With regards to this thread I would like to offer the comments of a 2 former individuals who worked with the PRU as company men. I have known one individual for many years and can attest to his knowledge. His comments are in bold type. For some reason the bold type did not appear. Indentation paragrapghs are replies to members.
I know personally two individuals who served multiple tours in Vietnam first as advisors to the airborne and rangers and then as military advisors with the PRU. One, pictured on post 64 shows him wearing the patch for a PRU unit, from if my memory serves me correctly Chau Duc Province.
I believe that insignia both cloth and metal were made and worn, more so in the latter part of the war.
I read this comment: from J. Andrews (wonder if John Andrews)
I was in the Phoenix program (1970-1971, I ctz) and NEVER -- say again, NEVER -- saw any emblem, insignia, patch, badge, etc. etc. worn. Great pains were taken to stay covert.
True, to an extent. But by this time there had been major articles in US, Time, Penthouse, Esquire, etc.
I was an MI officer but was TOLD to wear "Infantry or anything else, except WAC, IG or Chaplain" BOS insignia. We were not even to wear a Natl Police black beret or their duckhunter camo, or black-dyed fatigues.
This time frame was when the US military had taken over more from Agency. There was no reason to wear any kind of insignia other than their normal, makes no sense. Uniforms. Guess by then the PRU were being brought under Nat’l Police umbrella. There were reasons this started to happen in later 60s, to give legitimacy, etc. (ah, the lawyers arrive)
Even the offices were checked for plaques or training materials on the walls or coffee mugs and nameplates. Anything related to Phung Hoang or MI branch was strengste verboten.
BS. I think I still have one of the little handbooks (few pages) that were passed out, etc. heck, everyone knew where the PRU camp was, etc. How else did VC know where/who to attack – as I know well.
I was amazed to find the same applied at the in-country PHX school at Vung Tau. The staffers wore nothing with The Bird and no NPFF or MI items. Signage was likewise "sterile".
This I have to agree with, as never saw patches being worn during my tour
Here is poor quality photo of a 1967 or 68 grad of the PRU school showing the PRU beret badge. SEE PICTURE BELOW.
Dennis. Never saw a patch, all that came in later when the military got involved. I had a large unit in 67-68, and no insignia worn (generally) other than the metal qualification badge. Meant to be awarded to grads of the PRU school at "Vung Tau, but came to be worn by most PRU, on beret, chest, etc. a couple local units started to adopt a patch in 68 and I recall a few then. But it was after I left that the other patches began to appear. Never saw this one for sure, wonder who/why made. Ditto the crests.
The PRUs were known of course, controversial and a lot of hype out there. Reading a few of the comments in the forum I can see it reflected.
Patches. It is crazy now, but I wanted my unit to have a patch but we were remote I Corps and did not want to spend $$, so had a simple thing silk screened in town. Never saw anyone wear it, we just gave to troops. However, we did have a great flag made when we had a visit from President Ky, and Gen Loan, to receive an national award. I have photos of the flag, but at an angle, never thought of history.
I have a friend who was involved in IV Corps, and in fact moved up to the Region office as the PRU officer (detailed from SF). He has some of the later patches, etc., will ask him.
Subject: Fwd: FW: Phoenix patch
Reply from person mentioned above.
Certainly beautiful and carefully embroidered pocket patches, similar to others I have seen, but these appear to be made with additional care. They are the basic Phung Hoang design, and depending when and where you were, and your involvement or non-involvement with the program obviously influenced your exposure to the insignia. I have seen much cruder renditions, worn by personnel where the Phoenix Program participants were known members of PIOCCs. In some areas, especially at the DIOCC level which may enjoy less security, participating members of the Phoenix Program were not so widely known.
A similar bird was on the (US made but US- and RVN-signed) certificate of the 'ANCIENT AND ORIENTAL ORDER OF THE PHOENICIANS' which I personally cannot connect with Phoenix other that it is a VIET NAM CONG HOA heading!! It has various graded of 'BIRDWATCHER' and presented for service with the Phoenix Program. There is a photo of this certificate in Doug Valentine's book The Phoenix Program.
I note a lot of mystique still surrounds the program
The patch you sent seems authentic to me.
From 8240 comments
Some time ago, the same kind of controversy went up concerning the "sniper" patches from the VN era. Many people thought that no one would be suicidal enough to wear such insignias in the field (basic commonsense I would say).
But they were worn ,and photo evidence was posted on this forum.
Yes, the "Phoenix" patches shown here are not the kind of crap that fakers currently crank out nowadays: one point for the genuine theory.
But their very existence is questionable for a covert ops: one point for the fake theory.
But many Special Forces ops were covert...and genuine patches do exist.
This was not a SF operation. And when military took over more, in 70-71, it became more with MI advisors.
In early days. Advisors, detailed to Agency, were from USMC 1st Corps. 2nd and 3rd Corps, USSF and 4th corps more SEAL. IV later shifted to SF, as SF had more personnel available.
Someone made comment about those involved not knowing what went on. Depends on era and location. In some provinces, some of the officers just turned over all control to locals, sometimes the Province Chief; sometimes even down to District. But even then, they usually/usually kept watch as we were footing the bill.
Others.., such as in my case, kept a very time control. The USA was paying the bill and we were going to control. That said. Every mission that went out, we reported to MACV Hqs (AFTER OPN left, not before although they wanted), and Province had people working in same office.
Assassination. Too, too much is made of this mission. There was generally more of an desire to capture and interrogate for information, prisoners were turned over to Province Prison unless higher value. Other missions were to capture weapons, food, equipment. Or surveillance. Or.. for awhile I provided guides to the 101st, some received BS, several ACM and one a PH (might have been more awards)
Here are some books on the subject, some good, some not so good, i.e. anti-war, Agency, etc
ANDRADE, Dale. Ashes to Ashes; The Phoenix Program and the Viet Nam War. Lexington Books, Lexington, MA 1990 ISBN 066920014X
COOK, John L. The Advisor: The Phoenix Program in Vietnam. Schiffer Publishers, Ltd. Atglen, PA 1997 ISBN 0764301373
GENEROUS, Kevin, Vietnam, The Secret War, Gallery Books, New York 1985 ISBN 083179173X
HERRINGTON, Stuart. Stalking the Vietcong: Inside Operation Phoenix: A Personal Account. Presidio Press, Novato, CA 1997 ISBN 0891416412
MOYAR, Mark. Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The CIA’s Secret Campaign to Destroy the Viet Cong. U.S. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD 1997 ISBN 1557505934
Edited by 34BDQ, 14 January 2011 - 03:34 PM.