Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Quân Cảnh Photo Album

             RVNHS currently houses over 10,000 original photographs pertaining to the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam, circa 1950s-1975. These photos are all personal photographs taken and collected by regular servicemen and women. A goal of RVNHS is for these to one day be digitalized and collected into a database that can be easily accessed for research by the public.

             Most of these photographs take the form of "snapshots" of certain individuals or groups, on duty or at leisure. Many of these images have inscriptions on the reverse noting the identity(ies) of the subjects. Unfortunately, however, the bulk of these images do not. Giving names to these faces may be lost to history, but, nonetheless these visual records serve as a useful means for exploring the history of the Republic of Vietnam.

             It is a very unfortunate common practice that photo albums are often broken up. Individuals selling photographs often choose to take an album apart and sell images individually. This is true for many historical subjects, and the damage this causes is irrevocable. Breaking up an album or personal collection of photographs relating to one individual or group results in the photographs losing their historical context, and often case, their identities as well. The situation for albums associated with the military of the Republic of Vietnam is all the more difficult due to the experience of post-1975 reeducation and suppression of anything related to the former republic. Families fleeing the country typically did not have the luxury of taking mementos, such as photo albums. And, for those left behind, keeping a collection of photographs of a family member who served in the Republic of Vietnam military was dangerous as residences of former soldiers and government workers were subject to frequent searches by political police in the postwar years. For these reasons, photographs of Republic of Vietnam military personnel were often removed from albums or otherwise destroyed.

        RVNHS has been able to acquire a small number of albums over the years. Below is an example of photographs from one such album, in this case a  Quân cảnh  (Military Police) album. Sadly, these photos do not come with any descriptions or names. But, they appear to related to one individual during his time in training for the military police.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Early ARVN Field Cap

                      In the early to mid 1960s, a distinctive soft olive drab field cap with three neck flaps was in use by the military of the Republic of Vietnam. This cap was most common for army infantry units, but examples of these caps in use by members of various branches of the armed forces can be located in period photographs.

A stretcher bearer from the 9th Infantry Division in an early pattern ARVN field cap.

                   The "soft" texture of these caps allowed for easy wear beneath a helmet. However, the neck flaps proved less popular. Contemporary images often show soldiers wearing these caps with the flaps folded upwards inside the cap. In an interview conducted by RVNHS, a veteran who was issued such a cap recalled how he and members of his unit found the flaps to be uncomfortable, and typically removed them. It was perhaps for this reason by the late 1960s these caps were largely phased out, replaced with a stiffer crowned field cap, which many felt was "smarter" looking.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Army Football Team Guidon

                      One of the recent additions to our website was this guidon commemorating a football game played by a team from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam's 2nd Supply and Security Battalion. The unit served in the 2nd Military Region, and the game was played on April 25, 1971.

        Football was (and is) a popular sport in Vietnam. The Republic of Vietnam was one of first Southeast Asian nations to join FIFA, and was a founding member of the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP), today known as the Southeast Asian Games (SEA). Republic of Vietnam military units often organized football teams from among their personnel to play against other military units or civilian clubs. Such activities helped to maintain morale and boost comradery. Guidons were commonly created to commemorate games, and would often hold pride and place in unit mess halls and headquarters.

Members of the Republic of Vietnam team at the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP) in 1959 with game commemoration guidon.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


After a bit of a hiatus, the RVNHS Virtual Museum has been updated. New pieces have been added to different sections. Please browse the site to view recent additions: