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Open Arms Program (South Viet Nam) Historical

Chiêu Hồi

Last modified: 2022-04-23 by randy young
Keywords: vietnam | south vietnam | viet nam | open arms | chiêu hồi |
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[Open Arms program flag]

[Open Arms program pennant]
images by Pete Loeser, taken from Historical Flags of Our Ancestors

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About the program

The Open Arms Program, first created by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, was part of a campaign attempted by the American military and the South Vietnamese government to encourage defection of Viet Cong and their supporters during the Vietnam War. The results were mixed, by 1967 approximately 75,000 defections had been recorded, but critics of the program speculate that less than 25 percent of them were genuine. By the program's end, however, the number of Viet Cong that did defected under the Chiêu Hồi program reached over 100,000.

The most common ways that information about the program was spread was by leaflets, some delivered by special artillery shells or dropped by aircraft over enemy-controlled areas. The propaganda message was also spread via radio messages broadcasted over relevant areas of South Vietnam.

Many of the defectors, known as the Hoi Chanh, were integrated into allied units, called "Kit Carson" or "Tiger" Scouts, and used in the same areas where they had defected, both as intelligence scouts and recruiters for the program. By 1970, 230 Kit Carson Scouts had been killed in action, 716 wounded, and over 2,300 scouts served with U.S. forces. Many of these Hoi Chanh made great contributions to the effectiveness of the U.S. units, and often distinguished themselves, earning military decorations and honors.
Pete Loeser
Source: Flags of Our Ancestors: Cold War Era


[Open Arms program pennant]
image located and forwarded by Ted Kaye, 15 February 2022

This may or may not be of interest to you but I can't see a flag without thinking of you. This is from a Vietnam History blog on FB that I signed up for.

Chiêu Hồi, you may recall, was an early Saigon attempt to woo VC back to the government side with various enticements...'Open Arms' is the way it got translated. This pennant was apparently part of the paraphernalia--I never saw one, and I guess the guy that posted it hadn't either.

I have seen Chiêu Hồi T-shirts, leaflets, pocket tabs, posters, shopping bags, ammo bags, etc. I never saw this pennant before.
Ted Kaye, 15 February 2022