Radio Hanoi Tapes Found In Barn
By John 'Doc' Upton
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The Vietnam Veterans Radio network has obtained audio tapes, recorded between 1964 and 1971, of regular daily broadcasts from Radio Hanoi's 'Voice of Vietnam', "...to American soldiers involved in the war in Vietnam," featuring reporters Thu Houng (better known as 'Hanoi Hannah') and Van Tung.
VVRN received the Radio Hanoi tapes, as well as recordings of Radio Peking, from Jack Bock, a W.W.II vet from Washington state, who had worked as a civilian communications technician in Japan and Thailand during the Vietnam War. In a letter, Jack said he had heard VVRN on Radio For Peace International's short-wave broadcasts, and thought we might be interested in the tapes, which he had stored in his barn until now. Jack said he had recorded the tapes "to get another slant on the news," and pointed to the "charges and counter-charges over the so-called Gulf of Tonkin Incident in August of 1964" as an example, adding, "Looking back, it is easy to see who was lying."
After receiving the tapes, VVRN's initial review found, as Jack had told us, that they contained a great deal of static and interference, including, no doubt, US jamming. We contacted Chuck Haddix, director of the Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-KC, who offered to 'clean' the tapes for us. However, after hearing a portion of 'partially cleaned' tape, and realizing the historical significance of their content, Chuck put us in touch with Les Waffen, director of the Motion Picture, Sound and Video Branch of the National Archives. Les told us that the tapes of Radio Hanoi were "very rare," and said that his department had the equipment and staff necessary to clean the tapes digitally. They did an incredible job!
Except for a change from patriotic Vietnamese music in the earlier tapes to American rock and folk music later, the format of Radio Hanoi's Voice of Vietnam remained basically the same over the years, and includes:
News headlines and reports critical of the Vietnam War from the World, and from around the world
Combat Action Reports, with descriptions of the fighting and the names and locations of the American units involved
Lists of the names, ranks, and serial numbers of Americans killed in action during the previous 24 hours, along with their families' names and hometown addresses
Speeches, poems and songs by American POWs, deserters and antiwar activists
Reports on the anti-Vietnam War activities of active duty GIs, primarily in the US and in Europe, and on VVAW's actions (including the Winter Soldier Investigation, Operation Heart of America, and the signing of the People's Peace Treaty)
Reminders that "Vietnam is not American soil," concern that "you could go home in a body bag," and encouragement to "demand your withdrawal from Vietnam now"
Copies of the Radio Hanoi/Radio Peking tapes, cassette and reel-to-reel, are available from VVRN. To receive a chronological catalog outlining the contents of these historic and revealing broadcasts (68 separate entries) from the Voice of Vietnam, send a self-addressed and stamped (52 cents) envelope plus $1.00, or just a buck and a half, to: VVAW/VVRN, 7807 North Avalon, Kansas City, MO 64152.
Doc Upton is the Midwest Coordinator of VVAW and lives in Kansas City. He was a Navy Medic with the First Marine Division in Vietnam.