Rare CIA Propaganda Leaflets Dropped in Laos during the Vietnam War

Rare CIA Propaganda Leaflets Dropped in Laos during the Vietnam War

U.S. propaganda leaflets like these were dropped over rural areas of Laos. This sequence shows villagers being rounded up by the Pathet Lao, or Laotian Communists, and forced into hard labor with terrible living conditions. Notice an elderly man depicted in this sequence collapsing from exhaustion in the last scene. (© Terry Wofford, Wofford Collection, wisc.edu)

These extremely rare photographs date from 1970 and show propaganda leaflets dropped on rural areas of Laos during the Vietnam War by Air America planes on behalf of the CIA, who were waging a propaganda battle in the countryside, trying to discourage young men from joining the Communist cause.

A young man is seduced with promises of an education and fulfilling work by the Pathet Lao, or Laotian Communists. Instead he is forced to fight and live in miserable conditions. (© Terry Wofford, Wofford Collection, wisc.edu)

A young man is seduced with promises of an education and fulfilling work by the Pathet Lao (Laotian Communists). Instead he is forced to fight and live in miserable conditions. (© Terry Wofford, Wofford Collection, wisc.edu)

The photographer, Terry Wofford, was married to an Air America pilot, Robert Wofford, and living in Vientiane at the time. She believes Robert brought the leaflets home after an air drop he’d flown, and she saved them as a part of her personal record of that period of their lives.

Such leaflet drops were often done at night and enormous stacks of leaflets would be kicked off the back of pallets out of the cargo doors of planes such as the Caribou below.

Air America Caribou in flight (Robert L. Wofford, wisc.edu)

Air America Caribou in flight (© Robert L. Wofford, Wofford Collection, wisc.edu )

During the course of the Vietnam War, billions of propaganda leaflets were dropped in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, mostly along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where the US waged a long and intensive Psyops war against the North Vietnamese, Viet Cong and Pathet Laos troops on and around the Trail.

A Laotian Air Freight Specialist ("kicker"*) at the back of an Air America Caribou communicates with the flight crew during a trip from Sayaboury to Vientiane. (Terry. Wofford, wisc.edu)

A Laotian Air Freight Specialist (“kicker”*) at the back of an Air America Caribou communicates with the flight crew during a trip from Sayaboury to Vientiane. (© Terry Wofford, Wofford Collection, wisc.edu)

© Peter Alan Lloyd

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