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APS Affiliate #38
Viet Cong Coded Correspondence
by Joe Cartafalsa
The Viet Cong had a system of delivering coded messages that fit into the rural countryside of the delta region (4 Corps) of South Vietnam. In the rural regions, when a person talks about someone they need to make sure that the other person understands exactly who you are referring to, as there are only a couple of dozen family names. A person's job title and location are added to the name to differentiate that person with another with the same family name. This is used to hide the identity of the addressee in case a letter is intercepted by the South Vietnamese troops.
The illustrated cover was seized by my brother-in-law's troops (21st ARVN Infantry Division), during the Communist Easter Offensive of 1972, and was given to me.
The cover shown is addressed as follows:
''Mr. Nam Quit sends for:
Please my friend Chac give this letter to Mr. Chin Chua Xe Loi Xeo Vat
and tell him to send this letter to my wife, Mrs Tu Phien.
Mr. Chin will send this letter to my wife through the sampan sailor."
The long Vietnamese name (line three) means:
(1) Ong (2) Chin Chua (3) Xe Loi (4) Xeo Vat where; (1) Mr. (2) the 9th person in the Chua family (3) whose job is the tricycle driver (4) he lives near the river bend.
With this type of coded addresses, a great amount of time was wasted trying to find the intended addressee, with the possibility of the family names used being an alias.
Credit for the reading/interpretation of this cover goes to Mr. Toan Chuan Nguyen, a fantastic philatelist and numismatist who also has a wealth of Vietnamese military knowledge.
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