5/17/2019: Weapons of the "Other War" in Viet Nam

If your goal is to win their hearts and minds, the quickest route is through their stomachs. Food was a major weapon of “the other war.” The two photos below demonstrate the process: Americans give the food to a local Vietnamese leader (in this case a Protestant pastor), who then hands it out to his parishioners. Both photos taken by me near DaNang, in 1967. I believe that the American in the first photo was named Joe Langlois. If anyone can confirm that (or correct me), please let me know.
Most of the food we distributed came through P.L. (Public Law) 480, commonly known as “Food for Peace.” I helped to distribute substantial quantities of the stuff during my times in country.
“Food for Peace” had three basic commodities; two strikeouts and a home run. The strikeouts were Bulgur Wheat, a partially processed grain, and CSM, a thoroughly processed blend of corn, soy and milk. The home run was vegetable oil (in the metal cans), because everybody needed to cook.
Sending massive amounts of wheat and corn to feed the people of a rice culture definitely benefited American farmers far more than the recipients, but that was a primary motive of the program. The Vietnamese considered both Bulgar Wheat and CSM to be little better than pig food, but vegetable oil was hugely valuable. The respective prices these commodities fetched on the local black market reflected this dichotomy.
I have much more to say about “Food for Peace” in my book “A Spear Carrier in Viet Nam,” available on Amazon, including my interaction an American general who wanted to put Bulgur Wheat on the General Officers’ Mess at MACV headquarters!

VN PL 480 Ceremony.jpg
VN PL 480 Ceremony two.jpg