The Chieu Hoi

While based at the ARVN boot camp near Ben Soi, we had a brief encounter with the Chieu Hoi program when a Viet Cong soldier “came-across” to our side, so-to-speak. I believe these “defectors” were called Hoi Chanhs (returnee), once they promised to stay and help the South Vietnamese.

I remember seeing leaflets falling from the sky on a few different occasions in an effort to get VC and NVA to defect to our side. Possession of a leaflet was supposed to guarantee safe passage for the defector. The VC soldier that defected to our camp was actually a spy of sorts. He had no intention of staying. He just wanted to gather information about our installation and then boogie back to his comrades. Unfortunately for him, he failed to take into account (with any accuracy, anyway) the mine-field that lay between himself and his buddies. He didn’t survive the trip across our mine-field.

The Green Beret advisers to the ARVN camp had a map of the mine field, so they were able to safely recover the enemy soldiers body. Once back inside the berm line, some of the ARVN soldiers starting kicking the body.  Then, a couple of them urinated on the body.  I don’t know what happened after that because I left the scene.

I haven’t done any research on the subject so I don’t know if the Chieu Hoi program had any degree of success or not. Based on our limited exposure to a real Hoi Chanh I could see that the program could turn against us rather easily. I never did feel comfortable having a former enemy walking around in our midst. I didn’t trust him. As it turned out, my feelings were correct. I don’t believe I saw another Hoi Chan during my tour.

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