‘Hanoi Hannah,’ Whose Broadcasts Taunted And Entertained American GIs, Dies

One of North Vietnam’s most recognizable wartime voices fell silent last Friday, when former radio broadcaster Trinh Thi Ngo, dubbed “Hanoi Hannah” by American service members, died.

Her former employer, the government-run Voice of Vietnam, reported the news on its website Sunday. The radio service says Trinh was 87 when she died, though there are conflicting reports about the year of her birth.

Trinh broadcast under the pseudonym Thu Huong, or Autumn Fragrance. At the height of the war the Voice of Vietnam aired three 30-minute segments of hers a day.

The North Vietnamese Defense Ministry’s propaganda department wrote her scripts, she told the Voice of Vietnam. Their aim was to degrade U.S. troops’ will to fight, and convince them that their cause was unjust.

“Defect, GI. It is a very good idea to leave a sinking ship,” she advised her U.S. listeners in one broadcast. “You know you cannot win this war.”

Don North, a former ABC News reporter, remembers that “members of the special forces A-team would sit around at night and tune in around 10 o’clock to her broadcasts” in the Central Highlands of Vietnam in 1965.

“They would listen very carefully,” he adds, “you know, break out the beers and listen to Hanoi Hannah.”

North says that Trinh’s broadcasts had a “minimal” effect on her listeners. Part of this, he says, was because the signal strength of her broadcasts was too weak to be widely heard across the country. Because she broadcast in English, she was better known to Americans than Vietnamese.

Nor did most GIs find her message credible, North says.

“As she said herself, when she used interviews or tape sent to her from anti-Vietnam war people in the States, she thought they were more effective than her own broadcasts,” he says. Among the anti-war activists broadcast by Trinh was actress Jane Fonda.

Trinh received coaching in her trade from Australian journalist Wilfred Burchett, known for his sympathy for the North’s cause.

As part of North Vietnam’s efforts to demoralize U.S. troops, Trinh read the names and hometowns of GIs killed in action, taken from Stars and Stripes.

To reinforce her message, Trinh played anti-war folk tunes such as Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” and rock songs such as “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place,” by The Animals.

She also highlighted economic and racial inequalities in the U.S., and the Detroit riots of 1967.

“Isn’t it clear that the war makers are gambling with your lives, while pocketing huge profits?” she asked U.S. troops that summer. Trinh did not talk about U.S. victories or the horrible losses suffered by North Vietnam.

Trinh was born into a prosperous family in Hanoi, which was then under French colonial rule.

She studied English and loved Hollywood movies, especially Gone With The Wind. She volunteered to join the Voice of Vietnam in 1955.

“Our program served for a cause, so we believed in that cause,” Trinh told C-SPAN in a 1992 interview. “So we continued to broadcast.”

“She struck me mainly as an intellectual,” says North, who interviewed Trinh in 1976. “Certainly didn’t remind me of a strident propagandist at all.”

After the war Trinh moved to Ho Chi Minh City with her husband, where she worked in television until her retirement roughly a decade later. Her son left Vietnam and moved to the U.S., she told C-SPAN.

Trinh says she never joined the Vietnamese Communist Party, and quickly forgot any anger she had felt against Americans.

Article originally published: npr

 

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38 thoughts on “‘Hanoi Hannah,’ Whose Broadcasts Taunted And Entertained American GIs, Dies”

  1. Can’t really coment on Hannah as I was a Korea Marine, but the propaganda lines noted in this article are the same as we heard and read in 1951. I sent several sheets of Communist propaganda leaflets home and the message was the same, Wall Street and the politicians were getting rich, etc. Kinda sounds similiar to Hillary’s broadcast today? Anyway Semper Fi enjoy the letters.

  2. ” Trinh Thi Ngo (HANOI HANNAH) was a voice in the darkness that brought a smile and good music in rough times. she was a class act that many of us wanted to meet ,even dreamed about. it is truly sad to hear of the passing of such a great lady, a beautiful and smart woman with a good heart. She brings back both good and bad memories, but mostly her sweet, soft, alluring voice, and how it made us laugh and think of ” who this woman was and if she were single (smile)” . Best wishes to her family from a Marine who enjoyed her voice and the music in a place and time always in my heart and mind.

    1. Robert Chan, You’re an Idiot!! Screw her and screw Hanoi Jane. Obviously you had tube on your hands to listen to her bullshit. Obviously never list a brother in combat. For you to be sad about the bitch dying is a disgrace. You should move to Hanoi!! ??????????????

  3. Listened to Hanoi Hannah a couple of times when I was in the Danang area in 1966. She played a verse once to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star that went like this; Bomber Bomber Flying High Like a Demon in the Sky Dropping Bombs to Make Men Die Oh Bomber Tell Me Why. GySgt G.R. Archuleta Never Retired, Always a Marine

  4. Propaganda was a tool of our Enemies – as well as a tool by the USA as well. I heard of Hanoi Hannah and did not really like her playing with the minds of fellow Marines- I also remember Tokyo Rose references from W W 11, and as a United States Marine I remember the reference to Our Code of Conduct we had to memorize- and why we were drilled about it and the reason behind why it was so important to – ” Keep the Faith ” , and never give up in our minds and hearts why we were sent over there – and who we were. I hated Jane Fonda for what she did and we had a Urinal Insert with her picture on it in our head at out Marine Corps League – I will never forgive her for what she did- going to North Vietnam- and years later after being confronted by what she did – she said it is in my past and lets move on! What B S – and I have never since I was discharged watched a movie she was in – or as soon as I hear a record of hers on the radio _ I change the station or turn the radio off for a few minutes.

  5. During WWll, my dad’s flight of B-29s all listened to Tokyo Rose and were stunned to hear her say the names, hometowns, rank, and aircraft serial numbers as they flew towards the Mariana Islands. Their guns were still in cosmoline and they didn’t have any ammo. At Kwajaline they cleaned the guns and loaded 100 rounds per gun.

  6. When I was at Vandergrift combat base, we listened to her one night. She named several of the Marines loved ones and the broadcast was extremely demoralizing. We had 1 private whose name she called and called his wife by name and said that she ran off with his best buddy that just rotated back to the world. He was so upset that during a firefight the following day, he stood up and was killed. We didn’t find out until several weeks later the the VC shot down a chopper that was caring our mail to us. She used the info in those letters for several weeks, broadcasting very destruct full personal information which had a devesting affect on our operating performance & morale. As for that Bitch Jane Fonda, in the past wars she would have received the electric chair for “giving aid & comfort to the enemy” She was a treasonous BITCH!

  7. pleasego back to old format for newsletter. I read 3 letters and can’t get any more. this new format really s–ks!

    1. I feel the same way gentlemen, I like the old format, it wasn’t broke so leave it alone don’t try to fix it. 3 stories and comments, not that great.

  8. Hanoi Hannah, a Love/Hate remembrance for me. I remember looking forward to hearing Hanoi Hannah on the radio while on numerous Fire Support Bases in and around the A Shau Valley 68-69, especially on LZ Cunningham during Operation Dewey Canyon. I was a 4 Deuce Mortar PltSgt. We all used to love to cuss her out and wished we could stick a blasting cap down her “Deep Throat”, to shut her up. As you can tell, I’m trying to be a little PC :>) Her death does bring closure to many who heard her extreme anti-American Hate Speach. Remember this one, “I hope you forget to take your Malaria pills”. Now , we await the good news that Hanoi Jane joins up with Hannah in HELL. Having said all of that, I must say that Hanoi Hannah was right when she said many times that we can not Win this WAR. She and her comrades knew something that we in the bush didn’t, and that was the dark secret that our politicians would settle for a pullout without a victory and without honor. Today we suffer the same spineless rules of engagement that will cost many more American lives on the battlefield, while our current administration uses our military for a social experiment. No wonder so many young men and women avoid the military. Semper Fi, Keep your powder dry. JD Usmc 63-93

  9. SGT D. F. ROHDE USMC In early March of 1965, we landed at Danang and via our jeeps, trucks and vans , crossed the Tourane River on lighters and moved over to the end of the airbase and established our initial elements of the BLSG. The first night, while filling sandbags, etc. we listed to what I recall was HANOI HATTIE, NOT HANOI HANNAH. The difference might have been attributable to clarity of the air waves or who knows. But for years it was Hanoi Hatti. Well, I could say something, but it would be negative and the war is over, so What The Hello, OVER Semper Fi, and as the SgtMaj said, Keep your powder dry! DFR USMC RVN 65-66

  10. I hereby order Sgt Grit to give me “squat thrusts till you die” for screwing up the format of this newsletter. READY…….HIT THE DECK!

  11. I have to agree with the others wanting the old format back. This new one is NOT an improvement. Change is not always for the better. Remember “New” Coke?

  12. I always had my suspicions that “Hanoi Hannah” and Jane Fonda were one and the same. Has anyone in the Hollywood area completed a health and welfare check on Fonda?

  13. This new format sucks. Expect Hanoi Jane grave pissing line to be quite long. Agree that Sgt. Grit has gone down hill as prices for gear gone way way up.

  14. Ironic, isn’t it? That her son moved to the U.S. Never really listened to her. AFRTS or “AFARTS” as we called it was out station of choice. Arrived in DaNang May ’65. Turned 18 in July in Chu Lai the same year, drinking Carling Black Label and Ballatines in a sand floor bar with barrels of sand by the front door “Clear Weapons Before Entering”. Twenty-two months in and out before leaving in May ’69. Back again in ’75 for the evac from DaNang to Saigon.

  15. The new format sucks swamp water through a flavor straw. It’s awful. ALSO, THERE IS A RUMOR GOING AROUND THAT DON (SGT GRIT) BAILED AND SOLD THIS LASH-UP TO A DOGGIE. I DON’T KNOW IF THAT IS TRUE OR NOT BUT WOULD APPRECIATE SOME FEEDBACK ON THAT CLAIM.

  16. The V.C. never defeated us on the battlefield, rather the war was lost in Washington because of idiotic politics! sadly we fought another land war in Asia which was just as vicious and nasty as Vietnam! yet Washington never learns! the Philippine Insurrection lasted from 1898-1906 and in that conflict women children and the elderly were killed, whole villages erased and it was kill or be killed because the insurgents took no prisoners. sadly one Marine officer was court martialed for shooting a ten year old, yet in spite of all this the Corps managed to do it’s duty and kept itself accountable for it’s actions through out the conflict. war by it’s nature is terrible yet the Marines never lost their humanity or compassion. I think of general smedly butler who did not agree always with our foreign policy yet never stopped being a Marine or loving our country, his is an example we should always remember and emulate. semper fi do or die!

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