View Full Version : Viet Cong torture

Greg Charles
03-12-2005, 09:07 PM
I'll put this question as blandly as possible, because I'm not looking for a debate. I'm looking for reliable online sources* of Viet Cong brutality and torture of American and other prisoners of war. There are certainly a lot of sites out there, but most of them seem to have an agenda. After reading the stories last year told by the Swift Boat Veterans, I'm extremely skeptical of organizations with agendas ... including the ones here. I have a friend who claims that only the Americans used torture, and the VC never did.

Please no debates about justification, etc. And yes, I will be careful how I use this information.

* An oxymoron?

Airman Doors, USAF
03-12-2005, 09:10 PM
The North Vietnamese were the ones noted for their torture of prisoners. The Viet Cong were the guerrilla forces in the south.

Bryan Ekers
03-12-2005, 10:12 PM
Iw as thinking about starting a thread on a related topic: helicopter body-bombing. Period films like Off Limits and even TV shows like WKRP in Cincinnati portray or describe a practice of interrogation where Americans would take VC/NVA prisoners up in helicopters and toss one out to encourage the others to talk. Did this really happen or is it a modern military myth?

03-13-2005, 02:11 AM

You are a young man, with limited experience, hardly qualified to comment on US forces in the Vietnam war.

03-13-2005, 02:20 AM

You are a young man, with limited experience, hardly qualified to comment on US forces in the Vietnam war.And you are making irrelevant comments in GQ in response to a statement of fact.

Doors is right, at least in part: The VC were the guerrillas in the South who supported the NVA coming out of the North. Whether the VC were known for torture is another statement that is true or false based on evidence, not someone's putative age.

03-13-2005, 02:24 AM
Gad, on re read that sounds harsh.

Airman, all I meant to say is, don't assume.

Foreward intellegence is valuable, interogations happened, my guess, still do.

03-13-2005, 02:31 AM
I appologise.

The original post I directed towards ADASAF was a bit more verbose. I backspaced most of it off.

I should not have posted at all, as I am not prepared to post any facts.

Airman Doors, USAF
03-13-2005, 04:04 AM
Airman, all I meant to say is, don't assume.

I didn't assume. I noted that the VC were not noted for their torture. That is not to say that it didn't happen, but when one thinks of torture in Vietnam the first thing that comes to mind for the most part is the Hanoi Hilton, not tactical interrogations.

Leroy Brown
03-13-2005, 05:35 AM
Before I attended USAF SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) I had read several accounts of North Vietnamese torture in POW prisons, but mostly in books and not online. If you search under "rope torture" you should get some reliable results. Because the US never formally declared war on North Vietnam, US prisoners were labelled war criminals by their NVA captors and were thus not subject to the rules of the Geneva Convention. My Dad (retired F-4 WSO)knows several former Hanoi Hilton residents and a remote aquaintance of his was, according to other POWs, tortured to death for an escape attempt from the North Vietnamese prison system. I realize that's far from hard evidence, and I wish I had a name for you, but it was a side remark from a discussion we had a few years back.

one typical account (http://www.vietnamwar.com/POWHonorBound.htm)

USAF Capt. Konrad W. Trautman suffered the rope torture on a dozen occasions. "The pain is literally beyond description," said Trautman, who was shot down and captured Oct. 5, 1967. "After about 10 or 15 minutes in this position, tied up so tightly, your nerves in your arms are pinched off, and then your whole upper torso becomes numb. It's a relief. You feel no more pain. ... However when they release the ropes, the procedure works completely in reverse. It's almost like double jeopardy-you go through the same pain coming out of the ropes as you did going in."

The fact that the North Vietnamese used physical torture in interrogations and as general punishment was established well before the Swift Boat Veterans group came along. I don't think your friend is going to win that debate, there's too much medical evidence and testimony to the contrary. As far as Viet Cong practices go, I don't honestly know. You might start by searching to see if the Russian roulette scenes in The Deer Hunter are based on fact.

I can reccomend some books if you need them. You could probably check them out of a library.

Airman Doors, USAF
03-13-2005, 05:42 AM
Before I attended USAF SERE school...

Aside: Wasn't that a lot of fun? :rolleyes: That was, by far, the most difficult thing I've ever done in the Air Force.

Leroy Brown
03-13-2005, 06:05 AM
Response: The centrifuge at Holloman was the worst thing I've ever done in my LIFE. Nothing at all like pulling G's in real life, just pain, nausea and stress over potentially wasting a lifetime of hoping and preparing to fly by failing to qualify. Most of my friends say the same. I went there two weeks after SERE, which by comparison was kinda fun. I went in late October, so there was no snow, but it wasn't hot either, so the survival stuff was like scout camp redux. The interrogation training wasn't fun at all, but guys who went to the Navy/Marine course got it a lot worse than you and I (cracked ribs, black eyes and such weren't unheard of). I didn't stay for the Advanced Beatings class, did you? If so, <salute>.

Did you make copies of your diploma to store at home? They told us that if our records were ever lost, that would be the only proof of course completion. One guy in our group of 500 had that happen to him and was repeating the couse in his 40's. He didn't make a good "POW camp" morale officer. :p

Tammi Terrell
03-13-2005, 08:51 AM
Brian Ekers wrote:
Iw as thinking about starting a thread on a related topic: helicopter body-bombing. Period films like Off Limits and even TV shows like WKRP in Cincinnati portray or describe a practice of interrogation where Americans would take VC/NVA prisoners up in helicopters and toss one out to encourage the others to talk. Did this really happen or is it a modern military myth?
I can't tell you anything about whether "chopper drops" ever (or sometimes) took place (um, because I haven't really looked into the issue), but here's what a few folklorists who've studied GI and US civilian beliefs about the Vietnam War have to say about this image (for what that's worth),

John Baky's White Cong and Black Clap: The Ambient Truth of Vietnam War Legendry (http://lists.village.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Texts/Scholarly/Baky_White_Cong_01.html) details several distinctive legends of the era and briefly mentions interrogation-by-helicopter.
This cluster of anecdotes focuses on the ideologically suspect image of the routine ejections of rope-bound VC prisoners from the wide-open doors of American helicopters. The ceaseless repetition of this image in the films of the era has risen near to Gospel in its stature. With bound VC prisoners hurtling Earthward in mid-scream, booted gleefully from American choppers, we are given a twinned icon that achieves mythic power. This legend is reinvented so often that the sheer quantities of helicopters and rope would seem logistically much harder to get and keep than the correspondingly requisite numbers of poor prisoners. In fact, in an extraordinary case of logical absurdity, the film Off Limits actually has an American Colonel hurling himself out the door after tossing out three suspected VC.

Thomas Barden and John Provo, who –- like Baky –- are also Vietnam vets, collected evidence of similar beliefs among GIs, and included this take on interrogation stories [1],
The story most [Vietnam veterans who responded to the authors’ request to share bits of Vietnam-War legendry] recalled was of suspected Viet Cong being dropped out of helicopters, or being threatened with it as an interrogation technique. One remembered that a marine named Osborne had testified before Congress in the 1970s about harsh counterintelligence methods in the war. He told about the routine First Marine Division ploy of taking two prisoners up and throwing one out so the other would "spill his beans all over the place." He then described "some other tricks those guys had up their sleeves, like the insertion-of-a-dowel-into-the-brain-via-the-ear trick, starving a suspect to death who was confined in a cage, and everyone's favorite of shocking genitalia (both male and female) with field telephone generators." Most believed the chopper-drop stories were true. One informant mentioned fake executions. "Never saw anyone dropped from a chopper, but I was told by an American interpreter that it was fairly standard procedure to take off with a prisoner, blindfold him in the air, and then fly down slowly to a three foot hover and push him out. Absolutely terrifying." The idea of torturers learning from Shakespeare goes against basic humanist tenets, but this does sound a lot like the scene in King Lear in which the blind-folded Gloucester jumps to what he think to be his death from a low rock. [p. 223]
-- Tammi Terrell

[1] T.E. Barden and J. Provo. Legends of the American Soldiers in the Vietnam War. Fabula 36: 217-229 (1995).

03-13-2005, 03:21 PM
The "chopper drops", torture and summary executions were widely practiced by the French army (http://humanite.presse.fr/journal/2000-07-03/2000-07-03-227956) in both Indochina (Vietnam) and Algeria during the same period.

The helicopter victims were referred to as "crevettes Bigeard" - a quick search only turns up French language references. The English language stuff seems a little "yellow" though the basic facts are the same.

This obviously doesn't prove that the US army used the same methods, but it's worth noting that Gen Paul Aussaresses, who was in charge of intelligence during the "Bataille d'Alger", and is on record as having used torture etc. was the French liaison officer at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga., and was an adviser to the Counterinsurgency Department at the Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, N.C. In 1962 (http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm/include/detail/storyid/253614.html). He is often "credited" with having exported the "chopper drop" to Latin America.

English (http://www.ipsnews.net/new_nota.asp?idnews=24395)

French (http://www.aidh.org/faits_documents/algerie/verite.html)

Of course this doesn't answer the OP's question with regard to the VC.

Airman Doors, USAF
03-13-2005, 11:00 PM
I didn't stay for the Advanced Beatings class, did you? If so, <salute>.

We were initially exempted from the Advanced Beatings class, but new AFSOC regulations make it highly probable that I have to take it in the next year. In fact, it's a virtual certainty as I hear it. I am NOT looking forward to that, not one bit.

BTW, they drew blood beating me, I was black and blue, and from a psychological standpoint there has been nothing in my life more debilitating (and incapacitating) than when they put me in the box. They basically kicked me into it and when I came out I was almost catatonic. I couldn't stop shaking. It didn't help that I was immediately interrogated, either. SERE school was my worst nightmare come true, which was a good thing because I know that it could scarcely get worse were I to be captured.

Hup the Fool
03-14-2005, 12:50 AM
If you are looking for info on Viet Cong torture as opposed to NVA torture, try a book called Five Years To Freedom by Nick Rowe. In the book, Rowe details the torture of himself and other Special Forces officers over a five year period. He eventually escaped and was picked up by a American helicopter. Googling his name brings up several sites but none go into much detail regarding the torture.

Years later, he would be one of the designers of the SERE training that Airman was talking about.