and the men were not allowed out of the hotel after 10:00 p.m. so the rocket attack would have come later when he was locked down. He heard the explosion and looked out the back window to see the street covered in flames. The American soldiers immediately went downstairs to the shelter in case there were further attacks. The next day he went to see the damage and all the close-packed houses built of wood were destroyed and there were charred bodies everywhere. He still carries that image in his mind.

SkiLeafletsWall.jpg (55710 bytes)

Sample Leaflets on the Wall near the Printing Press

The gift of the radios is mentioned in Stars and Stripes of 18 July 1967 in an article entitled “Drop Radios on North – Psywar Experts.” The article says in part:

American psychological warfare experts have proposed the dropping of small transistor radios into Communist North Vietnam in order to get allied views across to the population.

Informed sources said the idea was presented to Leonard Marks, Director of the United States Information Service when he visited Saigon recently.

The said Marks reacted “enthusiastically ” and asked for cost estimates on the radios in lots of up to one million, an indication that serious consideration is being given to the idea.

The radios would be packed in plastic cases with a spare battery, giving them 20 hours playing time. They would be dropped by tiny parachutes and fixed at a pre-set frequency which would pick up the Voice of America or the Vietnamese government’s Voice of Freedom station in South Vietnam.

The Communist North Vietnamese reported the finding of Allied propaganda radios on many occasions. Some of the MACVSOG reports of the discoveries are as follows:

On 2 May 1965, fisherman found large and small boxes floating in the water. The small boxes contained children’s clothing and handkerchiefs. The large boxes were sealed with green tape and wrapped in a nylon bag. When opening the eight large boxes they found radios, about 25cm long and 10cm high. The listeners noted that the radios played Vietnamese music and talk stations. Within every box was a piece of paper that said, “This radio set is donated to the people of North Vietnam. Do not allow anyone to take it from you. Keep it to follow the situation.” Security forces found out and two days later confiscated 23 radio sets within the Tuong Lai commune.

During the night of 9 July 1965, rangers using rubber boats landed on the coast. They advanced 3 kilometers into the mainland near Yen Diem and laid 25 radio sets there, one of which was turned on.

The Communist North Vietnamese also reported the finding of Allied propaganda gift boxes:

About Tet 1965 on three occasions gift boxes were found drifting in transparent plastic boxes near Liem Lap hamlet. They contained children’s clothes, handkerchiefs, lighters, pencils, pen and pen holders, and fishing lines and hooks. Security agents confiscated the boxes saying that if they were brought home they would explode. In addition, if the finders wore the clothes after 3 months and 10 days their skin be swollen and they would die from poison that the enemy soaked into the cloth.

Prior to Children’s Day in October 1965children found plastic boxes containing a child’s yellow T-shirt, 19 sewing needles, 1 roll of thread and many buttons. They took them home.

DarkRoomVN.jpg (128913 bytes)

SP4 Cal Crane making a print in the
HHC 4th PSYOP Gp darkroom in Saigon, 1968.
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

4thPOGVNPrint04.jpg (145771 bytes)

Unknown pressman working in the HHC 4th PSYOP Group
printing facility in Saigon, 1968
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

ForkLoadingleaflets.jpg (135341 bytes)

Forklift loads leaflets onto a truck going to the airfield
(Photo courtesy of Dave Boyers)

Several of the 4th Group commanders were tasked with writing an after-action report at the end of their tenure. These reports were “not releasable to foreign nationals,” and it is clear why.The officers are very honest and point our numerous shortcomings in the policies of the Vietnamese government. These reports would have cause a major political problem if they had been read by the Vietnamese leaders at the time.

ALANBYRNE19681.jpg (71205 bytes)

Major Alan Byrne (left) Accepts Plaque from Lieutenant Colonel Robert Laabs, Chief, PSYOP Development Center
4th PSYOP Group – Vietnam – 1968

Retired Colonel (then Captain) Alan Byrne talks about his job description while assigned as the Chief, Audience Section, PSYOP Development Center, 4th PSYOP Group, US Army Vietnam:

I planned, directed, supervised, and coordinated research to analyze the conditions and attitudes of target groups in order to determine basic psychological vulnerabilities for PSYOP exploitation. I Developed and provided direction and guidance in the completion of reports, studies, evaluations, and surveys concerning US Army PSYOP within the Republic of Vietnam. I recommended PSYOP themes to be conveyed to a selected audience and the media to be used for dissemination. I directed research teams to conduct field research in conjunction with psychological studies in a counterinsurgency environment. I reviewed and prepared reports on enemy propaganda directed against US Forces.

I had assigned to my section approximately 15 soldiers, eight of which had doctorates and/or master degrees in Psychology, which was my major as well. In addition, we had other soldiers from the basic combat arms, plus American and Vietnamese interpreters, within the PSYOP Development Center, to provide whatever assistance we required.

We constantly reviewed incoming intelligence reports and situation reports. Let's say, we discovered that captured enemy soldiers had malaria. We would quickly develop the narrative message we wanted to portray on leaflets (mention their conditions and offer immediate medical assistance), and prepare broadcast tape(s) if applicable. We would then have the narrative theme interpreted and cross checked twice by American and Vietnamese soldiers or civilians. In the meantime, our Art and Design Section of the Product Development Center would have been alerted and would be designing the art work for the leaflets and after we approved the theme, would produce the broadcast tapes.

2841VNLeaf.jpg (103894 bytes)

Leaflet 2841

South Vietnam’s President Thieu distributes land deeds to Vietnamese farmers. The “hearts and minds” operation is photographed by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office. The text on the front is:


Some of the text on the back is:


On 8 September 1968, hundreds of farmers of Chuong Thien Province received titles to their land from South Vietnam’s President Nguyen Van Thieu. The President said: “It is the Government’s police to distribute Government-owned land to the tenant farmers at a price they can afford… ”

In the paragraph below LTC William Beck complains about the lack of any land reform programs. Looking through my files I did find the 1968 leaflet above that depicts President Thieu handing out land deeds to Vietnamese farmers. This helped put down the Communist uprising in the Philippines and it was apparently tried in Vietnam too.

Lieutenant Colonel William J. Beck commanded the 4th PSYOP Group from 15 October 1967 to 7 October 1968. He discusses some of his unit’s problems and successes in the declassified Senior Officer Debriefing Report. He notes that one of the major problems during the war was that the Vietnamese people did not identify with the Government of Vietnam and vice versa. He says that there are few national symbols like a “father figure,” and one of the few symbols that he had been able to utilize was the Tet celebration. [It sounds like COL Beck would love to have had “Uncle Ho” to build his propaganda around]. He complains that PSYOP is complicated by the lack of any substantial economic or social progress and lack of promised land reform.

Other problems are mentioned by Edward N. Luttwak in a 1991 article entitled “The Impact of Vietnam of Strategic Thinking in the United States,” who says that it takes more than just words to produce worthwhile propaganda. Deeds are just as important. He gives an example that hopefully is exaggerated:

The Agency for International development would come to a village in Vietnam and help it out…the next day the air force would bomb the village. Then a Special Forces team would go in to work with the survivors and rebuild the village and train them in self defense. Next the artillery would barrage the village. Then a psychological operations unit would pass around leaflets and explain the importance of fighting the Viet Cong. Then the navy would flatten the place with its gunfire.

Beck points out that the U.S. and Vietnam treat PSYOP in a completely different way. The Vietnamese try to propagandize in the Chinese manner, winning the loyalty of their followers, the beaurocracy and the armed forces; while the masses and ethnic minorities are secondary considerations. The Americans, on the other hand, want the hearts and minds of the masses if success is to be achieved.

He notes that the ARVN Political Warfare Battalions are not well trained and it would take at least one year to bring them up to the level of a US PSYOP battalion. He complains that there is some frustration at the lack of signs of tangible success, and this has led to gimmicks like the ace of spades calling card, sky-lighting effects, and ghostly loudspeakers. He says that this has reduced idea formation to the level of gimmicky and desperate attempts to find a quick solution and dramatic breakthrough. He concludes, “This is not good PSYOP.” The Colonel ends with a warning that the Vietnamese must be trained to take over PSYOP, but it should be clearly understood that they are not presently capable of doing so and need extensive training.

LTC Beck was replaced by Colonel Taro Katagiri who commanded the 4th PSYOP Group from 4 October 1968 to 13 March 1970. He discusses some of his unit’s problems and successes in another declassified Senior Officer Debriefing Report. He points out that captured enemy documents show that they are most concerned by pacification operations within Vietnam. Yet, the Colonel found that most members of his organization were unfamiliar with the pacification program. He had to redirect his personnel to support the campaign. He pointed out that the enemy regularly attacked the government’s ability to protect people, so PSYOP should build up the image of government agencies and encourage people to report information on the enemy. He also thought it important to produce propaganda clearly depicting the Viet Cong and PAVN as “Enemies of the People.” He notes that the enemy relies on face-to-face grassroots propaganda, but do not hesitate to use terrorism in support of their aims. He complains that the South Vietnamese government’s propaganda is fragmented with the Ministry of Information on the Civilian side and the General Political Warfare Department with its five Political Warfare Battalions on the military side. He points out the difference in manning and equipment between US and Vietnamese battalions. The American unit is authorized eight model 1250 multilith presses and two sheet-fed 17” x 22” presses, compared to the Vietnamese who have just two model 1250 multilith presses.

Katagiri is proud to point out that in 1969, 47,000 of the enemy became “Hoi Chanhs.” That is two and one-half times the number of the previous year. Fifty-seven people rallied from one village in September and claimed that they had been influenced by Chieu Hoi leaflet drops. At the same time, he says that supplies and maintenance are inadequate, mostly because the Group uses non-standard, low density equipment such as multilith presses, Hess and Barker presses, paper cutters, plate makers, AN/UIH-6 public address systems, a 50,000 watt radio station and the like.

He concludes that there needs to be better method of coordinating and unifying the PSYOP message. The army needs senior officers to understand what PSYOP can do. He gives an example of a brigade commander who boasted that his Chieu Hoi program consisted of two howitzers, one named “Chieu” and the other “Hoi.” He tells of pilots not wanting to drop leaflets because “That is mixing politics with war.” He wants an appreciation of PSYOP taught to all officers from early in their training.

Next Page