What’s so interesting about this photograph of a Viet Cong woman fighter?
Photo © Le Minh Truong
Firstly, she’s wielding an M-16, the standard issue American solider’s rifle.
Secondly, it’s another great propaganda photo from the North Vietnamese – I plan to feature more later. Not for the North Vietnamese a free press reporting on fear, battlefield wounds, death and atrocities inflicted on civilian populations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, although the North Vietnamese carried out more than their fair share of the latter, and had more than their fair share of the others visited on them.
The North Vietnamese wanted a more conventional, propagandized view of the war and of their Nation being depicted through the lens, and, let’s face it, with many Vets blaming the US media for losing the war in Vietnam, they were right to play it that way.
The third interesting thing about the main photo is something the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong did as a matter of course; they put women fighters in frontline battlefield roles.
It wasn’t just for the cameras; North Vietnamese women were deeply involved at all levels of the military campaign throughout the war, especially at the business end, fighting against the American-led forces in the jungle.
As can be imagined, the Vietnamese didn’t just take M-16 rifles from US soldiers; they took anything they could get their hands on, as the below photos demonstrate.
Given they were also reduced to manufacturing their own pistols, rifles, grenades and, of course, devastatingly effective booby traps on trails in the jungle, it’s no surprise that reliable American weaponry was so highly coveted.
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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