Saturday, February 20, 2016

Republic of Vietnam Enlisted Army Berets - Quân lực Việt Nam Cộng hòa

Republic of Vietnam enlisted rank berets, circa 1960s-70s, RVNHS Archive.

            Berets worn by regular troops of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam were typically wool, and were either black or a tan/khaki color. A gold color badge denoted an officer rank, and a silver badge signified enlisted. The badges themselves could be either metal, bullion, or embroiderd cloth. The two examples shown here are black and tan versions of enlisted berets with bullion badges. The black features an added plastic covering, which tailors sometimes applied to beret badges to ensure their protection from the elements. Fewer enlisted berets of this type survive today than officer ranks, so we cherish these original examples that the RVNHS Archive has been able to acquire.

A soldier of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam wearing a black enlisted beret,
1960s, RVNHS Archive.

US Vice-President Spiro Agnew and Nguyen Cao Ky review
the Republic of Vietnam Presidential Guard, 1970.
Note the black enlisted berets on the members of the Presidential Guard.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Warning: Fraudulent Sales using RVNHS Text & Images

              In the several years since the RVNHS website was created, we have seen text and images from the site used without our permission for all manner of purposes by a great number of individuals. This has ranged from simple reposting of our material on different websites and forums, to our images and text appearing in print publications. However, the improper usage of material from our website which is the most troubling to us is when our text and images are used to promote fraudulent sales, i.e. "fakes" being passed off as original Republic of Vietnam pieces. We have seen this happen many times, particularly on the world's largest online auction site, eBay. In each instance we become aware of, we go through the appropriate steps to report the auction to eBay, and have it removed. This has become such a common event that not nearly a month goes by when we do not have to report such items several times. But, today, we became aware of two particular items being sold by a seller in Vietnam, which truly underline how severe the situation can become.

        Our purpose for posting this information is to bring awareness to this issue, and prevent unsuspecting individuals from being taken advantage of by fraudulent sellers using text and/or images off of our website. In this posting, we would like to highlight two items being sold on eBay by the seller with the username " greenhorn_0212 ." He is located in Vietnam, and, like many Internet sellers in Vietnam claiming to offer original Republic of Vietnam military items, his are of questionable authenticity.

Screenshot of the original training helmet shown on the RVNHS website.

Fraudulent helmet on eBay based off of the original on RVNHS site.

Description stolen from RVNHS website and used in auction for the fradulent training helmet.
Note how the fraudulent seller even includes the "strong provenance" statement, just as we wrote on our website about the helmet in our collection.

        What motivated us to make a post about this seller in particular is that we believe two of his current auctions are of helmets which were specifically created, i.e. "faked," as copies of original helmets we have on our website. Each helmet bears a striking similarity to ones we have, down to damage and marks of use. The seller is passing them off as original pieces, but it is clear they are fakes made in the fascimile of items shown on our website. A final point to confirm is that the seller uses the descriptions we have for our pieces on our website in his auctions.

Screenshot of the original camouflage covered helmet on the RVNHS website.

Fradulent camouflage helmet on eBay based off of the original on RVNHS site.

Description stolen from RVNHS website and used in auction
for the fradulent camouflage helmet.

      It is because of the activities of fraudulent sellers, like the one shown here, that we do not post large-scale high resolution images of items from the RVNHS Archive online. If we showed close-up images, it would just be more information that fraudulent sellers could use to create fakes to fool unknowning buyers.

           RVNHS is a non-profit group whose purpose is to archive, document, promote, and preserve the history of the Republic of Vietnam. Fraudulent sellers like these ultimately only damage the ability of groups and individuals to preserve history. We are not in the business of selling original pieces. But, when we see material from our website used to promote fraudulent sales, we take offense. It is for this reason we made this post today, and we would like to thank you for taking the time to review it. We also encourage you to share this posting with anyone you know who may be interested so as to prevent unsuspecting individuals from falling prey to fraudulent listings like the two shown here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy New Year! - 23rd Infantry Division Flag: Chúc Mừng Năm Mới - Sư đoàn 23 Bộ binh

Early Republic of Vietnam 23rd Infantry Division Flag, front side,
1950s-60s, RVNHS Archive.

              In honor of the new year, RVNHS would like to share this recent acquisition to the archive. We have been working towards acquiring this one of a kind artifact for years out of a private collection, but it is with great joy that it is now the center-piece of the RVNHS Archive. This is an original superbly made example of a Republic of Vietnam army division flag. It dates from the early years of the republic, and to the best of our knowledge there are no comparable divisional flags in existence.

Early Republic of Vietnam 23rd Infantry Division Flag, reverse side,
1950s-60s, RVNHS Archive.

              The flag is for the 23rd Infantry Division ( Sư đoàn 23 Bộ binh ). The division was founded in 1959, and this flag dates to that early period. Each division had one official flag at any given time, which was carried by the division's color guard. Each flag would be periodically retired and replaced with a new flag over time. Often these retired flags could be found mounted on the walls of divisional headquarters and officers' messes. This flag bears such markings of having once been mounted for display.

Emperor Bảo Đại, head of the State of Vietnam, reviews a military graduation ceremony.
Note the design of the flag, early 1950s.

             The flag displays exceptional bullion work, and it is constructed in two pieces with different bullion design on each side. The flag features the early style for divisional flags, which consisted of the national flag with division numerals surrounded by wreaths in each corner. This style began appearing during the State of Vietnam (1949-1955), and continued to be used in early flags of the republic through the mid-1960s. In later years, divisional flags were usually designed with the division's insignia in the center, surmounted against a red backdrop with the name of the division in gold.

Close-up view of the flag of the Republic of Vietnam 7th Infantry Division, 1960s. Note the similar design and bullion work as the 23rd Infantry Division flag.

              The lineage of the division began with the formation of the 5th Light Division on August 1st, 1955. Three months later, on November 1st, the division was renamed the 15th Light Division. On April 1st, 1959, the 15th Light Division officially was redseignated the 23rd Infantry Division, the name it would carry through 1975. The division was located in the central highlands, and participated in every major campaign in the region through its existence. It also participated in cross-border operations into Cambodia. The division achieved particular fame for the defense of Kontom against the Communist offensive in 1972. In 1975, the division met its end when it was overwhelmed by superior numbers in a final defence of Buôn Ma Thuột at the cost of great casualties.

              By sharing this rare artifact during this new year, we would like to reflect on the brave soldiers of the 23rd Infantry Division, and the sacrifices they made to defend the nation of the Republic of Vietnam.

Shoulder patch of the Republic of Vietnam 23rd Infantry Division.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Biere Larue - QLVNCH Quân Tiếp Vụ

Republic of Vietnam soldiers enjoying a meal with bottles of Biere Larue,
1960s, RVNHS Archive.

              In the spirit of the celebrations for the upcoming lunar new year, we wanted to create a post on the most common beer that was available to soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam. Biere Larue (often as referred to as "con cọp" or "tiger" beer) was brewed by the Brasseries et Placieres de L'Indochine Brewery. This brewery was founded in 1909 by the Frenchman Victor Larue, for whom the beer gets its name. Biere Larue along with 33 were the two most common beers in the Republic of Vietnam. Both were rice based, but between 1955 to 1975 the production and distribution of Biere Larue was much greater than that of 33. Biere Larue also most often came in one liter bottles (1000 ml), while 33 was in twelve ounce bottles (350 ml).

Republic of Vietnam soldiers drinking a toast with glasses of Biere Laure,
1960s, RVNHS Archive.

A one liter bottle of Biere Larue, 1960s-70s, RVNHS Archive.

          Unlike 33, Biere Larue was brewed in special batches specifically to be made available to Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces personnel at military commissaries. The bottling for these batches was devoid of the tiger logo and Biere Larue name. Instead, it was replaced by a Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces crest on the front and the national colors on the back. However, the name of the brewery was still imprinted along the base. These bottles were sometimes referred to in the vernacular as "Quân Tiếp Vụ" beer, which roughly translates as "military issue" or "armed forces department" - the phrase that was often labeled on goods provided to soldiers by the military commissaries. Today, Biere Larue is brewed in Vietnam by a subsidiary of Heineken.

A one liter bottle of Biere Larue especially made for the military, 1960s-70s, RVNHS Archive.