SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

There were a dozen different major themes of Allied psychological operations (PSYOP) during the Vietnam War. One of the most interesting was the use of images and messages telling of the overwhelming military might of the United States and Government of Vietnam forces. Dozens of leaflets were prepared showing aircraft, sea craft, and land weapons like tanks and artillery in an attempt to frighten the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army regulars and cause them to surrender or rally to the government of South Vietnam. Robert W. Chandler discusses this theme in The War of Ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, a Westview Special Study, Boulder, Colorado, 1981:

The fear appeal was used to convince the individual soldier or civilian that he faced an overwhelming danger of being killed if he remained with the Communists…The omnipresent threat of death was reinforced by complimentary themes, including the surprise and destructiveness of B-52 bomber raids, the mounting casualty rate, and the possibility of being buried in an unmarked grave, forever forgotten…Photographs of massed government and Allied weapons were used to reinforce the impression of ultimate victory by the Republic – “The Government forces are winning. Their firepower is overwhelming. Their resources are inexhaustible.”


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Leaflet SP-188.

This is one of the very early leaflets of the Vietnam War. It was produced in 1966 and depicts an American A1E Skyraider fighter-bomber. The leaflet was printed by the Joint U.S. Public Affaits Office (JUSPAO) and bears their “Special Products” (SP) code. The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. The Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career; it was a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad," after the French World War I fighter. It was operated by the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force, and also saw service with the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and others. It remained in U.S. service until the early 1970s. The text on the front and back is:

$35,000 REWARD

The Department of the Air Force of the United States of America offers a reward of $35,000VN for the recovery of, or information leading to the recovery of, Lt. George E. Flynn, who is a pilot of the U.S. Air Force. Lt. Flynn was flying an A1E Skyraider, last seen early Wednesday morning, 23 September 1964, flying over the Dong Thai outpost, Hieu Le District, Kien Giang Province.

Information leading to the recovery of Lt. Flynn should be communicated to the nearest ARVN Military Commander, U.S. Sector Advisor, or the Commander of the U.S. 2nd Air Division. After giving the information and collecting the money, the bearer of this leaflet will be completely free to come and go as he pleases.

U.S. 2nd Air Division.

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B 52

Although many different Allied aircraft were depicted on leaflets, the one seen most was certainly the B-52 bomber. It appeared on dozens of Allied propaganda leaflets, and probably with good cause. There is some evidence that of all the weapons, this was the one that the enemy feared most. It flew so high that they never heard, and sometimes did not even see the bombers. The first they knew of their presence was when the ground erupted and death ensued.

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Leaflet 4537

I chose leaflet 4537 because it has an interesting look and message. It is a bit more artistic that the usual leaflet, which just shows the bomber. To the right of the image the strange text is:

This is the B-52 evil genius, a constant threat to you.

The back is all text. The message is:

Dear North Vietnamese Communist Cadre:

On your supply routes into the south, you have surely heard a lot about the terrible death and destruction of the B-52 evil genius.

The B-52 evil genius is capable of carrying many different kinds of bombs. It usually flies at an altitude of more than 10 kilometers, so that you can neither see it nor hear it.

Unmarked graves on both sides of the road are the consequences of bombing by the B-52 evil genius. Therefore, whenever the North Vietnamese Communists make you move supplies to the South, you will be bombed. Do you still hope to escape the Angel of Death and return to your families?

You had better find a way to escape and save your lives. The Government of Vietnam will welcome you with open arms.

I assume that the above text was written by a Vietnamese. It certainly does not have the feel of “American” English. Another clue is that the leaflet fact sheet states that the illustration is of a “B-52 Flying Fortress.” The “Flying Fortress” was the B-17 bomber of WWII. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, turbojet, strategic bomber flown by the United States Air Force since 1955. In June 1964, 28 B-52Fs were fitted with external racks for twenty-four 750 pound bombs. Later, another 46 aircraft received similar modifications. In December 1965, a number of B-52Ds underwent Big Belly modifications to increase bomb capacity for carpet bombings. While the external payload remained at twenty-four 500 pound or 750 pound bombs, the internal capacity increased from twenty-seven to eighty-four 500 pound bombs or from twenty-seven to forty-two 750 pound bombs. The Big Belly modification created the capacity for a total of 60,000 pounds in 108 bombs.

The Photographic Sheet

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I thought it might be nice to show the reader how a leaflet with color is made. Apparently and some point thought was given to making this leaflet in color. This B-52 leaflet coded 4537 was first designed and then the black text was printed on a piece of clear plastic. It was laid on a piece of yellow paper. Then a second piece of clear plastic with red highlights was laid over the first two sheets and all taped together. You now have a leaflet with red highlights and black text on yellow paper. In the above case it appears that the red is slightly off, the B-52 not being correctly centered. Once inspected and approved the leaflet is photographed and the printing plates are made.

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Leaflet 4569

The same photograph of the shadow of an unknown aircraft over a bombed bridge appears in about a dozen Allied leaflets. The aircraft is an F-101 Voodoo. The Tactical Air Command and Strategic Air Command had three squadrons operating the Voodoo during the Vietnam War; all of them flying reconnaissance missions doing bomb damage assessment and taking photos of potential targets. I assume that the F-101 was taking pictures of the bridge and happened to photograph its own shadow. The image appears on leaflets SP-484, 4565, 4566, 4569, 4570, 4573, and 4574 and many others. Leaflet SP-484 actually identifies the target as the My Dac bridge located 30 kilometers north of the 17th parallel, attacked and destroyed on 22 April, 1965.

The text on the front of Leaflet 4569 is:

Bombing to Continue

Destruction of bridges and other lines of communication such as the one in this photograph are to reduce supplies going to the North Vietnamese invaders of the Republic of Vietnam. Work to repair damage like this will be negated by future air strikes. Only when the Communist leadership stops its agtression can peace return and the repair work continue uninterrupted.

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Leaflet 4-125-68

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Phantoms bomb North Vietnam

This official USAF photograph was released in December 1965 with the caption:

U.S. F-4 Phantoms bomb North Vietnam before a Christmas Eve bombing halt.
The bombing resumed in January 1966.

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Note that a USAF magazine also used the photograph in an article entitled
“Air Force Report.”

American PSYOP later used the edited photo in a propaganda leaflet. This leaflet has two photographs, the first depicting artillery and the second a U.S.A.F. bombing raid somewhere over North Vietnam. The center aircraft is an F-4 Phantom; the lower aircraft an EB-66 Destroyer.

This picture appears in an Air Force Magazine article entitled “Basic Beliefs” that discusses changes in Air Force Doctrine. The caption of the picture is:

During the Vietnam War, doctrine often defined the Air Force’s role as being support of ground forces. Here, a flight of F-4C Phantoms under radar control of an EB-66 electronic warfare airplane bomb North Vietnamese targets. (USAF photo)

The F-4 was capable of reaching a top speed of Mach 2.2. The F-4 could carry up to 18,650 pounds of weapons on nine external hard-points, including air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and unguided, guided, and nuclear bombs. Air combat experience over North Vietnam led to the adoption of the Phantom by both the Navy and Air Force as the primary air superiority fighter of both services. Its large wing and powerful engines gave it competitive performance against smaller MiGs, and the weapons systems officer assisted in spotting opposing fighters in visual range dogfights as well as with radar.

The B-66 Destroyer was produced by the McDonnell-Douglas for the US Air Force. It was used on many clandestine missions. A number of EB-66E aircraft served throughout Vietnam War. Unarmed, these aircraft were packed with special electronics for electronic reconnaissance and tactical ECM jamming.

The text beneath the photographs is:

The firepower of the Army of Republic of Vietnam and allied forces are ready to destroy you

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Leaflet 4-33-70

The United States Army 4th PSYOP Group prepared this leaflet in June 1970 for Vietnamese troops in Cambodia to warn them that their sanctuaries will be bombed.

This is just one of about a dozen similar leaflets produced by the Group. The leaflet depicts a Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter releasing a bomb and the text:


The back is all text:


Your violation of Cambodia’s neutrality will no longer be tolerated. You no longer have a sanctuary here. The bombs are already seeking out your units and war supplies. Your weapons are of little use against the devastation coming to you. Save your lives – leave your units and hide in the jungle until you can make your way home to rejoin your family.

The same image and front appears on 4-35-70. The message on the back is different:


Cambodia has been a neutral nation ever since it became independent many years ago. But your leaders violate this neutrality by making you bring the machines and supplies of war into Cambodia. Now you have no sanctuaries. Why die needlessly on foreign soil where you do no belong? Save your lives – leave your unit and hide in the jungle until you can make your way home to join your family.

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Leaflet T-014

I similar image is depicted in Ho Chi Minh Trail Campaign leaflet T-014. This leaflet attempts to frighten the enemy workers and keep them from rebuilding the trail. The front shows an American F-5 fighter-bomber dropping bombs and the text:


The back is all text:


Aircraft will continue to come and drop bombs here. If you come to repair the damage you will be killed because while you are working, the aircraft will return and drop more bombs. These bombings have the objective of stopping the soldiers from the North going to the South to kill your compatriots. Don’t lose your life uselessly to help this aggression.

Compatriots - Leave this area and live and work somewhere else where it is safe.

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Leaflet 27

Leaflet 27 was dropped on North Vietnam during the period that the Americans bombed the North. It depicts the might of the American Navy and Air Force. The front of the leaflet bears three photographs of different American aircraft filling the skies over Vietnam. Leaflet 27 was one of three leaflets in a group of 6,000,000 dropped by the USAF on 10 October 1965. The aircraft at the top of the leaflet is the F-4 Phantom.

The aircraft in the center are USAF F-104 Starfighters. The Starfighter was used both in the air-superiority role and in air support missions. Starfighter squadrons made two deployments to Vietnam; the first was from April 1965 to November 1965, flying 2,937 combat sorties. The second was from June 1966 until July 1967, in which time they flew a further 2,269 combat sorties, for a total of 5,206 sorties.

The aircraft at the bottom of the leaflet are T-28D Trojans, a converted 2 seat trainer used as fighter-bombers. They had three hard-points on each wing, capable of handling munitions up to 500-pound bombs or 1000-pound bombs if only one hard-point under each wing was used. They could carry rocket pods, CBU dispensers, Napalm, etc., on the hard-points depending on mission, and also mounted .50 Caliber heavy machineguns internal to the wings. The text is:

For your safety, stay away from military installations

The back depicts a grandson speaking to his grandfather:

Grandpa, the Party tells us that hundreds of enemy planes have been shot down. Why do so many of them keep coming daily?

Grandson, this is a state secret. Nobody except the Party is allowed to count the number of enemy planes shot down. As for us, the people are at least allowed to count the number of enemy planes that fly over our heads. We had better keep the count to ourselves and stay away from the Party’s military installations when the planes come.

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Leaflet HQ-18-67

This 1967 leaflet was printed both in black and in blue. The text on the blue version is larger and easier to read, while the pictures on the black version are easier to see. The leaflet depicts a number of Republic F-105 Thunderchiefs on a bombing mission at the top, and below we see bombs bursting on the ground. The Mach 2 capable F-105 Thunderchief, commonly known as the “Thud” by its crews, was a single-seat supersonic fighter-bomber that bore the brunt of strike bombing over North Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War. It could carry up to 14,000 pounds of bombs and missiles. Some of the text on this leaflet is:

To The People Who are in the Areas Temporarily Occupied by the Viet Cong

It is regrettable that the Government of Vietnam has to use bombs and artillery to drive the Viet Cong from places where they're hiding. In order to liberate your area, sometimes there is no other means. To protect your lives the government asks you to follow these measures:

Do not live close to where the Viet Cong are gathering.

Do not attend meetings hosted by the Viet Cong.

Do not work for the Viet Cong.

Dear citizens. You can protect you and your family by taking the following actions:

Ask the Viet Cong to leave the village.

Ask the Viet Cong to stop hiding in the village and firing weapons; that is the reason for Government bombing.

Ask the Viet Cong not to gather people for meetings because they may get killed by bombs and artillery.

Leaflet 45-65  

This leaflet has an interesting code. It is an early leaflet and thus does not mention the name of the unit that printed it. We do know that such numbers are found in the I Corps Tactical Zone Leaflet Catalog – Joint Psywar Civil Affairs Center, so we assume the leaflet was prepared in the I Tactical zone. We believe the leaflet was printed by the 244th PSYOP Company that was formed during Vietnam as an Active component unit on 10 February 1965. The code shows that this was the 45th leaflet they produced that year.  

The leaflet depicts an early version of the U.S. F4 Phantom U.S. Fighter-bomber carrying and extra long-range gas tank with the wings loaded with rockets. The text is:

Dear Friends,

The Viet Cong have gone into hiding in your village. Vietnamese and American aircraft will strafe and bomb them shortly.

To avoid collateral damage, you must leave the village before the arrival of those aircraft. Since the Viet Cong have occupied your village, some of your houses will be damaged or destroyed.

The Viet Cong are hiding behind the innocent, bringing harm to their peaceful life.

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Leaflet 7-536-68

The crude leaflet was prepared by the 7th PSYOP Battalion in 1968. I add it because it is one of the few that depicts an F-100 Super Sabre (sometimes called “the Hun”). As the F-100 pulls away, three Viet Cong run from the bomb blast. The F-100Ds arrived in Southeast Asia in 1962 and began flying combat missions, used primarily for close air support and ground attacks within South Vietnam. On 4 April 1965 an F-100 Super Sabre shot down one of the first enemy jet aircraft in aerial combat in Vietnam, a MiG-17, using cannon fire. The text on the front is:

You cannot win under the powerful fire power of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces and its Allies. Don't wait any longer, return to the protection of the Republic of Vietnam.

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Leaflet 7-449-68

Another crude leaflet prepared by the 7th PSYOP Battalion in 1968. I add it because although it is a tactical leaflet aimed at the 52 Regiment, besides the B-52 bomber, tank, attack helicopter and infantry men, it depicts the U.S.A.F Convair F-102 Delta Dagger. The Delta Dagger was a fighter aircraft built to intercept invading Soviet bomber fleets. The F-102 served in Vietnam, flying fighter patrols and serving as bomber escorts. The F-102 became fairly heavily used in the air-to-ground role. The interceptor was equipped with twenty-four 2.75-inch folding fin aerial rockets in the fuselage bay doors, and these weapons were used to good effect against various types of North Vietnamese targets. Additionally, heat-seeking Falcon missiles used in conjunction with the F-102s nose-mounted Infrared Search & Track were employed on night time harassment raids along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

To the officers of the 52nd Regiment: Your future will be like this if you don't return to the Republic of Vietnam.

Leaflet SP-699

This early JUSPAO leaflet is very violent, depicting allied fighter-bombers attacking the Viet Cong and killing them with bombs and machineguns. The text on the back is:


The ARVN shall continuously be bombarding your secret zones until your units will have been destroyed. Thus, your life is in extreme danger as death will be everywhere around you. We believe your fighting ability is limited whereas the Republic of Vietnam’s Army enjoy all the means and favorable conditions that guarantee victory. Therefore, the Viet Cong shall be defeated everywhere, their corpses littering the battlefield. Do promptly abandon the VC ranks, the dangerous jungle, and mountains. Return to the national “Just Cause” to bring peace to our country!

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Leaflet 7-706-68

A third leaflet prepared by the 7th PSYOP Battalion in 1968 featuring aircraft. This one depicts the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, a single seat subsonic carrier-capable attack aircraft developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps in the early 1950s. The Skyhawk had a top speed of more than 670 miles per hour. The aircraft's five hard-points supported a variety of missiles, bombs and other munitions. It was capable of carrying a bomb load equivalent to that of a World War II-era Boeing B-17 bomber. The text on the front is:

This Powerful Air Power Has Forced North Vietnam to Come to the Peace Conference Table

The text on the back is:

The cessation of the bombing will not alleviate the desperation of your situation. The powerful armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam and its allies have forced the North Vietnamese to sit down at the conference table. The armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam and its allies have stopped bombing North Vietnam but they are not afraid that their position on the battlefield will be weakened, because it is only the bombing of North Vietnam that has been stopped. The fighting in South Vietnam is inflicting heavier and heavier casualties on Communist forces. North Vietnamese troops trying to infiltrate into South Vietnam will be annihilated by the power of the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam and its allies.

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Leaflet 7-517-68

The same exact image appears on leaflet 7-517-68 with the title above instead of at the side. The title is:

This Jet Will Return to This Area Regularly

This leaflet has an interesting back because over the text there is a bright red bomb which would catch the attention of any passing Viet Cong. The text is:

Life or Death?

You have seen these jets bomb this area. You have probably seen the terrible death and destruction they cause. This area could be bombed again at any moment. If you want to live, you should immediately leave this area.

If you stubbornly stay here, blindly obeying the orders of your superiors, you will die a horrible death.

You need to think about this very carefully and then make your choice.

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Leaflet 3402

This leaflet depicts what appears to be a United States Air Force C-119, better known by us who occasionally flew in it as “the flying coffin.” It was a big aircraft with what appeared to be very small engines. It was never a comfortable flight. The image shows a number of South Vietnamese soldiers boarding the aircraft. The text on the front says:

Mobility like this is one of the reasons for the Army of the Government of Vietnam’s Superiority.

The message on the back of 3402 says in part:

Today the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam have grown in both quality and strength, capable of replacing the Allied forces in the fight to defeat the Communists and safeguard the people’s peaceful life.

The powerful posture of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam has made the Communists realize that they can no longer hope to wait for the Allies withdrawal and take over the South. Your continuing struggle will only result in meaningless sacrifices and will bring about afflictions to your wives and children…

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Leaflet 4-47-70

Gunships have been a favorite weapon of the United States since the Vietnam War. They are extremely mobile, can appear at the scene of a battle very quickly and cover that battlefield with exceptionally well-aimed and lethal Gatling gun and artillery fire. The first American gunship was the AC-47 in 1964, then the AC-130 in 1966, and the AC-119 “G” version in 1968 and the improved “K” version in 1969. As the aircraft changed, the call signs changed too: the AC-47 was “Puff” (also called “Snoopy”), the AC-119G was “Shadow,” the AC-119K was “Stinger,” the AC-130H was “Spectre” and the AC-130U was “Spooky.”

Retired Master Sergeant James Sands forwards leaflet 4-47-70, which was printed by the 4th PSYOP Group in 1970 and depicts a C-119 gunship with four weapons protruding from its port side. The Shadow (G Model) had four six-barrel 7.62mm mini-guns, armor plating, flare-launchers, and night-capable infrared equipment. The Stinger (K Model) had 4 miniguns and two 20mm cannon, improved avionics, and two underwing-mounted General Electric J85-GE-17 turbojet engines, adding nearly 6,000 pounds of thrust for increased lift.  Over the course of the war the AC-119's were located at Phan Rang, Phu Cat, Tan Son Nhut, Da Nang and Udorn in Thailand. Text on the front of the leaflet is:



The message on the back of the leaflet is:

To the cadres and troops in the Communist forces.

You have just experienced the violence of the AC-119 gunship's attack. This close-support gunship is armed with two 20mm cannon and four 7.62mm machine guns, each with the rate-of-fire of 6,000 rounds per minute, enough to put six rounds per second into each square meter of your position. The aircraft can carry a load of ammunition large enough to completely erase the target. Moreover, the AC-119 has the latest electronic equipment to detect and pinpoint your exact location, by night as well as day.

We are going to keep on attacking you. Ask yourself, will you be able to escape death next time? Get smart. Rally to the Government side to hasten the return of peace for our country and to escape a horrible death yourself.

Colonel Joseph D. Celeski seems to mention this leaflet in Laos in Special Air Warfare and the Secret War in Laos, Air Commandos 1964–1975:

As USAF gunships came online and began serving in Laos, propaganda leaflets were fired out of the flare launching devices of the AC-119K “Stingers,” most dropped along the Ho Chi Minh Trail targeted at North Vietnam Army forces. The leaflet had a picture of the gunship on one side with the words “Rain of Death—here is the AC-119 that just attacked you,” printed in Vietnamese. On the back were descriptions of the fire power and surveillance capabilities of the gunship, warning the NVA forces they would continue to die courtesy of the gunship if they did not give up the cause.

There were many versions of gunships during the Vietnam war. During a recent conversation among veterans the following were mentioned

1964 - Puff the Magic Dragon AKA Snoopy was an AC-47 with Miniguns.
Spooky was an AC-47 with Miniguns and flares.
1966 - Spectre was an AC-130H with guns and 40mm cannon and a searchlight.
Spooky was apparently used again on an AC-130U.
1968 - Shadow was an AC-119g with miniguns and flares.
1969 - Stinger was an AC-119k with 20mm cannon, miniguns, searchlight and flares.
Guns a GoGo, 1st Cavalry, Armed C-47 with guns of different caliber.

They all had different weapons and different loitering times.

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The Gunship in Action

Specialist Richard N. Levine was a member of the 8th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam in 1968. He was a photographer and tasked to take time-lapse pictures of the gunship in action over a Viet Cong area. This is his picture, never seen before. The gunship can be seen flying in a circle while the fire comes down from the aircraft.

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Deceased Viet Cong

The following morning Richard found that the Viet Cong killed in the previous night’s raid had been laid out in a row so their families could identify them. Richard was quick to point out that PSYOP does not kill anyone. It is meant to save lives with its surrender and safe conduct passes and messages to return home and stop fighting.


Spooky/Puff…Playing Nightly in Your Area

I always enjoy adding In-Country cartoons by Fehrenbacher. He seems to catch the spirit and feel of the Vietnam so well. Here, one Viet Cong points out the aircraft banking overhead as the gun ship prepares to open fire with everything on board. The rest of the guerrillas who have seen the gunship in action are going DiDi Mau very quickly.

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Leaflet 3405

Leaflet 3405 shows a number of troops dismounting from a Bell UH-1 (Huey) helicopter. Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) symbols are at the left and right. The Bell UH-1 series Iroquois was the most used helicopter in Vietnam They first arrived in 1963 and by the end of the conflict, more than 5,000 of these aircraft were deployed to Southeast Asia. “Hueys” were used for Medical evacuation, command and control, air assault; to transport personnel and materiel; and as gun ships. The message on the front of leaflet 3405 is:


The message on the back says in part:

The brilliant victories of the Republic of Vietnam armed forces on battlefields are the result of sustained training in both techniques and tactics. The Republic of Vietnam armed forces are able to crush all aggressive attempts of the Communists in any battle condition to protect the lives of the people.

All your military effort will only bring more deaths and destruction to the people, and finally you will meet with tragic defeat. Following the examples of thousands of returnees, come back now to unite the love between the South and North.

[NOTE] This image also appears on a photograph in the Douglas Pike Photograph Collection, The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University with the caption:

Heavily laden infantrymen of the 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment of the First ARVN Division dash from a helicopter which lifted them to a recently “cleared” mountaintop landing zone over-looking Ba Long Valley in Quang Tri Province.

Additional text adds:

First ARVN Division Sets Standard for Vietnam Armed Forces.

“Vietnam’s Finest” is most often used to describe the First ARVN (army of the Republic of Vietnam) Division, an infantry unit that serves as a model for the remainder of South Vietnam’s rapidly improving ground forces. Commanded by Major General Ngo Quang Truong, the First operates in the republic’s two northernmost provinces, Quang Tri and Thua Thien, the area closest to North Vietnam

The Division’s high morale and its emphasis on training, discipline and leadership wins high praise from Allied officers. On a rotating basis each regiment undergoes regular re-training and re-outfitting. Even so 15 of the 17 regiments are in the field at all times. Operations are conducted over some of the country’s most difficult terrain, from coastal lowlands to almost impossible jungle highlands. The fact that 60 percent of the more than 20,000 troops of the division claim the area as home is an important factor.

During the three-month period ending September 30, the enemy suffered 16 killed for every First Division ARVN loss. During the same period the First captured 722 enemy weapons and lost none. In 1968 the ratio was one ARVN soldier killed for every six communists. When the U.S. Third Marine Division which has been helping defend the area since 1965 departs by the end of November, the ARVN First will have proven its ability to take over the job in full.

Leaflet CC-122-70

This is one of the more impressive Vietnamese War leaflets. The Huey gunships are depicted firing of Viet Cong coming down the trail or camped in South Vietnam. it is a work of art. It is late in the war and the Vietnamese are taking more responsibility for protecting their own country. I searched long and hard to find out what the CC code stands for. At some point I found data that indicates it is the Combined Center of the IV Corps of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. It was one of four Corps in the ARVN, and it oversaw the Mekong Delta region of the country. The leaflets were printed for the IV Corps by the U.S. 10th PSYOP Battalion, which was headquartered in the 4th Combat Zone. The text on the front and back is:

To soldiers of North Vietnamese infiltrating units.
The above is a drawing of helicopter gunships of the Government of the RVN. They routinely fly over the airspace in your area.
The gunships, hunters of the air, can detect all movement on the ground and can instantly investigate any suspect.

Therefore, once they spot you, they will follow you and hunt you down.
You cannot evade their powerful guns. They are one but many modern weapons of the Government of RVN.
There are many more weapons that are superior to yours. How can you continue fighting with such a formidable opponent?
So, think about it!

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Leaflet 8(1)9-307-68A

This 1968 leaflet from the 8th PSYOP Battalion depicts a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom Jet flying Over Vietnam. The Phantom is a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It can carry more than 18,000 pounds of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. Later models incorporated a Vulcan rotary cannon. During the Vietnam War, the F-4 was used extensively as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war. The text on the front is:

Do Not Wait Until This Aircraft Returns

The text on the back is:

We warn you that this aircraft will return sowing death and you won’t have enough time to choose a way of life.

80,000 of your friends have used the Government’s safe conduct pass to return to live in warmth, peace and security. You can emulate them or remain to die a miserable and horrible death.

Those who remain will never know when bombs will be dropped on them. So, be wise and don’t hesitate any longer. The Government and people of South Vietnam will welcome you in a spirit of brotherly love. Rally now! A much better life is awaiting you. Don’t hesitate any longer! Rally now!

Leaflet 8N-289-69?

This leaflet depicts an American Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter on the front attacking and firing rockets. The back is text and two Chieu Hoi symbols. The text is in two languages, one of the Vietnamese highlander languages and the other in Vietnamese. The printing is very poor, and I cannot quite make out the code number.

To Communist Regular and Local Forces

You have no doubt experienced being hunted by helicopter gunships. Looking at your brother-in-arms dead or injured by their armaments, you will fathom their effectiveness and destructive power.

The only way to save yourself is to return to your country, your nation. Promptly return now, before this severe weapon finds you.

The early-model Cobras, which were G-model aircraft, were fitted with two 2.75-inch rocket pods, a 7.62-mm minigun and a 40-mm grenade launcher. The aircraft could also be fitted with a 20-mm wing-mounted cannon. Later models dropped the rocket pods in favor of TOW anti-tank missiles. The Cobras began seeing combat in Vietnam in 1968 and remained in the fight through 1973.


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A number of Allied leaflets showed every kind of sea craft from the famous “Patrol Boat River” (PBR) to battleships and aircraft carriers. American carrier task forces were always off the coasts of North Vietnam and within striking range.

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Leaflet 4503

Leaflet 4503 depicts an aircraft carrier off the coast of North Vietnam and the text in part:

One of several United States carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin with the mission of interdicting supplies destined for North Vietnamese Army forces in South Vietnam

United States action in mining the entrances to all North Vietnamese ports is directed against the military capability of North Vietnam and not against other nations…This action has been taken to shorten the war and stop the killing throughout all of Indochina.

The same image and a similar message appear on leaflet 4577.

It is interesting to note that the mining of Vietnam during the war was a failure, in some part due to nature. Vietnam Veteran’s News says that by August 1972, The US had planted 11,000 sea mines off the coast of North Vietnam in an attempt to encourage the North Vietnamese to return to the Paris peace talks table. Soon afterwards the ocean began to explode. The record setting solar storm of 1972 apparently caused 4,000 sea mines to explode spontaneously off the coast of North Vietnam. The mines used in Operation Pocket Money were actuated by pressure, acoustic, and/or magnetic signatures of passing ships. Magnetic-influence mines would detonate when magnetic variations exceeded preset thresholds for one or more magnetic factors (e.g., amplitude, polarity, rate of change, and/or gradient).

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Leaflet 3029

Leaflet 3029 depicts the battle ship New Jersey on the front and the text:


The battleship New Jersey is operating off the shores of Vietnam.This battleship has nine 406mm guns with warheads weighing over 860kg that can fire a distance in excess of 33 kilometers and twenty 127mm guns.

The 406mm warhead can penetrate over 9 meters of reinforced concrete.

Before the tremendous firepower of the Republic of Vietnam and Allied Forces, the Communists can never realize their dream of the invasion of South Vietnam. To end the war honorably, the Hanoi authorities must show their sincere desire for peace in the Paris talks.

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Patrol Boat River (PBR)

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Leaflet 2223

This leaflet is one of many that shows a small river patrol boat. Some of the leaflets feature U.S. crews; some feature Vietnamese crews. The text on the front is:


For the security of our compatriots, this kind of navy patrol boat will be operating day and night on the streams and rivers.

The Viet Cong use the waterways to transport deadly weapons which they will often use to kill or wound innocent people. On the waterways, the Viet Cong also try to transport rice and foodstuffs taken from our compatriots or paid for with worthless receipts. On these waterways, the Viet Cong also levy taxes on commodities that our peasants being to the market to sell. Without these weapons and foodstuffs and taxes, the Viet Cong would not be able to continue their war against the people…

There is an extremely long propaganda message on the back which I will not translate in full. The first two paragraphs are:

To help eliminate the Viet Cong from the waterways, the Government of Vietnam has asked that U.S. patrol boats reinforce the Vietnamese River Police. The River Police will be onboard the patrol boats.

When the River Police call, compatriots should stop to be searched. If a boat fails to stop, a shot will be fired to attract attention. Honest people’s vessels will stop, while the Viet Cong vessels will try to escape. Honest people have nothing to fear. DON’T TRY TO RUN AWAY OR DRIFT TO THE RIVER BANKS. Patrol boats will sing any vessel which tries to hide or escape.

A former sailor who served in Vietnam points out that the boat flies a US ensign and the man under the canopy opposite the coxswain appears to have a Navy bird pined on his cap. As for the two Vietnamese national police, the sailor states that he often had Vietnamese National Police on the boat during daytime patrols.

One official 1966 River Squadron Five Command History tells us that the PBR was developed from a pleasure craft. It has two 220-horsepower engines which pull water through the intake on the boat’s bottom and discharges it through twin nozzles on the stern. Steering is done by directing the water jet nozzles. The speed is 27 mph with a crew of four enlisted men. The boat is protected by twin 50-caliber machineguns forward, another 50-caliber machinegun and an M-79 grenade launcher plus individual weapons. Later M-72 anti-tank rockets were carried while they awaited the Mark 18 40mm rapid fire grenade launchers. The most interesting comment in the report is that on 27 June 1966, The Viet Cong initiated the first significant psychological warfare against the PBRs. Unfortunately, the report goes into no detail.

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Leaflet 4-118-69

Since we are depicting PBRs, I think this is the perfect place to add this novelty leaflet. The PBR crews would give these to the local children and they were able to cut out the patterns and make their own little paper PBR. The leaflet shows a child using scissors to cut out the pieces and the leaflet seems to explain how to put it all together in great detail. The leaflet was prepared by the 4th PSYOP Group in 1969. The text is:

Dear Children. This is a picture of the patrol boats that operate in this area. These boats will protect your families and will prevent the communists from attacking your villages. The sailors are your friends. You should help them and you should not be afraid of them.

At the right there are instruction titled: A game for children. The text provides instruction in how to cut out the different pieces and glue them together to make a cardboard model of a patrol boat.

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The patrol boat as made from the directions on the leaflet

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A Vietnamese child plays with the Model PBR

Engineman Second Class Tom Daugherty of US Navy PBR River Section 534 took this picture at Quan Nguyen Thanh, just up river from Ben Tre.

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Handout 2159

A number of propaganda leaflets and posters depict various small naval craft. Handout 2159 was printed in September 1967 in 8 x 10.5-inches and depicts an armed junk, a Coast Guard boat and a PBR.

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Poster 2073

The same general product was first printed in July 1967 as a 17 x 22-inch poster coded 2073. The text is identical, but there are three different types of boats depicted. The text is:


They are dedicated to support our country in building a just society with equal opportunity for all citizen. You who love along the coast and rivers can contribute to the defeat of the Viet Cong and the soldiers from the North. This is your concern and your help is needed to bring happiness to each home and each individual. You will receive a monetary reward and offered protection for the following types of information:

The location of enemy personnel shelters, food and supplies.
Infiltration activities including ships and small craft.
The location of mines, booby traps and planned ambushes.
The location and name of known Viet Cong.
Location of POW camps, where Vietnamese and Allied prisoners are located.
Information which leads to the defection of a Viet Cong leader.
Information on Viet Cong tax soliciting activities.

If you have information:

Hail or approach Vietnamese or Allied boats as shown in the photo.

Contact other military personnel, local police or authorities. A reward will be presented by Naval authorities.

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Poster 1763

A third version of this poster in 17 x 22-inches, coded 1763 was prepared in March 1967 and depicted a fourth LST (landing craft) besides the three boats shown above. The title of this poster is: 



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Leaflet 19-81-67

This leaflet depicts what appear to be the same three ships in slightly different poses. It was printed by the 19th PSYOP Company; deployed to Can Tho, Vietnam, 19 November 1966 to provide advice and support in IV Corps. The top picture is a standard PBR. The same picture appears on poster 1763. The boat at lower left is probably a Command Control Boat (CCB). The boat at lower right is unidentified but may be a “Landing Craft Personnel” or “Higgins Boat.” As the war neared its end, the United States turned over most of its small boats to Vietnam. It shows the Republic of Vietnam flag and the hull number “GC 407.” Some of the text is:


The patrolling water-craft on the Mekong delta are for:

Helping citizens to travel the waterways easier

Giving the Viet Cong cadres more chances to escape

The back of the leaflet explains how the Viet Cong should act when stopped and questioned and if they want to return to the government:

You should be very careful to conduct yourself as follows. National Policemen and crews on the Vietnamese-American patrol boats, like on the other side of this leaflet, have all received clear instructions on receiving you. You will be treated well and brought to a Chieu Hoi Center. These are procedures that you must follow:

When your boat approaches the patrol boats, wait until the patrol boat calls, you should then show yourself. (If you don't have a boat you can stand at an open place by the waterside. They will tell you what to do.)

Leave your weapons on the bottom of boat, or stop your boat at the waterside. You may not have a loaded gun or ammunition. (If you take your weapon with you or hand the weapon over you will be generously rewarded. You may not keep weapons. Remember, if the Viet Cong has no weapons they can’t continue the atrocious and continuing war. Every weapon that you bring with you to return will save the lives of many innocent people.)

When arriving near the patrol boat, you should show your goodwill by raising your hands. You need no safe conduct pass to rally. But if you have a pass or this leaflet, you can submit it. Leave the Viet Cong and their continuing struggle while you still have time.

A Second Version of the Same Leaflet

Years after I wrote the above, I ran across a leaflet that I thought was a new find. When I looked to place it in this article, I discovered that it was the same leaflet with mostly the same text, they had just moved the images of the boats around.  The translation is a bit different, but every translator will find the same text a bit different when converting the Vietnamese to English. Here is how the new translator read it:

To you who still are in the rank of Viet Cong.

These boats patrol the Mekong delta so compatriots can freely use the rivers like in the good old days.

They also help you leave the rank of the Viet Cong.

This is what you need to do:

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Leaflet 3577

This leaflet shows the usual Patrol Boat River but claims it is under Vietnamese control rather than U.S. Perhaps this leaflet was produced near the beginning of Vietnamization when the U.S. tried to hand over military affairs to the Vietnamese. The text explains in part:


Today, the Army of Vietnam is replacing the Allied forces as it steadily assumes the full responsibility for defending the country. The sea, air and ground forces of the Government of Vietnam are rapidly being equipped and trained in the use of modern weapons to thwart any aggression.

There is additional text on the back that says in part:

Recent battles between Republic of Vietnam forces and Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army troops serve as proof that you will never win a military victory in this war. All the blood spilled by your dead friends on the battlefield amount to useless sacrifices. The honorable way out for you is to rally. Then you can remake you like in Free South Vietnam.

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Handout 3578

This JUSPAO 5 x 7-inch handout has two photographs on the front and three on the back. They all have scenes of Vietnamese patrol boat members on the lookout for the Viet Cong. The leaflet was distributed in December of 1969. Some of the text is:


For the security of our compatriots, Navy patrol boats operate day and night on the streams and rivers. The Viet Cong try to use the waterway to transport weapons of war and foodstuffs taken from our compatriots. They also try to levy taxes on commodities our peasants bring to the market. Without these weapons, food and taxes, the Viet Cong would not be able to continue the war against the people. With your help, the Vietnamese river police can deny the Viet Cong the use of the rivers.

When the river police call, compatriots must stop. Honest people have nothing to fear. DON’T TRY TO TURN AWAY OR DRIFT TO THE BANKS. Always carry necessary legal papers and identity cards with you and show them to the river police when requested to do so….

Leaflet 2786

This leaflet depicts a Vietnamese Navy armed junk on patrol. The back bears a photograph of Vietnamese and American naval officers studying a map of suspected Viet Cong supply routes. The text on the front and back is: 


The junk force of the Vietnamese Navy is always present on its territorial water to intercept infiltration of the Communists from the North via waterway, and at the same time provide security to the people and crush aggressive plots of the Communists.

These two Vietnamese and American naval officers are determining suspected positions which could be the point of reception of cadres and weapons from the North. The combined activities of the Vietnamese and U.S. Navies have created many difficulties for the infiltration by waterway of the Communists.

Leaflet 19-79-67

This photograph was used more than once. You can see a second use in the 10th Battalion entry just below this one. This leaflet depicts a Navy PBR. The text says it is a Vietnamese boat, but it is flying an American flag. The text on the front is:

The Republic of Vietnam patrol boats inspect thousands of you every day... You may want to take this opportunity to tell the patrol boat about any Viet Cong activities and plans.

Patrol boats support the compatriots in all aspects. They prevent the Viet Cong from infiltrating from the river. They Maintain security and protect your possessions.

Apart from that, patrol boats also create the opportunity for the willing Viet Cong soldiers and cadres to return, and for you to strike back at the Viet Cong river bandits.

The text on the back is:

To the compatriots living in South Vietnam.

The government's request for your assistance.

The current war is about preserving freedom and prosperity of the Vietnamese people...We are fighting the VC reign of terror and their illegal deeds...Therefore the Government of Viet Nam calls for your assistance and loyalty.

The Government of Vietnam request that you report:

1 - Name and whereabout of Viet Cong terrorists.
2- Name and whereabout of local VC political cadres.
3- Name, position, logistics of VC soldiers and units.
4- Information on VC ambushes, hiding places and murderous actions.

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Leaflet 10-184-68

The 10th PSYOP Battalion printed this leaflet depicting a PBR in March of 1968. The crews of the “Patrol Boats, River” handed these leaflets out along the banks of the rivers they patrolled in the My Tho area. The text is mostly in Vietnamese but there is a short English language sentence at the end. The message on the front is:

Please; Help the U.S. PBR in order to get a reward

The Vietnamese message on the back reads in part:

Dear People, the Viet Cong often position weapons along the riverbank in order to shoot at the American PBRs. This will cause danger for the people. When these weapons are located there will be an airstrike and artillery fire and your life will not be secure. We ask the people to help the Government and the U.S. Navy. When you hear about or know of a weapons position, report it so that the PBR crew will know…If you show us where to capture or destroy a Viet Cong weapon, you will receive a reward of 50,000 Piasters.

The English-language massage at the bottom-back is:


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Leaflet 10-152-69

This leaflet was printed by the 10th PSYOP Battalion in 1969. The leaflet depicts an Armored Troop Carrier. An ATC could carry a full infantry platoon. It was armed with three 20mm cannon or an Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher and two 20mm cannon, up to two .50 caliber machine guns and four 7.62mm machine guns, two Mark 18 40mm grenade launchers, plus various small arms, the ATCs not only landed troops, but also re-supplied them and provided close-in fire support during operations.

It was protected by “stand-off” or bar armor, a series of 1-inch concrete reinforcing steel rods set about 12 to 18 inches from the boat’s hull and superstructure. The bar armor was designed to detonate an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) or recoilless rifle rounds before they hit the armor plate. “Stand-off armor” proved to be very effective against both hand held and crew served weapons used by the VC, and significantly reduced casualties and damage when a riverine craft was hit by enemy fire. Some ATCs were modified with a helicopter flight deck counted over the troop wells. The text on the back is:

To Our Compatriots Living Along the Rivers

The Government of the Republic of Vietnam sends patrol boats to protect you, to block communist infiltration, and to prevent the Communists from forcing you to pay taxes to them. You should help the patrol boats by telling them where Communist tax collection points are located, if you have precise information on those locations, or by telling them the locations of Viet Cong weapons caches. You will receive a reward.

Leaflet 246-76-68

This leaflet by the 246th PSYOP Company shows the same Armored Troop Carrier as is depicted in the leaflet above. The major difference is that instead of the helicopter pad in the above leaflet, this version of the boat seems to have a turret in the front. The text on the back is:

To Viet Cong friends willing to return to the Government of the Republic of Vietnam,

US Army and Navy servicemen are conducting operations on rivers in your area using green patrol boats as shown on the back of this leaflet. We welcome all who want to return. You will be well treated and warmly received. Follow the below instruction to return:

1. Hide your weapon and remember the place. You'll be later rewarded.

2. Approach the US green patrol boats without weapons and with your hands raised above your head.
3. US servicemen will ask you a few questions. You then come back for your weapon and receive a cash reward. Finally, you will be assigned to a local Chieu Hoi center so you can start your new life with the Government of the Republic of Vietnam.

Drop your weapon now and contribute to the construction of a prosperous and free Vietnam.

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Leaflet 2224

This October 1967 leaflet depicts Vietnamese fishermen pointing out Viet Cong boats to naval personnel at the left and a U.S. destroyer and smaller boat firing on and sinking a Viet Cong sampan at the right. The text on the front is:

To Defend Free Vietnam is the duty of every Vietnamese

Following the Viet Cong means suicide

The text on the back is:


The Communists have experienced bitter defeats in the bloody battles of Vietnam. Being baffled in the use of land communication lines to supply their troops, the Communists must use waterways to supply their blood-thirsty insurgents. They ship in money and weapons by sampans and small motor launches…

The United States and South Vietnamese warships are patrolling along the coastline to check the infiltration of Viet Cong boats and vessels into South Vietnam.

Therefore, to thwart the infiltration of Viet Cong criminal elements, and to bring peace to the country, you fishermen are required to submit to the searches conducted by the United States and South Vietnamese warships.

Your cooperation with the United States and South Vietnamese navies by immediately informing the warships or local authorities of any Viet Cong vessels you see is appreciated. The naval forces will search and immediately foil all their subversive attempts.

Note: The exact same vignette and message is found on the earlier JUSPAO leaflet coded SP-865.


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Leaflet T-04

This “threat” leaflet is designed to frighten the enemy by showing him the technological power and might of the American forces. Leaflet T-04 depicts a 175 mm cannon on the front. The back depicts a safe conduct pass at right, and text at the left:


This gun has not been aimed at you yet. If it had been aimed at you, you would not be reading these lines. This is a175 millimeter cannon. It shoots a 75 kilogram projectile more than 30 kilometers and is able to destroy everything in the target area.

Your chance to avoid this fate will come. Watch for your safe conduct pass which points the way for you to come across and live under the protection of the government of the Republic of Vietnam.

Over 14 million T-4 leaflets were dropped from the DMZ to Dong Hoi in October and November 1967 and again April and May 1968. I ran across an interesting evaluation of the Trail leaflets by an “Ad Hoc Leaflet Panel” dated 10 December 1970. They considered 40 leaflets over the course of one day and judged them on suitability with recommendations that the leaflets should be rejected, retained or modified. It is interesting to note that leaflet T-04 was listed as “rejected – the threat will not work.”

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Leaflet 246-81

The same artillery piece seems to appear on leaflet 246-81. 300,000 copies of leaflet 246-81 were prepared at the request of the U.S. 1st Division by the 246th PSYOP Company. The leaflet depicts a farmer working his field while what appears to be a self-propelled M107 175mm gun is in the background. The text says in part:

You have seen and heard the large cannon being used in this area to destroy the Viet Cong.These cannon have been brought here with the cooperation of the Government of Vietnam in order to protect you and your family…

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M107 175mm gun

Photographer Richard N. Levine of the 8th PSYOP Battalion spent a lot of time in the field taking pictures of American military might. This picture has never been published before and Richard simply called it “Big Gun.” It is the 175mm M107 self-propelled Cannon (sometimes called “Long Tom”) on an M48 tank chassis. The 175 got a bad reputation in Vietnam for burst barrels, which killed several crews. It was withdrawn from US service at the end of the war, though the Israeli Defense Forces still use them.

By the greatest of coincidence, I received an Email from Robert Fulwiler, (B Battery, 6/32nd Artillery (Ninh Hoa) 1970-1971), who knew that gun Bellowing Bear V. He said that the photo may have been intended to frighten the enemy; but in this case the 175mm gun was actually broken down on the side of QL-1 near Ninh Hoa.

Leaflet 246-344

The 246th PSYOP Company printed 100,000 of these crude leaflets telling the people that the roads were being cleared. As always, it mentions the power of the military, in this case the American rather than the Vietnamese military, and depicts American jets, helicopters, tanks, and warships at sea. The back is all text:

The Viet Cong is doomed. They are faced with the tremendous power of the Allied Forces. On the side of the Government of Vietnam are swarms of aircraft, the most modern artillery, deadly personal weapons, and tremendous naval power that can reach far inland. All this power is supported by unlimited manpower and resources. This area is now being cleared and will be policed by this powerful force. Victory for the Government of Vietnam is sure, defeat of the Viet Cong is inevitable.

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Leaflet 246-327-67

This leaflet was produced by the 246th PSYOP Company in 1967 and depicts what appears to be an M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer clearly marked with the designation “US Army,” with the main gun aimed directly at the reader. The text above the weapon is:

You Cannot Escape

The back of the leaflet is all text and threatens the Viet Cong with artillery:

This leaflet was delivered by an artillery shell. Artillery can reach any target. What do you think? You could be killed by the next artillery volley. What should you do? Rally to the government in accordance with the government's Chieu Hoi policy.

I should also add that I suspect the message is not telling the truth. Leaflets dispersed by artillery are exploded out of the shell and often have burns and singing and a wrinkled, crackled look. This leaflet is pristine and more likely dropped from an aircraft.

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Here is another unpublished photo by Richard N. Levine. This is a M114 155mm Towed “split tail” Howitzer.
That is Richard loading the 155. The artillerymen stood back and let him have some fun between the picture-taking.

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Leaflet 3941

On the subject of artillery, this leaflet depicts the Army of South Vietnam practicing their artillery fire and also contains a Chieu Hoi message. The text on the front is:


For the protection of the people’s welfare, the men of the Army of Vietnam artillery, day and night, develop their skills through arduous training in the techniques and tactics to be ready to stop the attacks and destruction by the Communists, and to defend the happy, peaceful life of the entire population.

The back is all text and says:


Your present struggle cannot end in success; it only causes the people of South Vietnam to have more hatred for you. Don’t cause any more deaths of innocent people, but take advantage of this alternative: follow the Chieu Hoi policy by rallying to the national government to build a new and happy life.

As you can see, this leaflet has been on the ground for a while and shows sign of heat and humidity. This leaflet is a 1971 bring-back from Specialist 4 Cavalry Scout Doug Kibbey of the 101st Airborne Division who found it in northern I Corps.

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Leaflet 4584

This leaflet depicts a South Vietnamese tank near the destroyed hulk of a North Vietnamese tank. The same image appears on other leaflets such as 4493, 4495 and 4496 as well as others. The text is:

A North Vietnamese tank destroyed by the armed forces of Vietnam at the Tri-Thien Front. Steel cannot withstand rockets and bombs. What will such weapons do to flesh and bones?

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Leaflet 3577 (Back)

This leaflet depicts a group of tanks flying the Vietnamese flags and tells the enemy that the Vietnamese are taking over a greater part of the defense of the homeland and will be victorious. Some of the text is:

Recent battles between the Army of Vietnam forces and the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops serve as proof that you will never win a military victory in this war. All the blood spilled by your deaf friends on the battlefield amount to useless sacrifices….

One assumes that "deaf friends" applies to those VC and NVA who have heard the broadcast requests to go "Chieu Hoi" and come over to the the government and rejected them.

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Leaflet 2738

Leaflet 2738 points out that the ARVN are armed with America’s M16 rifle. The leaflet depicts South Vietnamese Major General Nguyen Van Minh ceremoniously receiving his M-16 from U.S. Army Major General Hay.

I doubt that the Viet Cong were frightened by this revelation since they carried the AK47, one of the finest combat rifles ever made. At various times in my career I was issued the M1, the M1 carbine (ugh!), the M14 and the M16. The M16 was not held in very high regard and was sometimes called the “Mattel Toy” due to its plastic stock and hand guard. During the early days of the Vietnam War it was known to jam, mostly due to the ammunition and the barrel. As the war went on and improvements were made and even more important, everyone received cleaning kits, the weapon worked more efficiently. Technically known as the “Rifle, 5.56-mm, M16,” it weighed a bit over six pounds, was 39-inches long, had a maximum rate of fire of 45 to 65 rounds per minute on semiautomatic and 150 to 200 rounds per minute on full automatic. Its maximum effective range was 460 meters. It was fairly accurate at close range. I could shoot with M14s out to 200 meters; after that the big rifles ruled. Some of the text on the leaflet is:


Major General Hay presented an M16 rifle to Major General Nguyen Van Minh. General Nguyen Van Minh is the Security Chief of the Saigon Gia Dinh area. This M16 rifle is a symbol of the number of modern weapons that the United States will provide the Government of Vietnam Armed Forces.


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Leaflet P-09

Leaflets coded “P,” were original for PAVN (People’s Army of Vietnam), now NVA (North Vietnam Army), and targeted NVA inside South Vietnam. This interesting leaflet depicts four images of Allied might. At the upper left a row of armored personnel carriers, at upper right heavy naval guns firing, at the lower left a B-52 dropping bombs, and at lower right armed troops hitting the beach. The text is:

This awesome combined power means certain defeat for the aggressor

The back is all text:

Northern Soldiers – Your defeat is inevitable

Your mission is utterly hopeless. Vietnamese and Allied forces are growing stronger every day. They are present everywhere – on the land, on the sea and in the air. You cannot possibly win against this combined power. Day by day chances for survival grow small as you death from disease or battle wounds.

Cease this hopeless struggle. Avoid certain death by coming over to the Government of Vietnam and Allied forces. You will be warmly welcomed.

Live to see your families again.

Leaflet HQ-10-68

The code “HQ” stands the headquarters of the 6th Battalion, later the 4th Group for leaflet use in South Vietnam. This leaflet depicts four means of Allied power. There is an aircraft carrier, two images of artillery, and a Phantom Fighter. The text is:


The weapons pictured on the other side of this leaflet are of only a small portion of the types of weapons that are being used to combat North Vietnamese soldiers.  You have been in areas that have been hit by these weapons.  From far off the coast, many kilometers from the shoreline, warships can fire rockets/missiles deep inland.  The weapons shown here are just a few of the types of weapons that have been sent here to bombard your positions.

If you try to repair your gun positions and even if you bring in many more guns and more ammunition, the forces of the Republic of Vietnam and the allies will destroy them all.  It will be very painful for your families because nothing can replace you all in the hearts of your families in North Vietnam.

The Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the allies will continue to bomb and shell North Vietnam's warming capabilities.  Only when the Lao Dong Party ends its war of aggression in the South can peace return to both North and South Vietnam.


On occasion the U.S. PSYOP units would draw weapons as a living beast devouring the Viet Cong. I doubt it really scared them, but I suppose it was worth a try. A PSYOP Colonel once told me “we will try anything. You never know if an idea is good or bad until you try it out.” So, here are two monsters:

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Blackhorse Cavalry Tank

This uncoded leaflet depicts the insignia of the 11th Armored “Blackhorse” Cavalry. The ferocious tank chases and kills fleeing Viet Cong. The text on the front is:

Viet Cong Beware!!

The text on the back is:

There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide! The tanks and armored vehicles of the Blackhorse Regiment will find and destroy you! It is too late to fight. Beware, Viet Cong, we are everywhere! Rally now under the Chieu Hoi Program; it is your only hope to live!

The exact same image tank appears on leaflet 246-172-67. The text on that back of that leaflet says in part:

Attention Viet Cong Soldiers of the 275th Regiment

Do you wish to die in an unmarked grave?100 soldiers of the 275th Viet Cong Regiment were killed by the U.S. Army when they tried to ambush an 11th Armored Cavalry convoy on 2 December 1966. Many more were wounded. Your lives will always be in danger of bombs and artillery and you will be separated from your family…

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Leaflet F-019

This very strange leaflet depicts an animal-like helicopter with teeth and claws holding dead Viet Cong and the “1” on front signifying the 1st Infantry Division. The 246th PSYOP Company printed 50,000 copies of the leaflet for the 1st Infantry Division on 9 July 1966. The text says in part:

Attention Viet Cong!

Why do you continue to struggle and fight in hardship and misery for an unjust cause? How can you possibly hope to win against our overwhelming military superiority? One of the most fearsome airplanes at our disposal is the helicopter. The helicopter can search you out anywhere. It can hover over your positions and direct artillery and airstrikes against you. It can fly in low and surprise you with deadly machine-gun fire or rockets. It can land anywhere and bring troops right into your midst…


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Slogan 1840

In order to encourage the citizens of the Republic of Vietnam to join the armed forces and fight to protect their country, JUSPAO produced a number of 8 x 22-inch slogans in April 1967 with various patriotic statements. Slogan 1840 is

Discipline is the strength of the Army.

Other slogans in this series said:

The Army of the people must be friendly to the people and help protect them.

Being a young man, you should fulfill your military obligations to avoid scorn.

The gun and sword are part of a heroic life. Join the Army and live as a brave man.

Joining the Army is a concrete patriotic action.

The Army is the place for young men who want to develop their talents and strengths.

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Leaflet SP-56

This Joint United States Public Affairs Office leaflet attempts to build up the morale of the Vietnamese Army as well as the citizens of the Republic of Vietnam by bragging of the strength and bravery of their troops. The top depicts Communist Viet Cong sneaking into a village. The bottom cartoon depicts a Vietnamese soldier daring the Viet Cong to come out and fight. The text is:

The cowardly Communists can only hide themselves behind women and children to furtively attack.

Communist guerrillas: if you are brave come here; the soldiers of Tan Phu post are waiting for you.

The back is all text:

The courageous government soldiers could easily destroy the Communists and they will exterminate them.

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Leaflet 246-041

This leaflet depicts a lone Viet Cong soldier facing ARVN troops, helicopters, fighter aircraft, armored personnel carriers, cannon and tanks. The 246th PSYOP Company prepared 100,000 of these leaflets for use in III Corps. Some of the text is:

The Viet Cong and their sympathizers can no longer survive in this area. They are faced with the tremendous power of the Allied forces. On the side of the government are swarms of aircraft, the most modern light and heavy artillery and the most deadly personal weapons, all supported by the unlimited manpower and resources…

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Leaflet 3403

This leaflet was prepared in September 1969 to show the might of the Vietnamese Armed Forces. It depicts a Vietnamese artillery unit in action on the front and the text:


The back is all-text and says in part:

The Navy, Air Force and Army of the Republic of Vietnam today are assuming more and more of the responsibility of fighting the Communists to defend the sea, air and land territories of the country, determined to thwart the Communist’s attempt at taking over the Free South. Artillery soldiers are always ready to rain shells on the heads of the Communists to protect the people’s peaceful and happy life.

Your meaningless struggle will not bring about victory. Peace will come only when you lay down your arms and come back to cooperate with the Republic of Vietnam Government to build a South Vietnam free of Communist domination.

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Leaflet 3722

Leaflet 3722 depicts a Vietnamese armored personnel carrier (APC) and an artillery piece. The United States used M113 and M114 armored personnel carriers in Vietnam and because of its size, this would appear to be the M113. Cannons are always hard for the non cannon-cocker to identify, but the size of this one implies that it could be a M114 version of the 155mm howitzer. The text on the front is:

How can you survive?

Text on the back warns the Communists that the ARVN is training with modern weapons and have the ability to protect the people.

To discourage Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army shelling and attacks and provide security for the civilian population, the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces have applied modern combat techniques to discourage terrorists and thwart the aggressive plots of the Communists.

Save yourself by responding to the Dai Doan Ket Campaign and help rebuild our nation.

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Leaflet 6-1088-69

This may seem a bit out of place because although I originally thought the ARVN in this leaflet were on APCs and it was a military image.  I later realized that next to those armored personnel carriers were bulldozers. It is not only weapons that win the war. Here the Vietnamese tell their enemies that they are clearing land with those bulldozers so that infiltrators can be seen and hit by artillery and aircraft. Of course, they were also clearing the land with defoliants, but that is another story. The text on the front is:

You Will Have No Place to Hide

The text on the back is:

Attention Communist Officers and Men!

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam and their Allies are now carrying out a program to clear the dense jungle vegetation. During this operation gigantic bulldozers have uncovered and destroyed many of your rice caches and tunnels. When they had to cross through the cleared areas many of your comrades have become the targets of Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam and allied artillery guns and helicopter gunships.

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Leaflet 3595

Several of the leaflets depict ARVN helicopters. Leaflet 3595 depicts an ARVN medical helicopter. Some of the text is:

If you are wounded, try to remain in the battle area. You will be located, provided medical care by ARVN troops, and evacuated to a suitable hospital if required where adequate supplies, modern equipment and medical doctors will take care of you to restore your health.

Leaflet 3039

This December 1968 leaflet depicts a medical helicopter on one side and a doctor treating a patient on the other. I placed it here because it fits best near other medivac-themed leaflets. The text is very long so I will just translate some small parts. The leaflet has the theme of modern medivac facilities. Some of the text is: 


Quickly evacuating the wounded from the battlefield is one of the essential ways to save the wounded. Although the Viet Cong medivac system works some of the time, most of their seriously wounded have died on the way to the hospital because they cannot endure the long period of evacuation. 

Thanks to this modern and fast evacuation system, 90% of the wounded South Vietnamese and Allied forces as well as the communist troops left on the battlefield have been saved.  

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Leaflet 3733

This leaflet depicts ARVN troops near an APC and going into battle in helicopters. Text on the front is:

Equipment and determination like this is the reason for the Republic of Vietnam Armed Force’s superiority.

Text on the back is:


Today the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces has been modernized with up-to-date weapons and equipment. With effective air-mobile operations, the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces can be deployed immediately to any battlefield, weather on land, swamps, rivers, sea, or in the air. With fully combat trained and highly motivated personnel, the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces today can easily crush the aggressive attempts of the Communists. Friends who are on the other side and have contacted the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces, you must realize that the hope of final victory is impossible.

Why continue to suffer hardships and privations, when it is certain that you will give your lives uselessly while your Communist leaders in Hanoi lead a life of safety and well-being.


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Leaflet 3780

Leaflet 3780 depicts ARVN troops about to be carried to war on helicopters. Some of the text is:


Here is a picture of Republic of Vietnam soldiers with their combat gear, waiting to be taken by a squadron of helicopters to battlefields to destroy the Communist rebels

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Leaflet 3963

Leaflet 3963 depicts a Vietnamese soldier manning a minigun on an attack helicopter. There were several miniguns modified for helicopters and it is difficult to be sure exactly which one this is, but I suspect it is the M134 modified to fire 7.62 rounds. The text is:

The Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces are stronger than ever.

A similar message is found on a 6th PSYOP Battalion all-text leaflet coded 6-1132-69. The text says in part:

Dear Compatriots,

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam is getting stronger and our weapons are more modern. As a result, the ARVN has beat back all of the Communist attacks during their spring, summer and fall 1969 campaigns. Realizing that the ARVN is fully capable of assuming responsibility of the war, the President of the United States just decided to withdraw 50,800 more soldiers from now to 15 April 1970. This decision doesn't mean that the United States is compromising. In fact, this highlights the growing strength of the ARVN…

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Leaflet 2787

The United States wanted to stress the point that the Vietnamese Armed Forces had the full support of the American military. An entire series of leaflets was disseminated depicting US and Vietnamese forces working together. Leaflet 2787 depicts two Americans and two Vietnamese officers studying maps; 2788 shows an American and a Vietnamese officer discussing plans for an attack; 2790 depicts an American and Vietnamese commander checking the location of a Viet Cong hideout and 2792 features American and Vietnamese radio operators side by side. Some of the text on leaflet 2787 is:

These four Vietnamese and American officers are carefully studying a map to pinpoint the Communist hideouts. This manifests the close fighting spirit of men who are standing on the same front line and are fighting together for the same ideology: FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY.

Leaflet 2799

As I looked at this leaflet it occurred to me that it was not only the Vietnamese Army that might be considered a weapon, but it was also the various militias and self-defense organizations that pledged to defend their country. Here we see some volunteer self-defense forces. On the front they seem to be taking an oath or swearing allegiance. The text is:


The back is all text:


a. To mobilize the entire population for participation in the war.
b. To create a force to defend our villages and cities to increase the availability of troops to the armed forces at the front.
c. To unify the people’s will to defend the National Righteous Cause in the political struggle against the enemy.
d. To create a popular force which supports the voice of the nation at the international conference table.
e. To support every aspect of an all-out, long, and difficult war to advance toward self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and self-determination.
f. To make general mobilization a reasonable national policy by utilizing the national potential equally in all fields of activity. This will permit the fighting to be carried on without impeding national production because the rear echelons are actively supporting the fighting men. It is everybody’s responsibility to protect our nation.

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Leaflet 1746

After the Allied victory of Operation Cedar Falls, JUSPAO printed 10 million leaflets on 25 February 1967 to tell the nation about the great victory. The front of the leaflet depicts 3.3 million kilos of captured rice with the text:


This is just a part of the more than 3.3 million kilos of rice belonging to the National Liberation Front and seized by the National Army.

The back is a long all-text message so I will just mention a few pertinent comments:

The Saigon-Cholon-Gia Dinh command headquarters of the NFL, with all its supplies, defenses and documents, as well as 700 cadre, has been captured by the Army of Vietnam….The NFL, already short of supplies, lost 3.3 million kilos of rice, 8.7 million kilos of salt, 75 individual and crew-served weapons, 7,622 uniforms, 1,099 grenades, and 392 mines…720 NFL soldiers were killed, over 700 suspects detained and another 503 voluntarily returned to the GVN through the Chieu Hoi program. When your present rations and equipment are exhausted, what will happen to you?

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The Vietnamese Rangers

The Americans were not the only one producing propaganda for the Vietnamese Army. Here is one made by the Vietnamese for their own people. I am told it could be found in the larger cities and towns. The text is:

The Rangers are one of the best Branches in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Viet Nam.

Join the Rangers and you will have all the rights of a soldier in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Viet Nam.

Volunteering for the Rangers means you did your duty as a man when the nation was in crisis.

To protect the Motherland, you must join the Rangers.

All the young boys dream about becoming an ARVN Ranger.

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Vietnamese Ranger Badge

I want to add a few words about the Rangers here. I had a Special Forces buddy named Jack Diamondstein. He had deployed to Vietnam very early. He was assigned to advise a Vietnamese Ranger unit. He loved them and they loved him presented him with the Ranger badge. He had been shot square in the ass leaving the area after a dangerous mission where he saw all his Rangers on the helicopter first before he climbed aboard. We always teased him about what kind of a hero gets shot in the butt. He did the right thing, first man out, last man in.

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This is Jack's old riding jacket bearing the badge at the lower right.
It was put on display when his death was commemorated at his local fire department where he had served as a volunteer.

Skip ahead 40 years and he is riddled with cancer from Agent Orange. He wanted to be buried wearing his green beret and his Ranger badge. We all made sure that happened. It was a big deal to Jack and so it was a big deal to us.


Can these leaflets showing the might of the government and its allies actually be worthless in some cases? Apparently yes, according to the JUSPAO November 1968 publication Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets:

Continuously impress the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army forces with the present and growing strength of the Government of Vietnam, United States and friendly forces. But do not exaggerate our military capabilities. One leaflet said, “The National Government’s heavy artillery shells and powerful troops will certainly wipe out every one of you in the near future.” Another said, “If you stop vehicles on the highway to levy taxes, ambush troops now maintaining our compatriot’s security will exterminate every one of you." These threats go beyond reality. They are not credible, and therefore they are not effective. Keep the enemy forces constantly aware of the danger of death, but do not tell them they will die tomorrow.

Can the Communists use the gradual replacement of U.S. forces by ARVN forces to their propaganda advantage? Yes. Joint PSYOP Policy 83 entitled Troop Replacement points out that the Communists are claiming that they have defeated U.S. forces and obliged them to leave. Some South Vietnamese may feel abandoned. The Communists might seek to weaken South Vietnamese morale by demonstrating that ARVN forces are inferior to U.S. Forces.

What is the American answer to such an argument? Prepare PSYOP to convince the people that the Republic of Vietnam is strong and able to protect contested areas without U.S. help. The propagandists should heavily publicize the turning over of modern equipment to ARVN forces, and advertise the programs that train ARVN troops to use the new equipment and improve their fighting ability.

This is just a brief look at the Allied attempt to frighten the Vietnam Communists with the might of the military forces of the Republic of Vietnam and the United States of America. We will add more items from time to time as we find them in our files.

As always, readers are encouraged write with comments or suggestions. The author can be contacted at .

End: 12 December 2007