October 4, 2022

This is the third post of the series ‘Sound As A Weapon’. If you have missed the previous posts, you can read them here – part 1, part 2.

In my previous posts, I talked about Soviet and Nazi sonic weapons.

This time, the weapon is from the USA. A psychological weapon that used sound to terrify Vietcong soldiers in the Vietnam War.

6th PSYOP Battalion

The 6th Psychological Operations Battalion of the United States Army, was a unit specifically created for the Vietnam war.

The PSYOP battalion was tasked with coming up with ways to damage the morale of the NVA/Vietcong Soldiers.

During the war, they came up with the idea of ‘Operation Wandering Soul’ which was a propaganda and psychological operation carried jointly out by the US army and the South Vietnamese.

Superstitions

According to the religious beliefs in Vietnam, there are two types of Deaths.

There is a ‘Good Death‘ and a ‘Bad Death‘.

A Death is considered to be good when the deceased died a natural death, surrounded by loved ones and then received a proper funeral.

But if the Death was caused by an accident, Violence, or perhaps by a war, and if the funeral was not held correctly, the soul of the deceased was damned to roam around the world, suffering for eternity.

The PSYOP Battalion figured, that this could be used against the North Vietnamese.

The Ghost Tapes

Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like.

The United states Army made a few ‘Ghost tapes’ to apparently scare the NVA soldiers and make them want to return to their home/ stop fighting.

Audio tapes containing the noise of banging gongs, Children crying, and the voices supposed fallen comrades of the Vietcong soldiers were recorded with the help of South Vietnamese Volunteers.

The ‘Fallen Soldiers’ would urge their comrades to stop fighting so they could avoid suffering from a bad death. They would say how they missed their family and their kids in an attempt to make the NVA soldiers realize what they were risking to fight the Americans and make them give up.

you can listen to one of them here.

These Tapes were played from Speakers in the middle of the jungle, from helicopters etc.

Effectiveness

The reported effectiveness of these tapes differed from source to source.

Some said that the NVA knew that these tapes were fake, but they weren’t completely useless.

“Even though they knew the tapes were false, the messages were hard to ignore.”

An anonymous Vietcong Commander said in an interview with the BBC.

While Some said that the tapes were extremely effective.

“It was probably very effective since it gave me the creeps even though I was the one causing it”

-Lieutenant Junior Graden, Tom Burns

“The tape was so effective that we were instructed not to play it within earshot of South Vietnamese forces because they were as susceptible as the Vietcong”

 – Raymond Dyche, Commander of US 6th Psyop Battalion. 
Propaganda Image from the War
Propaganda Image from the War

However, the advocates of these tapes would admit that as the tapes lost their novelty, they became less effective as the NVA would just shoot at where the sounds were coming from.

However effective they may be as a weapon of war, these tapes sure do send chills down your spine.

Epilogue

This was the last part of the series ‘Sound As A Weapon’. I will come back

with some more weird and interesting examples of military tech very soon! Meanwhile, you can read the other posts on The Startech.

Cheers! and See you soon!

1 thought on “Sound As A Weapon Pt.3 – Operation Wandering Soul

  1. The concept that sound can be a two faced coin and that it can become a disaster for many when used as a weapon is very out of the box and interesting 👍👍
    Part 2 especially was great

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