1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

Expanding the Capability of

 the Reproduction Section

Mission Potential Increases

With Additional Work Space


Reproduction Section photo lab specialist shown in the darkroom of the new Reproduction Section facility using a 35-mm film enlarger bought at the Post Exchange

Photo Credit: MIV

This Reproduction Section specialist, shown in the site-built photo lab, and adjusting the Lucky brand commercial enlarger purchased at the Post Exchange, processed the majority of "B" Detachment's conventional film -- without benefit of darkroom staples such as air conditioning, direct ventilation, running water, sinks, film or print washers or dryers.

"B" Detachment's role as an informal source of conventional photographic support expanded as the existence of its capability for processing conventional film became known by word-of-mouth among military circles in and around DaNang beginning in mid-1967.  The photos below were developed and printed in "B" Detachment's facility from exposed film that was captured by ground troops in 1968 and brought to the Reproduction Section for processing.  They seem to show actual Viet Cong (VC) organizing and military training activities in a hamlet or village, and they are most noteworthy in that they may actually illustrate VC methodology as described in books written by Vietnam War veterans who worked closely with the civilian population.  

Captured photograph showing a rally of what appear to be local civilian Vietnamese people under a banner of the Communist Party of Vietnam

Photo Credit: Don Skinner, "B" Detachment, Reproduction Section, 1969-1970

The activities pictured in this series of extraordinary photographs may be 1) a "revolutionary council" meeting , and 2) a training exercise in a village somewhere near DaNang.  Revolutionary Councils were used by the Viet Cong to control the populace of hamlets and villages throughout the countryside of Vietnam.  The photographs from this captured film may have been taken by the Viet Cong (VC) or even North Vietnam Army (NVA) operatives for use as propaganda or for transmittal to higher levels as examples of VC proselytizing activity in I Corps Tactical Zone.

A Unique View of the War in Villages and Hamlets

"And so the struggle progressed, with the hapless rice farmers . . . caught forlornly in the middle.  By night, disciplined Communist political officers explained over and over to the villagers the realities of their "plight," while during the day, government civil servants laid down barrages of anti-Communist exhortations.  . . . Both sides recruited for military manpower relentlessly, and both sides equally demanded the loyalty of the peasants.  Thus, a rice farmer . . . could easily find himself sitting under a banner at midnight, participating in an antigovernment rally during which he might play the role of an outraged and exploited peasant, under the watchful eye of a Communist propaganda cadre."

Stuart A. Herrington, Stalking the Vietcong, Inside Operation Phoenix: A Personal Account, Presidio Press, 1982.

Captured photograph of three men at a table in front of a banner associated with the National Liberaton Front -- or Viet Cong

Photo Credit: Don Skinner

Above Left:  Scene from a meeting, presumably in a village near DaNang.  Participants appear to be giving a salute in front of a banner reminiscent of the flag of the Communist Party of Vietnam, which placed a yellow hammer and sickle in the upper left corner of a solid crimson field.  Above Right: Another scene of a meeting.  In this instance, the backdrop is the flag of the National Liberation Front -- or Viet Cong.  In color, the flag is red, blue and yellow, divided horizontally with a five-pointed star in the center.  It is said that the top section was red to represent the blood of the people, with their struggle being represented by the blue of the lower section. The yellow star stood for the Asian race, the five points of which represented a separate class of individual -- student, farmer, industrialist, merchant and soldier.

Sappers In Training

Captured photograph of three young Vietnamese men stalking among the huts in a village, barefoot and dressed in shorts, and carrying a variety of what appear to be older rifles of French and American manufacture

Photo Credit: Don Skinner

The Viet Cong In Action

"The enemy troops had raced through the empty compound, tossed their satchel charges through the windows . . . and triumphantly raised a red, blue and gold Vietcong flag on the flagpole.  . . . In the morning curious crowds gathered at the central marketplace to gawk at the bodies of the fallen men.  The dead sappers [i.e., demolition specialists] appeared to be youths of eighteen or nineteen, clad only in shorts and pistol belts.  Their barefoot bodies were camouflaged with charcoal and mud . . ."

Stuart A. Herrington, Stalking the Vietcong, Inside Operation Phoenix: A Personal Account, Presidio Press, 1982.

And Why They Wore Shorts . . .

"The North Vietnamese organized their anti-recon units (infantry units specifically created to search for and destroy US Army special operations group, or SOG, reconnaissance patrols along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and deep in hostile territory) to have offensive and defensive capabilities.  Sappers were trained to carefully observe and then sneak up on enemy troops, armed only with AK-47s and grenades or explosive charges.  The sappers usually did this wearing only shorts, the better to feel the wind and underbrush, the better to use all their senses to navigate silently until they were among the sleeping enemy and could attack."

James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi, Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War: Military Information You're Not Supposed to Know, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1999

Captured photograph of Vietnamese men, dressed in shorts, gathered around a well or pagoda in an open area

Photo Credit: Don Skinner

Above, Left:  Armed and bare-footed villagers are presumed to be posing or in training since it is doubtful that fighters would compromise their night vision by posing for flash photographs during an actual operation.  One identifiable weapon appears to be an American M-1 Garand rifle dating from World War II.  Above, Right: A group of men engaged in an unidentified activity -- perhaps retrieving weapons from a hidden cache for a training activity.  Unlike their North Vietnam Army (NVA) compatriots, the Vietcong were generally not uniformed.  

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