Hanoi Hannah

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Trịnh Thị Ngọ (born in 1931),[1] also known as Hanoi Hannah, is a Vietnamese radio personality best known for her work during the Vietnam War, when she made English-language broadcasts for North Vietnam directed at US troops.

Early life[edit]

Ngọ was born in Hanoi in 1931 in a rich factory owner's family. She recalls that she grew eager to learn English because of her desire to watch her favorite films such as Gone with the Wind without subtitles. Her family provided her with private lessons in English. When she was 25 years old she began reading the English language newscast for Vietnam’s national radio station that was aimed at listeners in Asia’s English-speaking countries.[2]

Radio Hanoi[edit]

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s she became famous among US soldiers for her propaganda broadcasts on Radio Hanoi (in fact, there were several "Hanoi Hannahs", but she was the senior and most frequently heard one). At that time, she made three broadcasts a day, reading the list of the newly killed or imprisoned Americans, attempting to persuade US GIs that the US involvement in the Vietnam War was unjust and immoral and played popular US anti-war songs in an attempt to incite feelings of nostalgia and homesickness amongst US troops. Although she used the alias Thu Huong, (Vietnamese: "the fragrance of autumn"), the GIs usually called her "Hanoi Hannah" or "the Dragon Lady". Few if any desertions are believed to have ensued from her propaganda work[3] and the soldiers "hooted at her scare tactics",[2] but were often impressed by her military intelligence, when she mentioned the location of their own unit (whereupon it was customary to "give a toast to her and throw our beer cans at the radio") and listed specific US casualties.[3] There were exaggerated legends of her omniscience, with rumors that she would give clues about everything from specific future Vietnamese attacks to soldiers' girlfriends cheating on them at home or jilting them.[3] In fact, most of her information came from publications such as the US military newspaper, Stars and Stripes.[2][3] Below is an excerpt from one of her broadcasts:

How are you, GI Joe? It seems to me that most of you are poorly informed about the going of the war, to say nothing about a correct explanation of your presence over here. Nothing is more confused than to be ordered into a war to die or to be maimed for life without the faintest idea of what's going on.[4]

A January 1966 Newspaper Enterprise Association article by Tom Tiede described the program:

"Hannah's shows are invariably the same. After the news is an editorial denouncing U.S. escalation of the war. Then a recording by an Asian soprano who sounds as if she's having her ears pierced. Then, Mailbag Time ('write us for the truth, friends')." [5]

According to war correspondent Don North's assessment:

By zapping the truth through an ostrich-like policy censorship, deletions, and exaggerations U.S. Armed Forces Radio lost the trust of many GIs when they were most isolated and vulnerable to enemy propaganda. It wasn't that Hanoi Hannah always told the truth - she didn't. But she was most effective when she did tell the truth and U.S. Armed Forces Radio was fudging it.[3]

After the war, she returned to live in Ho Chi Minh City with her husband. Ngo was by then better known in the US than in her own country.[3] She was offered a job on HCMC Television but instead stayed at home to take care of her husband who had suffered a stroke. She currently lives in Ho Chi Minh City with her family.[2]

References in popular culture[edit]

Her voice can be heard in the Video game Battlefield Vietnam during Quang Tri and the reclamation of Hue over the public address system, as well as during the main screen if the player waits until after the LBJ quote. (ex. "They will give you a medal, G.I., but only after you are dead.") This quote can also be heard in the trailer for Battlefield Bad Company 2 Vietnam. A recording of her voice giving her "Nothing is more confusing" quote can be heard remixed amongst the loading music of the popular Battlefield 2 modification Project Reality by Black Sand Studios, in the Vietnam miniature mod for the map Dien Duong.

Robin Williams' character Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam compared her to the Wicked Witch of the West in the lead character's Wizard of Oz parody, by referring to her as "The Wicked Witch of the North".

In the season 3 episode of China Beach,"A Rumor of Peace," the character Boonie is heard listening to her list college sports scores; he and two other characters discuss where she gets her information, with one citing a deal with Nick the Greek. In another scene, a wounded soldier asks McMurphy to switch his radio station, and tells her to stop when he hears Hanoi Hannah.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thanh Minh (2006-01-28). "Americans hear the 'Voice of Vietnam'". Voice of Vietnam (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d Shock and awe, Hannah Hanoi style. at the Wayback Machine (archived August 22, 2008) Thanhnien News. Retrieved 22.9.2008
  3. ^ a b c d e f The Search for Hanoi Hannah, by Don North
  4. ^ Hanoi Hannah, 16 June 1967
  5. ^ Tiede, Tom, Newspaper Enterprise Association, "'Hanoi Hannah' Talks To GIs", Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Thursday, 6 January 1966, Volume 19, Number 340, page 5.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]