SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)
Note: Perspectives, the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association said in its issue Volume 30, Number 1, Spring 2020: “We highly recommend reading this article."
The subject of reward leaflets used by the United States and the Government of Vietnam during the Vietnam War is intimidating. The problem is not a shortage of data, but because there is so much information available on the subject. To study such a large category of psychological operations (PSYOP), we must make certain arbitrary decisions. We must decide if we will mention all rewards, or just a specific category of rewards. For instance, The Allies have offered rewards for both friendly and enemy individuals, human remains, large enemy military units, intelligence information, and various types of military hardware and materiel. In this article, we will illustrate and discuss all of the various types of reward leaflets, illustrating a few of each type and attempting to depict a variety of PSYOP techniques.
1LT Flynn Reward Leaflet - flying an A1e Skyraider
(Leaflet Courtesy of R. E. Baldwin)
One of the earliest reward leaflets of the Vietnam War was produced in 1966. The leaflet pictures an A1E Skyraider fighter-bomber. The text is:
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.
(Signed) U.S. 2nd Air Division.
This leaflet is coded SP-188.
Despite our best efforts, Lieutenant Flynn, who disappeared when his A1E Skyraider went down, was never rescued nor did he return with the other American POWs at the end of the Vietnam War . His remains were recovered 13 January 1974 and were positively identified on 13 January 1976. George Edward Flynn III is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 1E, Row 64.
It would appear that $35,000VN was the going price for pilots in those early years of the war. An even earlier leaflet without illustration has the text:
A reward of $35,000VN will be paid for information leading to the recovery of an American pilot and his parachute who jumped from a two-engine aircraft on 23 November 1963.
The aircraft crashed 5000 meters northeast of Xa Bo Dap on that day and the pilot jumped from the airplane about 1600 meters north of that spot just before the aircraft hit the ground.
$17,500VN will be paid for information more recent than 1 December 1963, leading to the recovery of the pilot's parachute alone.
If you have any information about either the pilot or the parachute, contact the District Chief, or the Province Chief, or the Commander of the ARVN, civil guard or self defense corps unit who will notify the Commander of the 2nd Air Division or the Commander VNAF.
The leaflet is coded SP-61. We discuss the SP leaflet in greater depth later in this article.
The International Herald Tribune of 17 July 1967 features an article with the headline "Pledge in 16 Million Leaflets - U.S. Offers '50 taels of Gold' For Aid to Downed Pilots." The article, postmarked "Saigon" says, "The United States has offered a reward of 50 taels of gold to North Vietnamese who help American pilots shot down in North Vietnam escape. The gold is worth about $760. The offer was made late last night when American planes showered some 16 million gold-colored leaflets over North Vietnam's southern areas.
The leaflet is coded 72 and has the heading in inch-high letters:
50 Taels of Gold
The low number of this leaflet means that it was dropped on
during President Nixons bombing campaign. The back is a statement by United States Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker. Some of the text is: North Vietnam
Helping American pilots and other U.S. military personnel escape to freedom can bring you 50 taels of gold.
If you see an American who has parachuted to the ground or who has escaped capture, do not be afraid. Approach him. Make him understand you wish him no harm by raising your hands.
Help him in any way you can.
Hide him from hostile authorities.
Cooperate with him in finding his way to safety.
You may escape to freedom or return home just as you choose.
You will be paid the 50 taels of gold at the time the American is rescued or at any other time you wish. You may collect the reward in gold bullion or in the equivalent amount of any currency you choose. Payable in any free world country you choose.
United States Ambassador to South Vietnam
On the subject of gold, Major Nelson Volk of the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam told me that some of his artists and printers received offers of gold for simply going over and working for the Viet Cong. Apparently the enemy realized the power of propaganda. It seems a strange story but Volk says:
Dont recall if I mentioned this before, but printing presses and their operators were of course valuable items to both sides in Viet-Nam. A couple of our operators were approached at different times by the other side to come and work for them. All living expenses, a large gold payment, and interesting fringe benefits were offered. By the way, we found one Saigon printer doing work for both sides - what tipped us off were common marks in the type being used.
The reward offer for downed pilots in North Vietnam was made again in leaflet 72A. This one says in part:
How to Help the Communist-Fighters Return
If you see a Communist-fighter parachuting to earth or escaping capture, dont be frightened. You should walk up to him, raising your hands to show your friendship and that you have nothing that can harm him. Take him to a place where he will not be found by the authorities. Help him if he is injured in any way. Cover him from sight if you have to transport him by boat or car.
Soon after you have helped him to a safe place, he will be rescued and your great humanitarian act will be richly rewarded. You and your family may enjoy a safe and easy life in Free Vietnam, or, if you prefer to remain in the North, your rescue work will be rewarded immediately by a gift of 15,000 dong.
Sometimes our POWs did make it back. On October 29, 1963, Special Forces Officer 1st Lieutenant James "Nick" Rowe was one of several special forces advisors assisting the Vietnamese government in the training, equipping and employment of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) forces. The team (Detachment A-23) left their camp at Tan Phu for the village of Le Coeur. Along the way they ran into an ambush and Rowe was captured. For 62 months, Rowe battled dysentery, beri-beri, fungal diseases, and grueling psychological and physical torment. Each day he faced the undermining realization that he might be executed, or worse, kept alive, but never released. His home was a wooden cage, three feet by four feet by six feet in dimension. His bed was a sleeping mat. In spite of all this, Rowe was a survivor. From the start of his capture, he began looking for ways to resist his captors while he could make plans for his escape. Rowe made several unsuccessful escape attempts which only resulted in furthering angering his captors. Finally in December 1968, his captors had had enough with his refusal to accept the communist ideology and his continued escape attempts, Rowe was scheduled to be executed.
On 31 December 1968, while away from the camp in the U Minh forest, Rowe took advantage of a sudden flight of American helicopters. He struck down his guards, and ran into a clearing where the helicopters noticed him and rescued him, still clad in black prisoner pajamas.
Nick Rowe's Leaflet
Courtesy of Former 1SG Garry Arva
Stanley Sandler says in Cease Resistance: It's Good for You: A History of U.S. Army Combat Psychological Operations, 1999: "The experience of one Special Forces Office, Lt. James 'Nick' Rowe, formed the basis for at least one US PSYOP leaflet. Rowe had been held in a Viet Cong bamboo cage for no less than five years, but just before his escape he had noticed that his captors were confused and bewildered because their old sanctuaries were being invaded by what had been dismissed by their cadres as 'weak' United States and Government of Vietnam forces. Many of them would have liked to give up the struggle but were afraid of being killed while trying to defect. A leaflet was quickly printed up with a message from Lt. Rowe reassuring his former captors that they would be welcomed and treated decently."
Eighteen hours after his escape, 100,000 copies of a leaflet in Rowe's own handwriting were dropped over the U Minh Combat Zone offering a reward of 600,000 $VN and fair treatment to anyone bringing more American prisoners to the Government Zone. The text of the leaflet read:
To Fighters and Cadre in This Area
I am First Lieutenant Rowe. On 31 December 1968 I was liberated by American and ARVN forces. I am now in a hospital feeling very good, and have met with my friends. I miss you and want you to also be treated well, instead of being shot down on the field. In these past few days I saw this clearly: the information I received in prison about the war, about the troop morale of RVN and American soldiers, about the victory of the Liberation troops, is completely untrue.
At the present time it is clear that RVN soldiers are ready to fight, American helicopters are powerful, and you cannot win. I appeal to you to surrender when you see RVN soldiers or American helicopters. Don't be afraid of being beaten or shot to death. I promise you that you will be treated well and you will be provided a mosquito net, clothes, food, etc. You allowed me to live and now I want you to live. If you bring more American prisoners to the Government Zone, you will be awarded 600,000 $VN and be treated very well.
Lieutenant Rowe documented his POW experience in a book titled Five Years to Freedom. He also went on to attain the rank of Colonel and became a legend in the world of Special Forces. You can learn more about Colonel Rowe and his untimely death by assassination by clicking here.
10th PSYOP Battalion
Lieutenant Rowe's leaflet is coded 10-070-6. The 10 in the code signifies that the leaflet was printed by the 10th Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Battalion. In IV Corps, the 10th PSYOP Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group was formed from the 19th PSYOP Company at Can Tho, where it operated until it departed Vietnam on 16 April 1971.
The declassified secret USAF report: Psychological Operations Air Support in Southeast Asia June 1968 May 1971 mentions the reward for prisoners campaign and admits that it was not successful.
The Rewards programs were various leaflet campaigns which offered payment to Vietnamese for assistance given to and information regarding the location of downed U.S. flyers or other detained allied personnel. This type of program had begun in June 1968 with a campaign called Elephant Walk which advised the indigenous population that they would be paid large sums of money for assistance in the rescue and return of allied personnel or lesser sums for information which would lead to their rescue. Leaflets were dropped in the vicinity of suspected prisoner camps. The 9th Special Operations Squadron supported the program with an approximate monthly leaflet drop of 1.2 million leaflets. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the results from the program were disappointing. Leaflets had to be precisely placed in areas bordering known prison camps but the camps were constantly being moved. Appeals based on cash rewards were unsuccessful with the communist sympathizers living near the camps because they seemed convinced the communist cause was just or they feared reprisal. Prison camps were located in areas of low population density.
Passing out reward leaflets
U. S. Navy Reward leaflet 245-65-68
Since we show coastal forces passing out leaflets above we should show one of the actual leaflets. This leaflet was produced by the U.S. Army 245th PSYOP Company in Nha Trang in 1967. 200,000 copies of this leaflet were requested by the U.S. Navy to ask that the people inform on the Viet Cong and NVA forces along the coastline. The leaflet depicts three coastal vessels used by the United States forces. Some of the text is:
DO YOUR PATRIOTIC DUTY AND YOU WILL BE REWARDED!
To the compatriots living along the seacoast and rivers:
Do you have information regarding the current activities of the Viet Cong of North Vietnamese Army in your area? If so, and this information can be favorably acted on by friendly forces, you can be of great assistance in returning peace to you homeland and also eligible for a reward. Bring the information to the people on one of the type of boats pictured on this leaflet
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:
U.S. NAVY: PLEASE ESCORT BEARER SAFELY TO THE U.S. NAVY BASE AT MY THO
This 1967 leaflet also depicts American and South Vietnamese boats. On the front a Communist supply ship and two Allied boats are depicted. A young Vietnamese citizen calls an officer and tells him where the Communists have unloaded their supplies. In the last picture he is handed a stack of banknotes for doing his patriotic duty. The back of the leaflet pictures the Communist ship in greater detail and then the beach covered with tons of war materials.
To Friends in River Ports and Seaside Areas:
1. If you see a North Vietnamese vessel like the one pictured above
2. Contact a South Vietnamese or American patrol vessel like one of those pictured below, or contact local authorities.
3. Report what you saw.
4. You will receive a cash reward and you will be protected.
The reward programs in Vietnam were endless. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) proposed "Operation Fast Buck" in November 1966. The Chiefs patterned it after Operation Moolah, the Korean War campaign where the U. S. offered $50,000 to any Communist pilot who would defect with a MiG-15. This time the JCS wanted a MiG-21. They recommended that $150,000 be paid for the first aircraft and $25,000 for the second. The U.S. would pay $25,000 to enemy pilots who defected by parachuting into the at sea.
Bruce Kinsey mentions rewards in GOOD GUYS: The Quiet Americans Who Worked to Pacify Vietnam:
Another effective appeal offered cash rewards for weapons a defector turned in. Rewards varied from time to time, but in 1970 ranged from the GVN equivalent of US$10 for a pistol and $25 for a rifle to $336 for an anti-tank gun. Small bounties were also paid for rice, salt and ammunition. Partial rewards were even offered for a long list of weapon parts. (One can imagine a group of green-eyeshaded bureaucrats spending months working that list out.) In a society so cluttered with weapons, the loss of weapons to the VC meant little. The real value of the reward system was to help a defector establish his bona fides to Chieu Hoi authorities, and to promise him a bit of money to start his new life.
The PSYOP/POLWAR Newsletter, Volume IV, No. 10, 31 October 1969 says, "The Government of Vietnam's newest reward program was announced in a communiqué issued on 3 October 1969 by the General Political Warfare Department of the RVNAF Joint General Staff. As of this date, the Republic of Vietnam will generously reward North Vietnamese pilots, skippers, or crewmembers returning to the Just National Cause with an enemy aircraft, ship, tank, or with certain other weapons. The ralliers will be rewarded with 100 to 1000 taels of gold, depending on the value of the equipment they bring. The Republic of Vietnam and the RVNAF will warmly welcome the ralliers, provide them with security and protection and facilities necessary for their livelihood in Free Vietnam." At the time, 100 taels were worth approximately $11,000.
Three years later the top secret MACV-SOG Command History reported, "The program for immediate monetary rewards to indigenous civilians was continued. Recipients were those who helped US captured or missing personnel return to friendly control, providing information, returned equipment or other evidence that revealed the status of US personnel, or returned remains of US personnel. During 1971, the Allies paid a total of $1925 for the return, remains, or information that led to the return of remains and help in recovery operations. The early months of 1972 saw $400 paid for similar actions.
The Allies dropped 98,336,000 leaflets over South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in 1971 to advertise the rewards program. The reward operations leaflet program during 1971 and 1972 were Operations Brown Stallion, Buffalo Track, and Elephant Walk. American PSYOP specialists printed the leaflets in Lao, Vietnamese and Cambodian with "pointee-talkee" pictures for illiterates. They dropped another 32,200,000 reward leaflets in early 1972. The following monetary rewards were authorized to indigenous civilians: $5,000 for returning US personnel, $500 for information leading to the return of US personnel, $400 for return of a body to friendly forces, and $150 for authentic information of status or location. The offers on the leaflets are in Vietnamese currency.
Loudspeaker tapes were also used to offer rewards for American prisoners. 7th PSYOP Battalion Tape T7-501-71 says:
If anyone has any information regarding American Missing in action or Prisoners of war, please report it immediately to the nearest American unit or to any Government of Vietnam or Army of Vietnam unit.
Once the information is confirmed the informer will receive 41,250 piasters. His identity will be withheld.
JUSPAO Tape 118 was 48 seconds long and said:
Compatriots: Those who return under the Chieu Hoi program are warmly welcomed, well-treated and assisted in many ways. Rewards for your weapons vary from $5,000 for a sub-machine gun up to $75,000 for a heavy mortar. The Government pledges that each returnee will have full citizenship in the Republic of Vietnam, medical treatment, and reunion with his family, assistance in finding a job, and financial assistance for food, clothing, lodging, furniture and building materials. Return Now! Chieu Hoi!
Military Assistance Command Vietnam Reward Card
MACV prepared a lot of leaflets and pamphlets that featured pictographs rather than words, because populations in target areas were largely illiterate. Notice there is no text on the front of this card. An American soldier simply hands money to a member of a small Vietnamese group that seems to be pointing to a safe direction. The card itself is completely plastic like an early credit card, made to last in the tropical heat and dampness of Indochina.
The back is all text in the foreground while in the background a hand holds a pile of banknotes. It is MACV Form 110 dated 15 May 1971. The text is:
U.S. Armed Forces
I need your help to return home. I do not speak your language. I have run into trouble and so I am asking for your help. Please take me to someone who can protect me and help me to return to my own people. My government will give you a monetary reward and will be grateful to you.
Please help me to return home.
Propaganda and safe-conduct passes and leaflets were produced under the jurisdiction of the Joint U. S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO). JUSPAO was formed in July 1965, following 11 years of increasingly uncoordinated and inefficient psychological operations that began in summer of 1954 during Vietnam's transition from French rule. JUSPAO was given authority for all propaganda activities in an effort to end disputes and lack of coordination between Americans and Vietnamese and between American military and civilian agencies. With a civilian director (initially, Barry Zorthian) reporting to the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), JUSPAO integrated the psychological operations of the U.S. Information Service (USIS, USIA's overseas arm), The State Department's U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Joint Chief's Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), and the U.S. Embassy.
Money for Guns Reward program
JUSPAO carried out extensive campaigns to induce North Vietnamese troops to surrender. The bulk of money and attention was focused on the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) program to encourage Viet Cong to "rally" to the cause of the Republic of Vietnam. Begun in 1963 and administered by JUSPAO after its formation in 1965, the Chieu Hoi campaign resulted in billions of leaflets, millions of posters, magazines, and leaflets, and thousands of hours of loudspeaker exhortations encouraging Viet Cong defection; this is said to have been the largest propaganda campaign in history, with over 10 billion leaflets dropped in 1969 alone. In addition to offering amnesty and good treatment, monetary rewards were offered and paid to defectors who turned in weapons. Rewards were offered to third parties who induced Viet Cong to defect, with special bonuses for mass defections. These schemes were highly successful and were extended through 1969, but were terminated on 31 December 1969, possibly because of abuses in awarding the money.
Display of weapons collected
J. A. Koch authored an Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) report in January 1973 entitled: The Chieu Hoi Program in South Vietnam, 1963-1971. He says about the reward program in Vietnam:
No discussion of the factors motivating defection is complete without mention of the carefully structured program of rewards proffered to those who rally and indeed even to those who influence a Viet Cong to rally It is of course crucial that rewards be paid promptly, be equitable, and in line with those previously paid. One snag developed in the Chieu Hoi reward system: Allied units to whom the VC rallied were prone to keep the weapons brought in (as trophies), refusing to issue the necessary receipt to the returnee. In order to ensure the credibility of the reward program, such practices should be forbidden and made subject to severe penalties.
The weapons reward system was established by Decree No. 0144 of September 18, 1964, issued by Nghiem Xuan Hong, then Special Commissioner for Chieu Hoi. The system and rates for weapons brought in (from VN$800 for a pistol to VN$20,000 for a 75mm recoilless rifle) were reaffirmed in 1967 by the basic decree covering the organization and functioning of the Chieu Hoi Program (see Appendix 5). CORDS kept pressing for higher rewards, partly to increase inducement and partly to keep pace with inflation. In July 1967 (by Decree No. 148), rates for weapons turned in by ralliers were again increased, and by March 1970 the rate ranged from VN$1,200 (approximately U.S.$10) for a hand weapon to as much as VN$1 million for leading allied troops to large enemy caches.
Funds for payment of the awards were calculated in the 1967 Chieu Hoi budget on the basis of a possible 2,000 cases and an average award of VN$3,500 per case. Awards were paid according to an official table of prices (see Appendix 5). From 1967 through 1970, some 25,129 weapons were turned in. Yet the cost of the program was miniscule in proportion to the gain:
Readers will note that at different times, different amounts were paid for various weapons. This would make sense as certain weapons became more available and more dangerous for Allied soldiers and Vietnamese civilians, or inflation set in requiring more to be paid. It is possible that there were also times when the reward cash was not so easily available and the prices for weapons went down. Whatever the reason, there seems to be many changes in the amount paid for weapons over the course of the war. JUSPAO leaflet 2082 is an example of this. 80,000 copies of the leaflet were printed. There are 20 weapons listed on the front and on the back another nine weapon components. Some of the text is:
The rates of rewards for weapons brought back by returnees are now changed as follows as of 12 July 1967:
Pistol, all types 1,200
Burp-gun, local made 1,500
Mortar or mortar barrel 60mm 50,000
Recoilless rifle, 82mm 60,000
Bolt, submachine gun 2,000
Sight, 57mm recoilless rifle 10,000
Cocking, 75mm recoilless rifle 25,000
Early in the war JUSPAO prepared leaflet SP-769. The "SP" indicated "Special Project" and was proof to the Viet Cong that the leaflet was American. Since it was desired that the people believe that these leaflets were coming from their own government, the "SP" was soon removed from the code. This leaflet is an excellent product and depicts two scenes on the front. In the first, two Vietnamese civilians surrender rifles to an ARVN soldier. In the second, they are handed banknotes for those weapons. The text on the front is:
Present this leaflet along with a weapon to the Special Forces Camp.
You will be rewarded as well as escape from Viet Cong terrorism.
The back illustrates various weapons and lists the current prices that the government will pay for them Some of the prices are; pistol $800VN, grease gun $2,000, mortar $8,000 to 10,000 (depending on size), and $5,000 to 6,300 for a heavy machinegun (depending on caliber). The text is:
The Special Forces will reward you depending upon each weapon that you hand in.
Reward Receipt for Weapons
In this article we will show a dozen or more leaflets that offer a reward for weapons. Not many people are aware of what happens after such weapons are turned in. Here on 24 June 1968, a Vietnamese individual named Ngo Ba Khac of Da Nang, probably a Viet Cong who has gone Chieu Hoi, signs a receipt that shows he has received $32,200 in Vietnamese currency for handing over a machinegun, a rocket propelled grenade launcher, an M79 grenade launcher (blooper), and three assault rifles. The receipt also protects the U.S. Army officer who paid the Vietnamese since it leaves a paper trail and shows that the cash was used in a legal purchase.
Turned in weapons on dispay. The two on the left are RPG7s
and the two on the right are Soviet-designed light machine guns.
I selected this leaflet because it falls into several themes. For instance, although it is a reward leaflet depicting an RPD automatic weapon, it is also a Chieu Hoi leaflet and surrender pass. The text on the front is:
OPEN ARMS REWARD
You can use this leaflet as a passport to return.
If you dont have this leaflet, you will still be welcomed.
The text on the back explains all the advantage of rallying:
Each Returnee Will Receive from the Government:
1. Good treatment.
2. Citizenship papers.
3. Health care at the
. Open Arms Center
Reunionwith his family.
5. 30 Piasters for food each day.
6. 200 Piasters pocket money each month while living at the
. Open Arms Center
7. Reward for returned weapons - 500 to 7,800 Piasters.
8. Two suits of clothing valued at 1,000 Piasters.
9. 1,000 Piasters for transportation to go home.
10. Help in finding a job.
11. Returnees living in the Open Arms village will receive: cement, metal roofing material, 10,000 Piasters for building costs, 2,000 Piasters for furniture, and a six-month supply of rice.
Leaflet SP-951A "Money for Guns"
Note: this leaflet was also disseminated with the Joint United States Public Affairs Office code number SP-951A. It was printed in two sizes; 214 mm x 72 mm and 150 mm x 75 mm. Both of the leaflets were printed with blue ink and are virtually identical on the front. The back has the identical text but the images are slightly different. In the longer leaflet an ARVN soldier walks with his arm around a Viet Cong rallier. In the shorter leaflet just the head of the ARVN solider and Viet Cong fighter are depicted. This leaflet was also printed as a classified leaflet for Cambodia coded CP-01.
TO ALL LOYAL VIET CONG.
The government of the Republic of Viet Nam will reward and assist you if you come back to the R.V.N.
*24 Piasters for food/rice every day
*24 Piasters every day for your wife
*12 Piasters every day for each of your children
*Will also include other (undisclosed) considerations
For all of the WEAPONS that you bring back, there is a reward according to the type you bring .
800 Piasters for a pistol
1000 Piasters for an AK-47 or M-1 rifle
1200 Piasters for an SKS 7.62 semi/automatic carbine
2000 Piasters for an M-3 "Grease Gun"
3500 Piasters for an RPD light machine gun
5000 Piasters for a 30 caliber medium machine gun
6300 Piasters for a 51 caliber heavey machine gun
The back of the short version of leaflet SP-951A
COMPATRIOTS IN THE VIET CONG
Here are instructions that will help you return home to the just National Cause.
Keep one of the Republic of Vietnam safe conduct passes. Hide it carefully and await a favorable time to return.
Wait patiently for a favorable opportunity; continue to demonstrate complete loyalty to the Viet Cong to avoid suspicion.
When the opportunity comes, seize it. Leave the Viet Cong ranks at once and return to your family.
If you can escape only at night, seek a hiding place. Report only in the daytime. Hide your weapon before reporting. After reporting, you can show friendly forces where the weapon is hidden and receive your reward.
Always keep the safe conduct pass hidden on your body. If you have an unexpected chance to return to the National Government, or if accidentally arrested, you can show your good intention of going back home and to the just cause.
Regardless of your situation, day or night, if you are investigated, show the safe conduct pass and be warmly received as a friend.
Defector Vu Tuan Anh
Vu Tuan Anh, a sergeant in the North Vietnamese Regular Armys 320th Division holds his Chinese Communist manufactured AK-40 automatic rifle which he brought with him when he defected. Sergeant Anh received 2000 piasters for the weapon when he came into the Pleiku Chieu Hoi Center.
This is an early leaflet produced by the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office. It mostly depicts the same weapons shown on other leaflets, but added a recoilless rifle listed from $15,000-20,000 (depending on size). Some of the text on the leaflet is:
TO THE MILITARY CADRES OF THE VIET CONG
When you return to the Government of Vietnam you will be whole-heartedly welcomed and rewarded if you bring your weapon with you. This is the reward according to the type of weapon.
Pistol $800, local rifle $1000, sub-machine gun $2000, foreign rifle $1200, Automatic weapon $3500, machine gun $5000 or $6300 or $6500, mortar $2000 or 10,000 and large gun $15000 or $20000.
The back asks:
WHAT SIDE OFFERS THE MOST ADVANTAGES?
The Viet Cong side has a deaths head and some of the text:
When you are sick you have no medicine, No allowance for your family and No job for your future.
The Government side offers in part:
You have an allowance of $500, your wife $200 and $100 for each child , You can live in a New Life Hamlet and receive a $3500 allowance and free food for six months, and If you want to enter any profession the Government will help you.
The rewards for leaflets were not just placed on leaflets and posters. They were also posted on billboards as can be seen by the board in Nui Dat that offers rewards for various enemy weapons.
JUSPAO Leaflet # 2500
JUSPAO leaflet 2500 offers cash as an incentive for the VC to return to his family. The leaflet depicts a black-pajama clad VC returning to his wife and child while an ARVN soldier smiles benignly and pats him on the back. The text is:
Soldiers and Cadre of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army in South Vietnam. The Government of the Republic welcomes returnees from your ranks under the Chieu Hoi program. Return and you will enjoy a life of peace and freedom.
The back has a long message, but the pertinent points for this article are:
The Government of Vietnam pledges to each returnee: $30 each day for food and $200 each month for spending money, rewards for weapons brought in from $500 to 75,000, two suits or $1,200 for clothing, and $1000 resettlement fund for you and any member of your family when they leave the Chieu Hoi Center. Returnees with families also receive; $30 each day for wife and older children and $15 for younger children, $100 each month for each family at Chieu Hoi Center, and returnees who chose to live in Chieu Hoi hamlets will receive $12,000 and cement and roofing to help build and furnish a house and six months rice.
JUSPAO prepared a set of four leaflets coded 2990-2993 which offered rewards for enemy personal and units.
2990 - Front
2990 - Back
Each leaflet bore the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) symbol on the front. The leaflets are mostly all text and not well illustrated, but the messages cover a wide variety of categories. Leaflet 2990 has text:
CHIEU HOI NATIONWIDE REWARDS CAMPAIGN. To invite all citizens of Vietnam to participate in a special program for the inducement on VC/NVA ralliers during the period of 1 November 1968 through 31 January 1969, and to give cash to all citizens who successfully persuade enemy military or civilian personnel to rally under the Chieu Hoi program. Awards will be paid to any Vietnamese citizen who induces a VC/NVA to rally, including members of the RVNAF, National Force, Cadre, Kit Carson armed propaganda teams (APTs), former Hoi Chanh or private citizens.
The back of the note has a large "$" over a number of categories of personnel with the price paid for each.
Leaflet 2990 was part of the Third-Party Inducement Program It called for someone else to be paid for convincing a Viet Cong to defect. J. A. Koch mentions this campaign in The Chieu Hoi Program in South Vietnam, 1963-1971:
A basic principle underlying Chieu Hoi was that a man's loyalty cannot really be bought. However, it is possible-- without dragging a defector program down to a monetary exchange for a man's loyalty--to pay a third party for rendering a service, i.e., inducing a potential rallier to defect and having the rallier attest to his sponsor's bona fides in getting him to do so.
Such a program was inaugurated in the summer of 1967 in Vinh Binh and Vinh Long Provinces. It proved quite successful. The November 1968, Accelerated Pacification Campaign extended the program to the whole country. An intensive effort was undertaken to pay rewards to any Vietnamese citizen or Hoi Chanh instrumental in getting a VC or NVA to rally. Eligibility for reward was determined by a special committee at province, and amounts -- based on the rank of the rallier varied from VN$250,000 for a commander of a Military Region to VN$3,000 for a member of the guerrilla force.
But it soon became apparent that under the "Third Party Inducement Program," too many ralliers turned out to have a "third party inducer," sometimes a Vietnam Government official, who in fact had done nothing to induce the rallier. Chieu Hoi cadres at the centers were also found to be in collusion with ralliers coming into the centers with whom they would offer to split the "third party" reward.
The PSYOP/POLWAR Newsletter of October 1968 points out that errors sometimes occur:
OOPS! A GOOF. Based on information on hand, JUSPAO printed 3 million sheets of weapons reward and returnee benefit stationery. One side lists the prices paid for weapons and the benefits given to the Hoi Chanhs. Where it reads that 1000$VN will be paid to the Hoi Chanh and each member of his family, it should read that 1000$VN will be paid to the Hoi Chanh. No additional money will be given to him for members of his family.
On the subject of armed propaganda teams, JUSPAO leaflet 3123 depicts an entire marching company of Vietnamese APTs, each with a loudspeaker under his right arm. To the right of the photograph is a Chieu Hoi symbol and the text:
Return to alleviate the suffering of the people.
The back is all text:
The Chieu Hoi Cadres of Long An Province. Deeply encouraged by the success of the Chieu Hoi program, the armed propaganda teams of long An welcomes the prime Minister and Vietnamese government officials to long An. The even was the opening ceremony of the Spring for the fatherland campaign. The aim of the Chieu hoi program is to urge those still on the other side to return to their families and alleviate the sorrows of separation.
Leaflet 2991 is similar to 2990 except that it offers special awards for high-ranking Communist officials and groups. On 31 October 1969 the Government of Vietnam announced a nationwide incentive program to accelerate the Chieu Hoi Campaign with cash awards provided as an inducement. This series of leaflets publicizes the program. The rewards were only valid during the period 1 November 1968 through 31 January 1969. The leaflet was developed in November 1968. The text is:
All persons (civilians, military, government employees, etc.) who induce Communist individuals or military groups to rally under the Chieu Hoi program will be paid cash awards. When an individual Communist rallies because of inducements, the responsible individual will be paid according to the rank or position of the returnee. In the case where a Communist military unit is induced to rally as a group, the individual inducing the group to rally will receive not only an award for each individual in such unit, but also an extra bonus which can be from 20% to 70% depending on the size of the group. The award in cash will be paid within three days to the individual responsible for inducing the rallier, either at province or district level. The rights of the individual who induces a Communist to rally or a group to rally will be respected and his name will not be disclosed.
The back of the note has a large "$" over a number of categories of personnel with the price paid for each. The prices are:
Village Company Commander $25,000, Deputy Village Company Commander $20,000, Guerrilla platoon Leader $15,000, Guerrilla Assistant Platoon Leader $10,000, Guerrilla Squad Leader $7,000, and Guerrilla Assistant Squad Leader $4,000.
Leaflet 2992 is another Special Award offer from the same series. It was developed in November 1968. Text on the front is:
In cases where a Communist military unit is induced to rally as a group, the individual inducing the group to rally will receive not only an award for each individual in the unit, but also an extra bonus. The rights of the individual who induces a Communist to rally or a group to rally will be respected and his name will not be disclosed.
The back of the leaflet shows two piles of banknotes and the text:
A unit will only be considered to have rallied as a group if the following conditions are met:
It must consist of a minimum of three ralliers (one cell).
They must all be from the same unit.
They must rally together at the same time.
If the unit is a squad or larger, at least two-thirds of its command cadre must accompany it as well as two-thirds of its combat members.
Rights are guaranteed; identification will not disclosed.
The final leaflet in the group is 2993. Like the others in this series it was developed in November 1968. Text on the front is:
All citizens of Vietnam (civilians, military, government employees, etc.) who induce Communist individuals or military groups to rally under the Chieu Hoi program will be paid cash awards. The cash awards will be paid within three days to the individual responsible for inducing the rallier, either at province or district level. The rights of the individual who induces a Communist to rally or a group to rally will be respected and his name will not be disclosed.
Participate in the Chieu Hoi award campaign
There is a long list of titles on the back with a dollar sign over the group. Some selected offers are:
At the Regional Level
Secretary $250,000 Deputy $200,000 General Affairs Commissar $170,000 Party member $130,000
At the Province Level
Secretary $120,000 Deputy $110,000 General Affairs Commissar $100,000 Party member $90,000
Secretary $80,000 Deputy $72,000 General Affairs Commissar $64,000 Party member $56,000
The 246th PSYOP Company prepared another reward leaflet did not mention a specific sum for information. It bears the symbol of the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagle" at the top left and right and the text:
101. REWARD. 101.
The U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam. The presence of the U.S. Armed forces in Vietnam is to help your government bring security and peace to your country. In order to succeed in this mission we very much need your help. In order to protect you and innocent civilians, we will provide a monetary reward to those who can give us the following: Landmines, information depots of the communist armed forces, tunnels, where they hide their weapons, traps, or where they plan their ambushes. Please contact American soldiers closest to the 101st Airborne Division and give them this flyer or the number 101. Those soldiers will read the back of this flyer in English and will assist you in informing the appropriate authorities. You will be amply rewarded for your useful information.
101st Reward leaflet
This leaflet was prepared in several different formats. My copy has English-language text on the back:
Attention American Personnel. American personnel who receive this leaflet or a message bearing the figures 101 from a Vietnamese national will courteously detain him (her) and notify their commander. This person wants to report information regarding the items on the other side of the leaflet. He has been offered payment if the information can be verified. If the Vietnamese refuses to stay or come with you, obtain his (her) name, address, date and place of birth. This data can be found on his (her) identity card. Copy all information on the card and give it to your commander.
The leaflet is coded 246-398-68.
Leaflet 246-296 depicts six weapons on the front. 50,000 of the large 5 x 8-inch leaflets were printed at the request of the
25th Infantry Division. Vietnamese text on the front is: U.S.
25th Infantry Division will offer rewards for all kinds of weapons as shown in the above picture. You can bring the weapons to the U.S. Army or show them where the weapons you have discovered are located. Take this leaflet and give it to any U.S. soldier whether you bring the weapons in or you tell where the weapons are hidden. U.S.
The back of the leaflet tells the Vietnamese that that:
This is a translation of the paragraph written above in English.
The English-language message to American soldiers is:
soldiers: You are responsible to see that the bearer of this reward notice is escorted to the nearest U.S. Army Officer. The receiving officer will see that the bearer of this reward notice receives his reward. U.S.
A PSYOP officer told me an interesting story about these reward leaflets. Note that in every case rifles and automatic weapons are worth far more than a pistol. This makes sense because they are far more dangerous, able to fire many times more bullets and at a greater range. The American officer told me that this was a terrible mistake. It enraged the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army officers who usually carried a pistol. They felt that offering a lowly uneducated peasant soldier more money for his weapon than a highly-trained and educated officer was a loss of face. There was some belief that this unbalance in rewards kept some officers who might have wished to defect from doing so. An interesting theory.
Leaflet 246-116-67 is entitled $500 Reward and offers $500 to any Vietnamese who reports finding an explosive device within one meter of the railroad tracks between
Bien Hoa Cityand Gia Ray in . 50,000 of the 4 x 5-inch leaflets were printed at the request of the Railway Advisory Group. Long Khanh Province
Leaflet 246-354-67 is a 4 x 5-inch all-text leaflet that targets civilians. 100,000 were printed with rewards for information about Viet Cong camps, caves, tunnels, weapons, ammunition, or mines at the request of the 5th ARVN Division. The text says in part:
Be brave and show us or give us information on above items to sub-sectors, sectors, or ARVN and Allied units. You will be warmly received and properly rewarded.
50,000 copies of the 5 x 8-inch leaflet 246-402-67 were printed about 21 May 1967 for distribution by air and hand. The leaflet depicts a 75mm Recoilless Rifle on the front and the insignia of the U.S. Armys 199th Light Infantry Brigade. A reward of $50,000 Vietnamese piasters is offered for the weapon, $10,000 for the sight, and $5,000 for the ammunition. Some of the text on the back is:
If you know the location of this weapon or ammunition, show this leaflet to an American soldier wearing the insignia on the opposite side of this leaflet on his left shoulder. It is not necessary to bring the weapon to the soldiers, the full price of $50,000 piasters will be paid if you can lead the U.S. soldiers to the location of the weapon....
This leaflet depicts seven weapons on the front and the text:
Viet Cong booby traps from 500 to 3000 dong. Viet Cong mines from 1000 to 10,000 dong.
[The seven weapons and the price paid for each below each weapon]The back is all in English and written to the American soldier who is approached by the Vietnamese citizen with information. The text is:
The US 101st Armored Cavalry Regiment will pay cash awards for all weapons herein depicted and their munitions. You can bring such weapons to any American soldier, or reveal caches of weapons, mines and traps to them. Remember to bring along this leaflet when coming in with information or weapons. US soldiers will read it in English and will assist you in bringing your information to the competent authorities for reward.
Attention American Personnel
American personnel who receive this leaflet from a Vietnamese national will courteously detain him (her) and notify their commander. This person wants to report information regarding the items on the other side of the leaflet. He has been offered payment if the information can be verified.
If the Vietnamese refuses to stay or come with you, obtain his (her) name, address, date and place of birth. This data can be found on his (her) identify card. Copy all information on the card and give it to your commander.
The 969 Series
There are a number of American reward leaflets that bear the numbers 969. They seem to symbolize the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community. The first 9 stands for the nine special attributes of the Lord Buddha. The 6 is for the six special attributes of his Dharma, or Buddhist Teachings. The last 9 represents the nine special attributes of Buddhist Sangha (monastic community). Those special attributes are the Three Jewels of the Buddha. Another veteran told me that a Vietnamese told him that the number 9 is a universally a lucky number, but in Feng Shui, 969 is the best of the lucky numbers: wealth, longevity, stability, etc. are concentrated in this number.
It seems clear that someone did their homework and placed a lucky number on this leaflet hoping it would motivate a passing Vietnamese to pick it up. There are about a half dozen leaflets that use this number to catch the attention of the Vietnamese and offer a reward. All of the leaflets I have seen start with the 246 code and then follow with 118, 126, 157, 168, or 176. I suspect there are many more I have not seen.
Probably the most impressive of the four I have mentioned is 246-176-67 because it has some color while the rest are all black and white. This leaflet bears the insignia of the 9th Infantry Division. The text says in part:
Attention American Personnel
American personnel who receive this leaflet or a message bearing the figures 969 from a Vietnamese national will courteously detain him (her) and notify their commander. This person wants to report information regarding items on the other side of this leaflet. He has been offered payment if the information can be verified.
If the Vietnamese refuses to stay or come with you, obtain his (her) name, address, date and place of birth. This data can be found on his (her) identity card. Copy all the information on the card and give it to your commander.
Leaflet 246-118-67 depicts the insignia of the U.S. 196th Light Infantry Brigade and the 969 and was printed in 100,000 copies. The code-name for the leaflet is Good Guys. The leaflet offers rewards for information on mines, weapons, tunnels, traps and ambushes.
Leaflet 246-126-67 depicts the insignia of the U.S. 11th Armored Cavalry and the 969 and was printed in 100,000 copies. The code-name for the leaflet is Good Guys. The leaflet offers rewards for information on mines, weapons, tunnels, traps and ambushes.
Leaflet 246-157-67 depicts the insignia of the 2nd Battalion of the 34th Armored Division and the 969 and was printed in 50,000 copies. The code-name for the leaflet is 969 Good Guys. The leaflet offers rewards for information on mines, weapons, tunnels, traps and ambushes.
Leaflet 246-168-67 depicts the insignia of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade. 100,000 copies of the leaflet were printed bearing two images of the unit patch and the number 969. The code-name for the leaflet is 969 Good Guys. The leaflet offers rewards for information on mines, weapons, tunnels, traps and ambushes.
The 246th PSYOP Company served III Corps from Bien Hoa, about 20 miles northeast of Saigon in III Corps. We will mention this unit in greater depth below.
6th PSYOP Battalion
Viet Cong Terrorist Reward # 6-083-68
The 6th PSYOP Bn was also busy preparing reward leaflets. One of the more interesting is an offer for a Viet Cong terrorist leader. The leaflet has a drawing of Tam Nui on the front and the text:
Up to $50,000 VN Reward. Nguyen Van Lac, alias Tam Nui. 53 years old, 1 meter 68 tall, armed with a pistol. He is usually accompanied by a bodyguard of 30 men and is often in or near Ap 6 Chanh (2) Michelin Plantation.
Text on the back is:
Allied Forces in Dau Tieng will pay up to $50,000VN for information which leads to the apprehension of Nguyen Van Lac, alias Tam Nui, assistant VC district chief, Tri Tam District. Tam Nui has shown himself to be an enemy of the Vietnamese people by his unlawful terrorist activities in Dan Tieng and the Michelin Plantation.
The person providing information that leads to the apprehension of Tam Nui will receive reward money that can provide the opportunity to start a new business and a new life. If he so desires, the recipient may also be provided transportation for himself, his family and his household goods to resettle anywhere with Binh Duong, Tay Ninh, Hau Nghia or Gia Dinh provinces or in Saigon.
(In English and Vietnamese) The individual bearing this leaflet has information on VC cadre men. Take him immediately to the Brigade S-2.
The leaflet is coded 6-083-68. It was dropped in VC areas, all Corps.
I should point out that rewards were not offered for all Viet Cong members. Often, wanted posters were prepared for them but without the offer of a reward. The people were simply asked to do the right thing. I also notice that not all the posters showed a poor drawing of a wanted person. I selected this one because it almost looks like one of those Hollywood photographs where an actor strikes a handsome pose. The poster is 8 x 10-inches, in black and white. It was requested by Cords and the National Police. The text is:
The Danang National Police are searching for:
This poster depicts Ngo Tan Khang, 22 years old, birthplace Hoa Tho Village, Hoa Vang District, Quang Nam Province. He was a student; joined Viet Cong in 1964. He is a District Committee Cadre of the Viet Cong and concurrently Secretary of the 2nd VC District in Danang.
The 6th also prepared leaflet 6-168-68 in conjunction with the 9th Military Intelligence Detachment. It specifically targets sappers, mines and Highway 4. It tells the U.S. soldier receiving the information,
Attention unit S-2. Rewards are to be paid after information is verified as follows: $10,000VN for each sapper team member captured or killed as a result of information received; $5,000VN for each mine located in Highway 4 as a result of information received. Prices established by 9th MI Detachment.
This is an interesting reward leaflet that requests information. The front is a four panel comic. In the first panel a young boy is looking intently at something. In the second, he finds what appears to be a South Vietnamese soldier and tells him what he saw. In the third panel the ARVN digs up a mine by hand. In the final panel the boy is told that he will be rewarded. The actual text is:
If you see a Viet Cong mine or something you suspect may be a mine
Immediately report it to any Army of the Republic of Vietnam or allied soldier
An explosive ordnance specialist will come out to disarm it or to destroy it on the spot.
The road will be made safe and you will be rewarded for your report.
Province Chief Lieutenant Colonel Tu giving reward money to two ex-Viet Cong members for weapons rewards. The Australian is Sergeant Russ Tetlow and the US Officer is Lieutenant Andrus.
Leaflet 2815 depicts two Vietnamese Hoi Chanh that showed government troops were the VC had hid their weapons. They received a substantial award. The text on the front is:
HOI CHANH SHOW THEIR PATRIOTISM
The text on the back said in part:
AN ACT THAT COULD HELP WIN THE WAR
On 10 August 1968, returnees Nguyen Van Ben and Nguyen Van Tuong Helped government troops discover a weapons cache belonging to the Viet Cong. The cache was a big ammunition depot located in Bac Lieu The two returnees were given a reward of 1,020,000 piasters by the Minister of Chieu Hoi.
Note; Using the 1968 official exchange rate of 118 VND = $1.00 USD the two men would have been paid about $17,000 USD. Now at todays exchange rate they would get about $90.00 USD.
The Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) did an entire series of Vietnamese returnees being paid huge rewards, For instance:
Leaflet 3224 depicts Chieu Hoi Minister Nguyen Ngoc An awarding Hoi Chanh Vu Van Tin $2,000,000 VN for helping the 24th Special Sector confiscate a massive number of weapons, ammunition and equipment from the Viet Cong.
Leaflet 3691 depicts the Prime Minister and the Chieu Hoi Minister awarding $503,700 VN to Hoi Chanh Miss Nguyen Thi Be and $300,000 VN to Hoi Chanh Thach Nuoi.
Because these Vietnamese men received such a large reward for their information, they also appeared on JUSPAO posters. This 17 x 22-inch October 1968 poster depicts three photographs and text that says in part:
CAPTURED VC WEAPONS WORTH ONE MILLION PIASTERS REWARD TO HOI CHANH
Two former Viet Cong recently reported the location of a Communist weapons factory to the Government of Vietnam and were rewarded 1,000,000 piasters by the officials of Bac Lieu Province on 19 August 1968. The factory was about 200 kilometers southwest of Saigon. It contained more than 200 weapons, including a 70 mm cannon, a 105 mm mortar, and five anti-aircraft machine guns, I addition to more than 10 tons of ammunition and explosives which were destroyed by the local Government defense forces.
Nguyen Van Ben, former VC Director of the weapons factory, and Nguyen Van Truong, former VC artillery commander, received the reward after disclosing the hidden Communist installation to the Government. Both men became disillusioned with the VC because it failed to achieve promised victories and did not provide them with food and clothing.
Leaflet 3778 depicts Chieu Hoi Minister Ho Van Cham awarding $1,348,000 VN to Hoi Chanh Nguyen Van Xang on 11 April 1970 for guiding ARVN forces on three occasions to seize Communist weapons. It appears the recipient can hardly hold so much money.
On 10 February 1966, three companies were formed within the 6th PSYOP Bn to provide tactical propaganda support. 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. The 245th PSYOP Company served II Corps from Pleiku (in II Corps). The 246th PSYOP Company served III Corps from Bien Hoa, about 20 miles northeast of Saigon in III Corps. 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. 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 Rail yards (later, headquarters 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. All four companies disappear from the order of battle as of 1 January 1968. The 4th PSYOP Group departed Vietnam on 2 October 1971.
7th PSYOP Battalion
7-377-68 Money for Guns Reward Leaflet
Viet Cong woman accepts reward
I add this leaflet of a young Viet Cong female being paid a fabulous reward for weapons here because it is similar to the one above and featured in the JUSPAO November 1968 publication Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets:
The Government fulfilled its promise to pay a reward for weapons.
Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets
Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets was a 1968 publication on the creation and distribution of propaganda in Vietnam. It was produced by the Field Development Division and the Office of Policy, Plans, and Research of the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO). The 62 page illustrated booklet was written by Monta Osborne with illustrations added by Phil Katz. Monta L. Osborne was the Chief of Field Development Division in Saigon in charge of the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) program during the Vietnam War. The booklet was issued to Military Assistance Command - Vietnam (MACV) to be issued to field PSYOP personnel. Also offered to Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) and additional copies printed for all new PSYOP officers and civilians assigned to Vietnam.
The 7th PSYOP Bn regularly dropped reward leaflets. The 1968-1969 Leaflet Catalog of the 7th PSYOP Bn (Danang) shows 33 different leaflets in the "Reward leaflet" category. An additional 29 are listed under "Monetary appeal."
Leaflet 7-157-68 is all text:
Up to $100,000VN for information leading to the capture or destruction of artillery, mortar, rocket positions, troop concentrations, communication sites, occupied vehicle parks and logistic storage areas. Help save the lives of innocent people that might be killed by the bloodthirsty VC's weapons. Remember that a sizeable reward will be paid to you if your information leads to the capture or recovery of any weapons and ammunition. Warning!!! Do not pick up ammunition.
The other side has a similar message and a list of 24 items with price paid for each. Some of the items are:
Location of rocket launch site prior to firing $50,000-100,000, Artillery piece or mortar over 100mm $50,000-100,000, 75mm/82mm recoilless rifle $20,000-25,000, and just $10 for each small arms round.
Leaflet 7-249-68 depicts a happy black-pajama clad VC handing his rifle to an Army of Vietnam (ARVN) soldier. In his left hand, the happy former terrorist holds a big wad of banknotes. The text reads:
All Patriots who support the "Operation Search for the Enemy's Weapons" will be rewarded.
In the I Corps Tactical Zone, the 7th PSYOP Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group was formed in Nha Trang from the 6th Bn's 244th PSYOP Company. In 1968, the 7th PSYOP Bn moved its flag (but not the unit or people) to Danang. It departed Vietnam on 21 December 1971.
The 7th PSYOP Battalion seems to have printed many of these Cash for weapons leaflets. There are about a dozen in 1969 alone. Most of them actually show cash being handed to the informers. On the front of this leaflet a local farmer leads government forces to armaments hidden in a cave and a handful of cash appears. The text is:
This place contains murderous communist weapons
On the back we see the smiling farmers hut and his wife and child. The text is:
It can give you and your family a happy and prosperous life if you report the location of Communist weapons caches to the local authorities or to Allied troops. Your name will be kept secret.
Leaflet 7-284-69 depicts a VC looking at a rocket emplacement. The text reads:
You can not only help to stop the Communist invasion, you can also get rewarded by the government. Any rocket attacks by the communists will be appropriately responded in kind by the Government of Vietnam.
The back of the leaflet states:
The Communists could bring disaster to your village. Please save your village by quickly contacting your local government or the military and showing them where you see rockets or mortars.
The above poster also depicts a Vietnamese seeing some Viet Cong rockets ready to be fired and thinks of the death and destruction they will cause. He then thinks that if he tells the government troops about the rockets, he will receive a reward. It bears the code P7-316-69.
Do report to the authorities or the Armed Forces all enemy weapons which can harm our families. You will be rewarded!
American PSYOP specialists often printed leaflets in the form of stationery assuming that the enemy in the bush would have nothing to write home on. This was done most often during the Korean War. Of course, the stationery bore Allied propaganda, so if the soldier read it, he saw the propaganda and when the letter got home, his family saw it. In this case, an American soldier found or took this leaflet as a souvenir and used the blank back to write a letter home to his family. Notes on leaflets are not common, but a complete letter is. I have edited the letter for brevity:
August 24, 1969
This stationery may be a little odd but thought it might interest you. It is what was handed out by our PSYOP Team. It bears some type of pro-American or pro- Saigon propaganda. The Chieu Hoi leaflet is quite self-explanatory. I am already feeling “short” and I’ve still got three months to go. There are better days ahead because we are moving from our landing zone on September 5-7 and back to a Chieu Hoi Base Camp. We will probably be there for the whole Monsoon season so I will return home from that location. I hate to put up with all the “lifer” rules and regulations, but that base is almost as safe as Fort Sill…
Leaflet 7-617-68 Depicts a happy Viet Cong handing over his AK-47 assault rifle to an American who hands him a wad of banknotes in return. In the background, a member of the Republic of Vietnam Army smiles in gratitude and appreciation. The text on the front of the leaflet is:
A Patriot is receiving a worthy reward for a weapon delivered.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Joe Meissner tells an interesting story about distributing 7th PSYOP Battalion reward leaflets. He relates that four vehicles from the B team MIKE Force of the 5th Special Forces left their compound outside Pleiku, headed for a Montagnard village in the nearby hills. Two sergeants in a lead jeep unpacked a box, and as the convoy drove through a cluster of huts they tossed handfuls of leaflets into the air. The wind took the leaflets and scattered them along the road, over the fields and near the shacks. Children ran to pick the leaflets up and bring them home for their parents to read. The leaflet in question was 7-287-68. It depicted eight weapons and offered different rewards for each one.
Leaflet 7-281-69 depicts two Viet Cong guerrillas handling a large rocket while a hidden Vietnamese civilian peers at them from the bushes. On the back, the same villager is shown being handed a reward by a soldier of the South Vietnamese Army, so it is obvious that the villager has informed on the two Viet Cong insurgents. The text on the front is:
We want you to know that the Rocket the Viet Cong make you carry and hide is very dangerous. There is great danger that the Rocket will kill and wound innocent people. If you know someone who has the rocket, you need to immediately tell the nearest Government or Army personal so that they can stop these blood thirsty rockets.
Text on the back is:
You are not only doing a great job for the people, you will also receive a great reward.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand exactly how big these deadly rockets were
Here a 1st Infantry Division soldier holds a captured rocket
This leaflet entitled Report Viet Cong Rocket Locations was usually dropped in one of two reward leaflet mixes numbered either two or three.
Rocket Reward Mix Two consisted of; 7-281-69 Report VC Rocket Locations, 7-282-69 Report Rocket Launching Sites, 7-283-69 Report VC Activity and Weapons and 7-284-69 Rewards for Rockets.
Viet Cong 122 mm Rockets
I thought the readers might want to see what a Viet Cong rocket emplacement looks like. These 122 mm rockets were part of an original group of 22 found by Company G, 2nd Battalion, of the 1st Marines in May 1970. These rockets were aimed at Da Nang Air Base.
7-282-69 depicted VC wiring two rockets to be fired at the allies. Some of the text is:
If you have knowledge of rocket launching sites near your hamlet, report the information immediately. In doing so, you will prevent needless destruction and your patriotism will be generously rewarded.
This 7th PSYOP Battalion handout warned the Vietnamese not to pick up unexploded M-79 grenade rounds. The text on the front is:
An M-79 round (approximately 7.5 centimeters long) is shown near a cigarette pack
The text on the back is:
Attention People! Danger!
When you see an unexploded M-79 rounds, do not pick them up. They may explode at any time and cause a fatality. You should lead Vietnamese and Allied soldiers to recover them. You will be rewarded if you lead them to the location of the M-79 rounds. Those who take those rounds to the soldiers will not be rewarded.
In 1971, the 7th PSYOP Battalion printed another series of leaflets depicting enemy rockets and ammunition. In the above leaflet a Vietnamese civilian points out hidden weapons and explosives to an ARVN soldier. The text is:
When you discover enemy weapons, immediately report them to our soldiers.
You will receive a reward.
The back adds:
The informant will be generously rewarded, and his name will be kept secret.
Leaflet 7-505-71 depicts rockets set up on launchers. This leaflet asks the people to report the sighting and location of the weapons but does not mention a reward.
Rewards Prosperity Mix Three consisted of; 7-211-69 Rewards Can Mean Wealth, 7-218-69 Rewards Can Mean Wealth, 7-219-69 Rewards Prosperity, 7-2220-69 Rewards Prosperity, 7-221-69 Protecting Your Family and 7-281-69 Report VC Rocket Locations,
They were part of theme III, the voluntary Information program, which consisted of four main parts; an appeal to patriotism, a monetary appeal a self-defense appeal and instructions. The mixes were aimed at local people code LP.
8th PSYOP Battalion
8 (2) 950-68
The 8th PSYOP Bn was also active. Leaflet 8(2)950-68 is another all-text flyer for use with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. with no illustration of any kind. The back bears an English-language message:
Attention American Personnel. American personnel who receive this leaflet or a message from a Vietnamese national will courteously detain him (her) and notify their commander. This person wants to report information regarding the items on the other side of the leaflet. He has been offered payment if the information can be verified. If the Vietnamese refuses to stay or come with you, obtain his (her) name, address, date and place of birth. This data can be found on his (her) identity card. Copy all information on the card and give it to your commander.
Some of the Vietnamese language on the front of the leaflet is:
The U.S. Army is in Vietnam in order to help the Government of the South Vietnamese to bring peace and security to your country. In order to complete this mission we need your support. We will reward people who give us any of the following information: Any threats of missile, mortar or artillery that you have knowledge of, the movement of troops and weapons, preparations for attacks...."
It ends with a request for the bearer to:
Contact the nearest soldier of the US 4th Infantry Division and give him this leaflet or a 414. He will read the back of this leaflet, which is printed in English, and help you report the information to an official agency. You will then be rewarded with money equal to the information.
The 8th PSYOP Battalion printed this reward poster in 1969. I like it a lot because it is very clear and even those that could not read well would certainly see the stacks of banknotes near each image and understand that they could get a lot of cash by turning in their weapons. I usually add a translation, but this poster is in a native montagnard language (most likely Rhade), and my Vietnamese translators cannot read it. We see mortars, rockets, automatic weapons and even a pistol. 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. Rich had asked the Army to assign him to photography school but was told there were no openings; he could be schooled as a camera mechanic. He went to basic training at Ft. Ord, California, and advanced training at Ft. Monmouth N.J. When he got to Vietnam, he asked permission to visit the photography unit and showed them his portfolio which he carried all the way to Vietnam. They liked his work and offered him the job on the spot. Company A operated with C Flight, 9th Air Commandos Squadron, to provide PSYOP support to coastal provinces.
When I spoke to Richard about his photographs, he sent me this photograph he took of a C-47 "Spooky" gunship in action bringing death and destruction to the Viet Cong.
In II Corps, the 8th PSYOP Battalion of the 4th PSYOP Group was formed in Nha Trang from the 6th PSYOP Bn's 245th PSYOP Company. In Pleiku, Company B of the new 8th PSYOP Bn was formed from a small detachment of the 245th Company. Later, in 1968, all of the 8th PSYOP Bn moved to Pleiku, where it served in close association with the 4th Infantry Division. It operated there until it departed Vietnam on 26 June 1971.
During the Vietnam War, American soldiers and airmen were often in danger in the nations bordering Vietnam as their missions called for them to overtly or covertly cross the borders into the "neutral" countries to attack or pursue the NVA units hiding in the jungle, or the supply columns coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
One series of leaflets depict the same 3 cartoons on the front and back. In each, a native sees an American in a cage, tells the local military, and at the end receives a reward from a Caucasian in a suit and tie. The text is identical on the front and back of all of the leaflets:
The United States Government will pay you $500 for information leading to the safe rescue of a U.S. serviceman.
JUSPAO leaflet #4369CV has the text in Vietnamese on one side and Cambodian on the other. Leaflet 4369LC is identical except that the languages are Lao and Cambodian. Leaflet 4369LV is in Lao and Vietnamese. Leaflet 4369V has the cartoon and text in Vietnamese on the front and the back has a picture of a $500 bill.
A second series has the same theme, but with slightly changed pictures and text. Leaflet 4370LV has four cartoon boxes. A local farmer sees an American serviceman walking in the woods. He guides the American back across the border to Vietnam. The American shakes hands with a Republic of Vietnam soldier. In the last box, the farmer receives a reward from an American in a suit. The text is almost identical to 4369 except that the reward is multiplied 10 times:
The United States Government will pay you $5000 for information leading to the safe rescue of a U.S. serviceman.
The text is in Cambodian and Vietnamese. Once again, the LC version has Lao and Cambodian text, the LV version has Lao and Vietnamese, and the final V version in Vietnamese and depicts a picture of a $5000 bill.
One of the most interesting leaflets discusses prisoner exchange. Leaflet 4443 is all text:
THE VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT HOPES FOR A CONTINUAL EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS OF WAR
On 8 October 1971, the Communists released one
POW, Sergeant John C. Sexton, in Loc Ninh. U.S.
On 11 October 1971, the Government of
released a North Vietnamese lieutenant in the same area that the Viet Cong freed the American POW. Vietnam
This is not a reciprocal action but it reflected the Government of
s hope to have more POWs released so that they may return to their families after years and years of separation. Vietnam
It is interesting to note that the leaflet says this is not a reciprocal action when it clearly is. The
United Statescould not be seen to be trading Communists for POWs, but it was certainly pushing the Government of to do so. At the same time, one wonders what the Viet Cong could gain by such an action. The long-term holding of Vietnam troops was part of their plan to wear down the American support for the war. U.S.
This leaflet was prepared to be dropped over
South Vietnam, Laosand . However, it was rejected by the JUSPAO Evaluation Team. Initially, changes in the language were proposed. Later a 21 October 1971 comment stapled to the evaluation form says: Cambodia
We cannot use this one on POWs. Im sorry.
One wonders why Sexton was released. The following information has been released about him:
Army Staff Sergeant John Sexton, was suddenly and without warning released from a VC prison camp near the Cambodian border. At first Sexton was accompanied by NVA soldiers but he was then abandoned near the small town of
Snoulin to make his own way back. Sexton, who was dressed in black pajamas and carried a message from the communists asking for reciprocity for his release, said that once he reached American lines no one on his own side was interested, other than to impress upon him that be was to keep his mouth shut. Allegedly, for years after his return, he could not speak at meetings held by the families of other prisoners without an ever-present government representative to insure his silence. Cambodia
When one digs further into the story we find spies and spooks and political bickering. Apparently, the Communists wanted two of their high-ranking people back, a labor agitator named Le Van Hoai and a top terrorist leader named Nguyen Van Tai who had run intelligence and terrorist operations in Saigon for more than five years that had killed or wounded hundreds of South Vietnamese and Americans. The CIA argued against releasing them for a mere sergeant. The Communists then offered Douglas K. Ramsey, a Foreign Service Officer they had seized north of
Saigonin 1966. The CIA wanted the return of one their officers who had been captured during the 1968 Tet Offensive. After a lot of haggling it became clear that the sides could not agree and the offers to trade were withdrawn.
Australian Leaflet ATF-082-71
The Australian 1st Psychological Operations produced leaflets and posters in
during 1970-1971. They produced one reward leaflet with the code ATF-082-70 on 15 February 1970. The Australians printed about 100,000 leaflets and disseminated them by air on NVA and VC troops to encourage them to rally to the Vietnam . The front depicts the Chieu Hoi symbol, a large $ and the text: Republicof Viet Nam
Weapons reward for Hoi Chanh
The back is all text:
Friends, when you Hoi Chanh you will receive rewards for your weapons.
Pistols (all types)
Rifles (SKS, AK47, M16)
Machine Gun (Light)
Machine Gun (Heavy) 7.62mm or .30 cal
60mm Mortar Barrel
81 - 82mm Mortar Barrel
81 - 82mm Mortar (Complete) Anti-tank mine (each)
Individual mine (each)
Claymore mine (each)
The rewards for Chieu Hoi are generous and will help you start your new life.
Marine Leaflet 94-66
I do not believe that the Marines ever printed any propaganda leaflets of their own, but in this case, they could have, or they requested that a leaflet be prepared for their use by the Army. This leaflet was found near Da Nang by Marine Corps PFC Howard Beck while a member of A Company, 1st Anti-Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division. The leaflet depicts a father carrying his injured child while in the background we can see two children hurt in an explosion. The leaflet depicts various other dangerous items like bear-traps, mines and grenades. The text in Vietnamese is:
The Viet Cong always place mines and traps around villages and play grounds - but then claim that they only place those mines in the battlefields. It is their common practice to kill innocent citizens, and that is the reason curious children who do not recognize mines are killed.
Below the Vietnamese text, there is an English language message:
The bearer of this leaflet is trying to tell you where a mine or booby trap is located. If he does so, the USMC will reward him.
The back of the leaflet is all Vietnamese text:
The Marine Corps will reward a considerable amount of money to whoever leads us to Viet Cong traps or takes us to the place where the traps are hidden.
This leaflet was probably prepared by the
of the I Corps Tactical Zone. Their Leaflet Catalog shows a similar item in what they call the 66 series coded 104-66. Some of its text is: Joint PSYWAR Civic Affairs Center
The cowardly Viet Cong hide booby traps not caring who is hurt by them. Innocent civilians are most of the victims. Tell the Marines where they are hidden. You will receive a generous reward, and the Marines will remove this danger so that your children will be safe.
M50A1 Tank Killer "Ontos"
The M50A1 tank-killer "Ontos" (Greek for "The Thing"), officially known as the Rifle, Multiple 106 mm, Self-propelled, M5 was a light weight tracked armored fighting vehicle designed to destroy enemy battle tanks using the firepower from its six 106mm recoilless rifles. The Marines had 176 Ontos vehicles at the start of the Vietnam War. Howard Beck sends a photo of his units tank killers taken in Chu Lai, in spring 1966.
During the Vietnam War US ground and air forces were covertly and overtly active in nearby Laos.
The United States prepared a number of propaganda leaflets to the Pathet Lao and Lao civilians depicting Royal Laotian currency and offering rewards for the return of American and Laotian pilots. The leaflets were mostly black and white but often had a touch of red where the symbol of Laos was depicted and rewards were mentioned. The notes were prepared in two sizes, standard 3 x 6-inch leaflets and 6.29 x 11-inch handouts.
Leaflet .110 (front)
Standard leaflet .110 (the larger size is coded .111) depicts a stack of 1000 kip banknotes with Laotian three-headed Erawan elephant national symbols from Hindu mythology at the left and the right. The national symbolism comes from the 14th century kingdom whose name translates to "Land of the Million Elephants and the White Parasol." The text is:
With wealth you can make wonderful things.
For information on Royal Laotian or U.S. prisoners of war or for assisting Royal Laotian Air Force or U.S. pilots back to the government.
Leaflet .110 (back)
Souvanna Phouma is depicted on the back. The text is:
Souvanna Phouma, Prime Minister, Royal Lao Government.
The Royal Lao Government promises to pay you:
100,000 kip for information on the location of Royal Lao Government or U.S. prisoners held by the Pathet Lao or North Vietnamese Army.
1,500,000 kip for assistance to Royal Lao or U.S. pilots returning to the government.
You need not keep this paper to collect the reward.
Leaflet .112 (front)
Standard leaflet .112 (larger size is coded .113) depicts a stack of 1000 kip banknotes with Laotian three-headed Erawan elephant symbols from Hindu mythology at the left and the right. The text is:
A cash reward will be given to those who provide information concerning U.S. and Laotian prisoners, or who assist Royal Laotian and U.S. pilots in returning to the government.
Leaflet .112 (back)
Souvanna Phouma is depicted on the back. The text is:
Souvanna Phouma, Prime Minister, Royal Lao Government.
The Royal Lao Government will give a reward of:
100,000 kip to those who provide information concerning U.S. or Laotian prisoners of the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese Army.
1,500,000 kip to those who help Royal Laotian and U.S. pilots who are downed or being detained by the Communists to return to the government.
You need not keep this paper to collect the reward.
U.S. reward leaflet .114 for Laos
U.S. reward leaflet .114 for Laos is made up of two identical cartoons that appear on both the front and back. The only difference is that the text on one side is written in Vietnamese, the other side in Laotian.
The first illustration (at left) depicts a downed Allied pilot meeting villagers. The second illustration (at right) depicts the pilot and a friendly villager meeting a government officer who rewards the villager with a cash payment.
The text at top is:
1,500,000 Kip Cash Reward.
1,500,000 kip: A cash reward to those who help Royal Laotian and U.S. pilots who are downed or being detained by the Communists to return to the government.
100,000 Kip: A cash reward to those who provide information concerning U.S. or Laotian prisoners captured by the Pathet Lao and the North Vietnamese Army.
POW Publicity Fund Reward Leaflet - Front
POW Publicity Fund Reward Leaflet - Back
Are there still reward leaflets circulated in Vietnam today? The answer is "yes."
In 1987 the POW Publicity Fund offered a $2.5 million dollar reward and expected the Department of Defense to honor an additional $100,000 reward offered in the pilots blood chits. The offer was offered by 21 Republican Congressmen, former POW Navy Capt.
Eugene"Red" McDaniel, former North Carolina Congressman Billy Hendon and the owners of the Charlotte Motor . Each of the 24 pledged $100,000 (making the 2.4 million). Speedway
The POW Publicity Fund $2.5 million dollar reward is pledged by current and former members of Congress, private citizens and corporations. The reward will be paid to any citizen or group of citizens of Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia who liberates an American prisoner of war detained against his will in Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia and delivers the prisoner to U.S. custody.
The reward will be paid only if the American prisoner is delivered to an official U.S. Government facility. Qualifying facilities include, but are not limited to, the U.S. embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam; the U.S. MIA office in Hanoi, Vietnam; the U.S. embassy in Vientiane, Laos; the U.S. MIA office in Vientiane, Laos; the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the U.S. MIA office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, Thailand; the U.S. MIA office in Bangkok, Thailand; embassies or other official U. S. Government facilities in China, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan or Hong Kong and any U.S. Navy vessel on the high seas.
The reward will be paid only if the American prisoner is on the official U. S. Government list of "U. S. Personnel Unaccounted for in Southeast Asia."
The reward will be paid only after extensive interviews have been conducted with both the rescuing party and the alleged prisoner to determine if, in fact, the said prisoner is a bona fide prisoner of war. The interviews will be conducted by authorized representatives of the POW Publicity Fund who are experts in the field of American prisoners and missing in Southeast Asia.
The $2.5 million dollar reward will be paid by the POW Publicity Fund only once, and only to the first person who qualifies.
Should the person qualifying for the reward liberate and deliver more than one prisoner to the U.S. Government, only $2.5 million dollars will be paid. In other words, payment will be for the rescue event rather than on a per-prisoner basis.
The POW Publicity Fund official reward document explains the $2.5 million dollar reward in the Vietnamese and Laotian languages and in pictures.
The reward offer is in the form of a pointee-talkee leaflet. There are four drawings on one side. The first shows an American held prisoner by an armed Laotian, identified by the flag of the Lao People's Democratic Republic above him. In the second picture the American escapes, led away from a sleeping guard by a friendly native. In the third picture the friendly Laotian rows him to Thailand, identified by the flag of the Kingdom of Thailand on the far shore. In the final picture, the Americans reward the friendly Laotian with bright shiny gold. Text in Laotian is, "Bring an American pilot to safety and you will receive a huge prize in return."
The activists colored in the gold color on the leaflet while on their way to
. Donna Long told me: Thailand
You should have seen us at the airports and on the plane coloring the "gold" block and folding the leaflets and putting them in zip lock bags! We took a cheap group flight on Korean Air Lines via
. I think in all it was over 30 hours with the long airport waits. I don't remember how long we had to wait in Alaska , but I remember sitting on the floor doing the leaflets and people staring at me. Same on the plane. We must have looked like a bunch of crazy people with our yellow markers, leaflets and boxes of zip-lock bags! Alaska
The other side of the leaflet is Vietnamese-language text, with a photograph at the lower right of members of the POW Reward Fund - Asia standing behind and holding a pile of banknotes. The members are Republican Congressmen Duncan Hunter, Robert Dorman, David Dreier, John Rowland and Robert Smith
Reward Label on Russian Banknote
The same organization also prepared reward labels, which were stuck on Russian banknotes and disseminated in Vietnam and Laos. One such 5-ruble banknote of 1961 bears a label with English-language text "$2,400,000 REWARD for American Prisoner of War delivered to International Red Cross." The same message appears directly below in Vietnamese. The use of banknotes as a medium for propaganda is explored in another article: Propaganda Banknote Leaflets of the Vietnam War.
Former Congressman Billy Hendon and
friends prepare to release leaflet balloons
In September 1987 the leaflets were floated in 1000 ziplock plastic bags released on the Mekong River. That plan was a failure. There were ten individuals present, seven POW/MIA family members, Hendon, a reporter and MIA activist Donna Long. She told me:
Donna Long pushes reward leaflets toward Laos
We were told if we tried to release them they would be shot down and placed under house arrest. The next day, out of frustration, we began wading into the Mekong and trying to push the sealed reward leaflets into the current towards
. It was spontaneous but it made international news, I guess because it really was a desperate pitiful attempt and the Thai went out in boats and were picking them up. Laos
Plans to launch 2,500 11-inch helium balloons were prohibited by the Thai government.
Lynn Hampton with reward messages on the Mekong River, October 1988
In July 1988, Lynn Hampton, a Vietnam War army nurse traveled to
with a small missionary group. Hampton had just graduated from the University of Vietnam FloridaSchool of Nursing when she joined the Army Medical Corps and arrived in in March 1967. She was first assigned as a surgical intensive care and medical intensive care nurse at the 91st Vietnam in Tuy Hoa. After six months, she was transferred to the 93rd Evacuation Hospital Evacuation Hospitalin Long Binh near Saigon. She later wrote a book about her wartime experiences: The Fighting Strength: Memoirs of a Combat Nurse in Vietnam, Daring Books, OH, 1990.
Hampton bought 3,000
VietnamDong on the black market and handwrote the reward message on each of them along with Capt. McDaniels telephone number in . She covertly disseminated them around Washington DC . That operation was dubbed Dong the Cong I. Hanoi
Hand Stamped Reward Message
Dong the Cong II started on 3 October 1988. Vietnam Veteran Jim Copp and Donna Long went to Khong Chiam, Thailand as advance party for the Homecoming II Group. They had at least 1,000 dollars in currency with a reward message stamped on them. The stamp was identical to the label stuck on the banknote above. Donna believes that most of the banknotes were Thai 5 and 10 Baht, about one-third were American one dollar bills and there were a few Russian rubles. They planned to rent a boat, place the currency in zip-locked bags in the middle of the
and push them towards the Lao side of the river. They saved some of the bank notes to pass out to people in Mekong River and bribed the Thai boatman with currency and a bottle of Jack Daniels to take them to a Lao fishing village. Laos
On an impulse they then decided to go into
and distribute some of the banknotes. They crossed the river to the Lao fishing Laos where Donna passed out the bills while Jim took video and photos. As they were ready to leave, two armed soldiers appeared. The two were arrested and eventually held in the Pakse police station for eight days. Donna pretended to be an innocent woman who was looking for lost Americans who might not know the war was over. She was continually interrogated and signed a "confirmation" that stated she was sorry that she had broken international law. Meanwhile, the other 5 members of Homecoming II Group had arrived in Thailand, rented a boat and after tossing about 5,000 mixed currency bills into the Lao side of the Mekong, were arrested by Thai Navy and held for about 4 hours. villageof Ban Mai
Jim and Donna were flown from Pakse to
on the 9th day. A Dozen Lao armed with rifles blindfolded them and took them to a building. On the way the two were threatened with guns placed at their heads, but it turned out to be a joke played by the Lao on their American captives. Donna was held in what looked like an office that had been turned into a cell. She was visited twice by a Mr. Steele from the American Consulate during the next 30 days. She was interrogated by a "judge" who acted as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He was not fooled by her innocent act and Donna was told later that he was KGB. Vientiane
Donna was later told by a representative of the Central Committee that she had been found guilty of breaking international law and of causing trouble for the Lao people. The trouble allegedly was that instead of working for the government, many Lao people were now looking for lost Americans for the cash reward. Donna considered that a victory for her cause. The two Americans were eventually told that they would be freed after paying $1,500 for their stay in
. The American Embassy refused to front the money because they considered it a ransom payment. However, on Veterans Day weekend, thousands of Laos veterans threatened to demonstrate at the Lao embassy for their release and a deal was made where the $1,500 would be paid, no demonstration held, and the two trespassers released. Donna told me: Vietnam
I was held from 3 October to 12 November 1988; 41 days, 2 hours and 23 minutes, but who the hell is counting.
Donna Long and Jim Copp in
After their release from
Laosand return to , Jim and Donna were told by a Thai Captain that they would be held in jail for the weekend. Donna told him that she was sick and her medicine was in her hotel room. She pointed out to the Captain that it would not look good if after surviving 41 days in communist Thailand Laos, she died during a weekend in a jail. The Captain quickly released her. Thailand
In February of 1989 The group led by former Congressman Billy Hendon sailed a converted Vietnamese fishing boat off Hainan Island where they released 600-700 multicolored balloons into the wind currents flowing toward Vietnam and Laos.
Government officially offered a reward again in 2006. According to the Associated Press, the United States U.S.government offered a $50,000 reward on 11 November 2006 for information leading to the recovery of an Iraqi-born American Army translator kidnapped in three weeks earlier. Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, a 41-year-old reserve soldier from Baghdad was abducted by gunmen on 23 October while visiting his Iraqi wife at her familys home. Allegedly, the kidnappers demanded $250,000 in ransom. Michigan
We have barely scratched the surface of the use of reward leaflets in Vietnam. This article is intended only to introduce the subject. Interested readers are encouraged to write to the author at email@example.com.
© May 6, 2006