I was watching a footage from (I believe an early stage) Vietnam War and here and there I see Vietnameses troopers among American troopers. You can distinguish them by red robe on their necks (like for example at 9:52 min. of this YouTube video: DIRTY SECRETS of VIETNAM - Booby Traps & Snares). And I suppose those were translators.

I believe that during the 1960's in Vietnam it was not so common to speak English so is there any information where those Vietnamese translators were recruited from (maybe some students or something)?

  • 1
    You believe that it was not common to speak English; have you done any research to support or undermine this hypothesis? Could the translators have learned precisely to support foreign troops?
    – MCW
    Oct 29, 2016 at 23:30
  • The translators may also have been speaking French.
    – justCal
    Oct 31, 2016 at 4:18
  • 1
    Speaking French among American troops seems equally impossible as speaking English among Vietnam citizens. Nov 1, 2016 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


Not Translators.. There are three possible explanations which I would place above translators. The frames in question came from Operation New York ( frame 9:20) March of 1966.

One Answer is in Nov 1963 South Vietnamese experienced a coup. The American backed President of South Vietnam was President Diem was caught and murdered by his own military lead by General Dương Văn Minh. Subsequently loyalists to President Diem were hunted caught and either killed or detained as General Durona consolidated power. Units loyal to the new government wore red bandanas around their necks to symbolize which side they were on. So it's telling that this was a South Vietnamese soldier wearing the bandana, this is a possible reason. Operation New York post dates the coup by about 14 months.

Another possible explanation was that the North Vietnamese used red scarf to symbolize their Young Pioneers. Perhaps the South Vietnamese soldier was wearing it as a trophy.

Finally. In 1968, which is a little later in the war from Operation New York soldiers wore a red scarf as a kind of peace symbol. Perhaps the frames were from a little later in the war and were put in with the film of Operation New York. This could explain it also.

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