A Vietnam War Mystery: Ghosts and Terrifying Screams in the Dark Jungle.

A Vietnam War Mystery: Ghosts and Terrifying Screams in the Dark Jungle.

Above Photo: Valerie Bentson and Dan Renalds during the filming of MIA: A Greater Evil, in the dead of night in the jungle.

The headline could be taken to refer to the content of our latest film, MIA: A Greater Evil, but in fact it doesn’t. It refers to a bizarre (but apparently successful) pyschological warfare operation carried out by the US Army in the jungles of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

A US soldier sits with a skull outside his tent during the Vietnam War.

A US soldier sits with a skull outside his tent during the Vietnam War.

Called Operation ‘Wandering Souls’, it played on the strong cultural-religious beliefs of the Vietnamese that those who die in battle are not ‘at rest’ until they have been properly buried in the earth of their homeland.

This is what our set looked like from only a short distance away -a few lights in the pitch-black jungle

This is what our set looked like from only a short distance away – a few lights in the pitch-black jungle.

Failure to do this means the soldiers’ souls remain lost and wandering, in pain and suffering where they died. In this case, and also relevant for our film – in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

A helicopter fitted out with huge speakers during the Vietnam War, equipped for Psychological Operations.

A helicopter fitted out with huge speakers during the Vietnam War, equipped for Psychological Operations.

The souls can be contacted near the place where they died, but for the more than 300,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong still MIA from the war, and their descendants, this is of little comfort. The death sites and remains of most of these Wandering Souls will forever remain unknown.

A prop on the set of MIA: A Greater Evil

A prop on the set of MIA: A Greater Evil

This is such a potent cultural belief, and the whole issue of ghosts in Vietnamese culture is so powerful, that we even had to shoot an alternative ending for our film so it can be shown in Vietnam.

To exploit the same Vietnamese taboos, during the war, the US devised Operation Wandering Souls to broadcast extremely scary music, screams and ghostly conversations into the jungle at night when they knew the Viet Cong or the NVA were close.

Another night set in the Laotian jungle where we based MIA A Greater Evil

Another night filming on set in the jungle for MIA: A Greater Evil

The voices, pretending to be killed Viet Cong, were intended to scare and confuse the enemy; the desired result being for the soldiers to run away or defect.

The eerie voices claimed to be from Hell, trapped there after dying senseless deaths, looking for their children, and wanting desperately to go home, certainly played to the Viet Cong’s fears of not wishing to end up in the same position when they died out there.

Yours truly on set during the fiming of MIA A Greater Evil

Yours truly on set during the fiming of MIA A Greater Evil

The tapes were broadcast either on the ground, from helicopters or planes.

Ironically, the missions to broadcast these sounds were not popular. Even US soldiers found the sounds genuinely creepy, but the main reason people didn’t want to go on them was the fact that the Vietnamese responded to them with a massive blanket of fire.

There were conflicting reports about the success of the operation, although from prisoner interrogations and desertions, the US knew Operation Wandering Souls had an impact.

One recording, which became known as “Ghost Tape No. 10“, was widely used. I have put a You Tube link to it below.  Having spent so many nights in the jungle filming MIA, I can only imagine how creepy this must have sounded out there.

An Ace of Spades card from a deck of Psyops cards, left to scare the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

An Ace of Spades card from a deck of Psyops cards, left to scare the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

This is a transcript of the below recording:

Funeral Music and the Wailing Sounds of a Moaning Ghost

The Daughter “Hai” Crys Out for Her Father

Daddy, daddy, come home with me, come home. Daddy! Daddy!

The Ghost Father Responds

Hai !

Who is that? Who is calling me? My daughter? My wife?
Your Father is back home with you, my daughter
Your Husband is back home with you, my wife
But my body is gone. I am dead, my family

Tragic … how tragic

My friends, I come back to let you know that I am dead … I am dead

I am in Hell … just Hell

A propaganda photo of a US unit playing the Wandering Souls tape (I can be sure it is a propaganda photo, as they'd be shot to shit by now if they were doing it for real in the jungle).

A propaganda photo of a US unit playing the Wandering Souls tape (I can be sure it is a propaganda photo, as they’d be shot to shit by now if they were doing it for real in the jungle).

It was a senseless death. How senseless … how senseless

But when I realized the truth, it was too late … too late

Friends … while you are still alive …

There is still a chance that you can be reunited with your loved ones

Do you hear what I say?

Go home … Go home friends

Hurry … If not, you will end up like me

Go home my friends before it is too late

Go home! … Go home friends!

More Moans From the Afterlife

For more on MIA: A Greater Evil, see also: http://peteralanlloyd.com/mia-a-greater-evil-an-exclusive-introduction-to-our-forthcoming-film/

 

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