SP4 Jack Stermer went to Vietnam as an activated reservist while majoring in psychology at UCLA. Little did he know that he would end up using his education in Vietnam while working with the 1st Air Cav and the PsyOps mission named Chieu Hoi. The main objective of the mission was to convince NVA and VC fighters to surrender and give intel info to the US Forces.

TRANSCRIPT – Transcript and Subtitles are generated automatically by YouTube and may contain errors.

good evening vietnam welcome to the
veterans live show
coming to you from lz bunker i’m ronnie
i served with the 101st airborne
division b company first of the 502nd
infantry in vietnam
from december 67 to december 68
and i just want to say thank you to all
you veterans are going to watch tonight
and never forget the guys who
did not come home okay tonight we have a
very special guest
from the first air calvary psyops
spec for jack sternum from
out there in california land should be a
very interesting show
psychology time okay first we’re going
to go next to our vietnam
okay in the vietnam timeline the one
one thing we have is uh the downgrade of
a lot of forces in 1972
on this date so
the war started to turn down guys were
coming home we got tired of it the peace
talks were
not going very well and
within a year or so the whole thing was
over for us
but it’s never over for us so
let’s go to uh the photos
hello from jeffrey buckley fishing near
cameron bay
in 1969 very nice i like your hook and
your bait
oh my goodness look at this
shooting the fish that’s like shooting
fish in the barrel
okay very good jeff
from jack wells another photo for
consideration from h
battery third battalion 11 marines at lz
late 1969 nicknamed
h battery the horrible hog well what is
that a
looks like a hmm if i would say
correctly a 155
no probably it looks like a 105. well i
can’t tell the difference
but a lot of good-looking marines there
very nice okay too bad we can’t read
that sign
if you can tell us what that sign says
jack uh go into the
uh questions and answer session at the
end of the show
let us know all right next question from
james mcbride
with the second battalion 27th infantry
25th infantry division wolfhounds we
were the first ones into kuchi to build
the base camp
this bucket was his home for a few
months until we leveled the terrain
and built the hooches james i got to
tell you i appreciate those hooches
i got the coochie in uh december 67
and the hooches were great it was good
sharing the time and the base with you
thank you okay next picture is from john
r wagner
on the left is his first sergeant jesus
a cyber survivor of the
bataan death march this is at camp
outside of quinyan 1970.
boy that guy saw some uh interesting
between 1945 and uh
or 44 and 1970. wow
welcome home there john wagner and jesus
okay next picture
roger cross that’s a nice sports car
there roger
got a combat engineer vehicle that’s
we stopped in the middle of an lock for
a little break the 919th engineer
company 11th armored cav in three court
uh yeah i enjoyed that we uh
we served with uh the 11th armored
cavalry regiment up there in uh the
michelin plantation
north of kuchi northwest of kuchi
towards the ocean border
and thank you for your support there
riding on those uh apc’s though when he
hit the tree and the red ants
came down on you that was that was the
worst thing in the war i think
okay thank you roger for that
and that is that that’s the end of the
photo it’s okay let’s bring in our
guests here
jack sturmer from california from the
first air cab
in psychological operations welcome jack
hey ronnie good to see you you too
okay this ought to be a very interesting
show with psychology
all right so tell us a little bit about
introduction into this field and uh
we started out with first opera your
first kind of operation when you got it
okay well very quickly um i wasn’t a
drafty or
a regular enlisted guy i was a reservist
that got called into active duty
back into active duty in 1968 attached
to a national guard unit
that was a armored cavalry unit we were
originally scheduled to go to vietnam as
a total unit that didn’t work out
everybody was sent as an individual
filler i left and
got to vietnam in january of 1969
i was a pfc i had 11 bravo mos
and i was scared shitless um
i’d also been a senior at ucla when i
got called into active duty and my major
was psychology
that will come into play here in a
second in any case um
after i got to vietnam during the in
processing period
um through one of the formations a
lieutenant got up
and he asked if anybody spoke a foreign
i raised my hand he called me to his
office and he said how long have you
spoken french
i said i don’t speak french parlo
italiano i speak italian
and he fell on the floor laughing i
say who speaks french they were looking
for interpreters
to help with the vietnamese that spoke
french yeah so uh we kind of developed a
quick bond and
and uh he said hey listen i got a better
job for you than infantry you can be an
awards clerk
um and so for about three or four weeks
that’s what i did i wrote up the
commendations that
were given out to for various
acts of of heroism or accommodations
but i’d also flown over to vietnam
with about four or five buddies and uh
one of those guys
and i were very close he was assigned to
the first air cab and a few weeks after
i got to vietnam
uh i can’t remember exactly how but he
somehow got in touch with me and said
i’m going to be in benoit in a week or
would you like to go on a psyops mission
with me so i asked my lieutenant he says
yeah you can have a half day off
and i went out to the benoit airfield
jumped on a huey and took a half a day
flying a psyops mission which basically
sprinkling two hoy leaflets all over the
and i absolutely loved it and so when i
got back to
uh my original station i asked
lieutenant i said hey i want to put in a
and uh he said well you’ll never get a
transfer approved i said well i’m going
to put it in anyway he said okay go
ahead and do it
and i did and within two weeks
um a phone call came in to the
lieutenant colonel that ran this
section and he said holy smokes a
colonel from the first cab
wants to see you and they sent down a
loach helicopter
to pick me up at long bend i flew up to
fluke finn where the
cab headquarters were and i met the guy
that was in charge of
what’s called civil affairs and
psychological operations he was a
and uh he originally said hey i got your
but i’d rather that you joined and
worked for me
and i said well i’m sorry sir i don’t
want to work for you i want to go down
and be with my friend in the third
and uh believe it or not he said okay
i’ll accommodate that
and i spent the night there and then
flew in the helicopter back to
to benoit or long been
a couple weeks after that i got the
orders and
the next thing i know i’m uh with the
third brigade
of the first air cab and i’m
participating in the both the chuhoi
missions which were these helicopter
uh flights where we dropped uh
okay okay jimmy yeah before we go any
tell the people what chuahoy means ah
well uh chu hoy has got a couple of
different meanings
um in in simplicity it’s a safe package
are safe safe passage we used to call it
a get out of free jail card
um but it was a term used that would
encourage the vc
and the north vietnamese to surrender
and promise them safe passage or safe
if they did so and it was
one segment of the psyops program which
you know convincing uh charlie to
the other part of the program was
uh chilhoy messages and those were
designed basically to throw the fear of
into charlie and the nva both
their um their existence
trying to demoralize them and then
playing the card about what jody’s doing
with their girlfriend back home
so anything undermined you know they’re
well you know what i’m talking about
yeah yeah yeah so
in any case you know those those were
the two components
of the flights on the helicopter
and then the the other part of the the
operation was called civil affairs
and civil affairs was a um
a program in which medical civil action
patrols called medcaps
for short were deployed to
outlying uh very poor vietnamese
and the local indigenous people called
mutton yards
and these were very primitive
living conditions generally no work
running water
no sewer system i mean we’re going back
a thousand years
is what it was like and so these medical
civil action patrols would be
sent out to effectively do two things
number one
build goodwill between the american
and attempt to establish rapport
so that when charlie or the nba came
into these villages there would be
somebody there that would give a high
sign and let us know what was going on
and so those those were the components
that made up of
the civil affairs and psychological
um at least on the simplest simple
format that’s
how i would describe it well there you
okay excuse me
uh here come your photos can you
describe this one jack
yeah this is just a great picture taken
by one of the first cabs combat
photographers his name is terry moon and
terry has his own website with
um portfolio of photographs that he took
again in 1969 and this one is what it
looks like
you know tossing the leaflets out from
the helicopter
um it’s uh and that that right there is
a picture of me
doing it um and that was taken by a
friend of mine by the name of paul
who also was a combat photographer for
the first air cav and
very sadly i learned a number of years
ago that
when paul got home he ultimately
committed suicide
that was a pretty tough tough bit of
news to
to swallow this is a copy of the chew
hoi leaflet this is what
you know i would toss out of the uh the
and uh and it was a reasonably
successful program
uh when one of the vc
or or nva would surrender they were
hoy chans there was an indoctrination
where they were in shorthand debriefed
um not always was the information that
they shared
um legitimate um
oftentimes they would not tell the truth
about what their role
and responsibility yeah right yeah but
with every unit they
they were from uh sometimes they made up
stories about
um impending attacks uh and things along
those lines and i can go into a little
side story about that
shortly but um they were hoy chance
now on the up flip side of the coin um
charlie had his own psyops
operation and this is a leaflet that
used to be dropped
for our guys to pick up um
i don’t know anybody that took the ten
thousand dollar cash reward but i can
tell you there was many times that it
was tempting
that’s interesting
okay um yeah uh we we have some uh
photos of the there you go we have that
i don’t know what this says but it seems
like it’s a vietnamese
family having a little dinner around and
on the other side
there’s some uh a little bit of uh no
that’s not the one but here we go this
here one shows
uh can you put that one back on that
there you go the other side of that one
good there we go here comes
there’s a viet cong running out of the
fan see that family here having lunch or
dinner whatever it is
and there’s our helicopter flies over
the top you got the guy in the bottom
right hand corner running out with his
black pajamas
and his ak so they were harboring
enemy as uh we go into the village
asking them to surrender or whatever
next picture great here we go this says
if you can’t read it out there it says
american servicemen in vietnam
why do american people struggle fiercely
for ending the aggressive war in south
because the aggressive war waged by the
johnson administration in south vietnam
brings no interest
to the american people but heavy tax
death and sufferings
the vietnamese people are struggling for
peace independence and freedom
they live 10 000 miles away from america
having a grudge and do nothing harmful
for the interests of american people
so respond to the movement of the
american people
refuse to go to the front to avoid
useless death
press for the evacuation of all u.s
troops and military personnel
from south vietnam and your repre
repatriation your families are worrying
about you and waiting for your return
and this is from the south vietnam
liberation front now they had their own
psychology or psychological warfare
with this here leaf with these leaflets
interesting well yes we have the
advantage of helicopters
and so that’s for sure them a lot better
than they
could um yeah but nice to meet you
do you speak any vietnamese or do you
read the vietnamese no like no no no no
no no no no no you did not believe it
hey ronnie just like you i knew enough
with my song to get the point
okay one interesting thing about this
one is
if you can see this matt bring this up
live on the show on the
camera here we go
this looks like a laundry list
okay and the bottom one on the bottom
one says the only thing in english if
you look
says bazooka
so what they were doing they were
the peop the vietnamese people to
surrender arms
or whatever these things were and you’d
get 20 000
p estrus what they were called to
vietnamese money
but see that thing says bazooka on the
bottom that’s crazy
yeah they got a whole laundry list of uh
things you could turn in but i don’t
know what they are
so okay so how many trips did you make
out there in the field jack well we
throw these uh leaflets um four or five
days a week
uh just depending upon what was
anticipated where charlie might be the
the buildup of the nva army that was
coming in
i was there in 1969 and um
you know obviously 68 was a horrendous
over there the the buildup in cambodian
was pretty extensive and so
you know our flights were generally not
over um villages they were over the
jungle areas
and so we’d have a court coordinate
coordinates that
would be uh targeted uh in anticipation
of that where
you know charlie was building his
sources um
also towards the the latter part um of
my time there you know we would we’d be
very very close to the cambodian border
um we may have even crossed over to drop
but again this is you know what was
happening is that we were starting to
make excursions into cambodia
at that time and that’s where the major
buildup was for the north vietnamese so
there was
lots and lots of action in that
quadrant called the parrots peak
so that’s you know i’d go out quite
often uh
like i said four or five maybe more
times a week
um and several times a week
it appears we’d go on these mid cap
missions again depending upon where our
base camp was
and um how safe it might be to get out
to a remote village right
how was any um statistics to show
how many people surrendered to the true
hoy program
i’ve not come across any of those
statistics but i will tell you a story
just in terms of what happens when you
get access to the internet after all
these years
i was able to get access to a recently
after action report that was prepared
um after the um what’s called the battle
um ben long
and that that occurred on august 12th
in that after action report there is a
an addendum that talks about the number
of viet cong that surrendered
within um three or four weeks
of that attack on august 12th
again they’re called hoi chan’s and so
there’s a list of
about five or six of them um in this
after action report
with us a couple of sentences about the
information that they provided
again kind of going back that there’s
oftentimes there was a lot of suspicion
about the credibility of what these
folks have yeah absolutely yeah right
and it’s pointed out within this report
that several of them were talking about
a major buildup of the ninth
of dc or nva excuse me division
um with an anticipated attack upon
this area called around onlock and also
where i was stationed at quan loy
uh to be somewhere between the 5th and
the 7th of august
the attack didn’t occur to the 12th so
you know the 5th to the 7th everybody’s
geared up
boom you think something’s going to
happen the 8th 9th nothing happens the
10th 11th nothing happens is that your
guard down
right there you go boom and it was
it was very very nasty that was the most
uh combat that i saw uh in my time over
um it was enough to last me for a
but again getting back to the success of
the program
um let me just kind of take a sidebar
here for a second
ronnie you know i’ve always been
i guess surprised over the years that i
was able to pull off this request
for a transfer but you know i just
figured i was good luck well point of
i did some research and i came across
what’s called a um
debriefing report these are prepared by
every outgoing
commanding general of a division and
right about this time that i put my
request in
the outgoing commanding general the
first cab
prepared a debriefing report and in that
he highlights the following
psychological operations needs
doctrinal and technical improvement
if we are ever to put real talent into
program then we need to train and
develop our psy warriors
that particular debriefing report was
simultaneously with my request for a
in which i highlighted the fact that i
was a
senior at ucla majoring in psychology
and i
filtered in a whole bunch of other
[ __ ] that would
make me like something more than a spec
right i’m assuming that that
uh transfer request and that debriefing
landed on this colonel’s desk at the
same time
because what colonel is sending a loach
down to long bend to pick up a spec 4 to
come up for an interview
that may be connecting the dog crazy but
to me that’s the only reason this whole
thing happened
there you go how many leaflets do you
think you brought you threw out the
window there
all right oh did you hear me how many
liters do you think
oh my gosh wow
man that’s crazy
all right we’ve got a few stories here a
lot of them
tell let’s see let’s tell me about some
lady you met on an airplane was that
going or coming to be and i was going to
vietnam right
yeah going to vietnam i met a pretty
stewardess what happened is i think i
mentioned that i was
lucky to to be on that flight with four
or five guys i knew
i was the last one to enter the flight
of the five of us
and they had saved me a seat on the
aisle across from the galley
um and that’s where the stewardesses
prepared the meals and so forth on these
flights and so
i started up a conversation with this
one pretty girl
i asked her for her um address so i
could write her a letter she said okay
i wrote her a letter she wrote me back
and we got married 18 months
after i got hurt
oh my goodness you fulfill the dream of
every gm you’ve got an
airplane you know
listen you tell you talk about being
king of the mountain i got one more
story about being the king of the
oh my gosh oh i’m i’m out in quan loi
and um and kathy
my wife she had made a trip from tokyo
to um benoit um
delivering more soldiers a troop
and she was waiting for the return
and there was some mechanical problems
with the plane so it was delayed for
about 45 minutes or an hour
so kathy finds herself in a hooch
and says well i’m going to try to give
jack sturmer a call
and so she’s on the phone she’s getting
people to help her to try to because she
knew my address and so forth where i was
a series of calls were made trying to
down to the third brigade the first cab
where i was stationed
and she was successful to get to my
company commander’s
office um my company’s office
but i wasn’t there but when i came back
from the mission i was on i was the
king of that camp because some
had been trying to get a hold of me
you know i mean that just didn’t happen
so there you go
all right remember number two
number two best story i’m gonna listen
now is about
what happened with joe namath yes well
um you know the new york jets won the
super bowl
in uh january on january 12th of 1969
um kathy happened and a couple of weeks
after that
uh joe was on a uso tour you know
visiting troops and he was in tokyo
at camp zama there’s a hospital there
that was treating a lot of the wounded
guys from from vietnam
coincidentally kathy was also in
tokyo at that time and when she had
layovers oftentimes she would go to the
to the hospital to visit those troops
help cheer him up and so forth and
coincidentally she happened to be there
at the same time
joe namath was there so she got her
picture taken with joan namath and she
became a good
star family you know because of that
but but i like to say joe you won the
super bowl but you don’t win them all
yes well it’s okay you beat him on that
yeah my goodness is there anything else
you want to talk about
well i think yeah after career pardon me
after career or during your late late
what happened when you got back to the
oh gosh well when i got back to the
states you know
i went back to school and i graduated
and kathy and i got married and i went
off on my career
i’m a fortunate man i’ve got two
beautiful daughters and
four great grand kids my grandson
is a united states marine and so i’m
real proud about
that um and you know i had a career that
was in
um partly in real estate finance for a
while and then
ended up in um kind of an offshoot of
the electric utility industry in
uh development of renewable energy farms
um did you serve any time back in the
states when you got back
no when i got out when you got this job
tom i was discharged
oh really yeah okay that’s interesting
because not many people
that didn’t happen to many people a lot
of them came back to serve somewhere for
some time you know
in in 1969 is when the um
they just started um
reducing the force and so there was a
lot of guys that
uh if they had served a certain amount
of time
and their time was up to get out of
they were just completely discharged
okay 69 was a good year
for getting out early okay what are you
doing now
well you know i retired 11 years ago but
recently like so many different veterans
i have a va loan
and i went through a refinance to get
the um
the lower interest rate to call the
streamline program and in the course of
that i got acquainted with the president
of the company that made the loan
and because i had this idea about trying
to give back to the veteran community
and so i pitched this notion that
this company should have a veterans
advocate because they specialize in
making va loans
and he thought it was a great idea so
just recently
i joined the companies called simplify
home loans
my job is the veteran advocate i’m not
engaged in
originating loans or discussing anything
about the loans my whole role is to help
and veteran family members kind of deal
with getting them
the maximum benefits that they’ve that
they’ve earned
and to help them with traversing the the
va system if they need to file a
disability claim or appeal a denial
or seek any other kinds of benefits um
that’s that’s what i want to help with
and so any time any error any war
anybody who’s a vet anybody just have to
be a veteran and
it’s great okay that’s good to know
there’s a lot of things out there
there’s discounts that are available
that people don’t know about
there’s all kinds of websites that have
uh a
stream of information and let me just
finish for a second ronnie i got a lot
of knowledge
um about how to deal with the va because
my father-in-law cathy’s dad
was a pow in world war ii and um
he was also recipient of the purple
and at the end of his toward the end of
his life
he became blind um and
he was adverse to making any claims to
the va
it’s just that generation that greatest
but he needed help and i took it upon
myself to get him that help from the va
ultimately getting him 100 percent
disability rating with all kinds of
other special features that made the
few years of his life much more
all right it wasn’t an easy task but and
i learned an awful lot
doing that it also helped me in my
claims with the va
so i’ve kind of in an old school
college hard knocks kind of fashion
learned an awful lot about what’s out
there and i
i want to share it so i’m with this
my role again is a veterans advocate um
and you know i reach out and offer the
the assistance that i’ve learned
just as a free service no strings
nobody has to be a customer it’s just
there it’s the
okay it’s the company and my commitment
to the veterans community
so thank you for your opportunity no
problem at all all right we got well
here we go we have any questions and
questions for
jack matthew
let’s find out let’s see what’s going on
here here you go
what was the song on this day by the
are you asking me that oh we gotta get
out we gotta get out of this place right
oh there you go right
i guess it was i don’t know it cracked
me up see that i don’t know but
i sly in the family stone on this date
was um was it
a family affair it’s a family affair
come on you know that one all right next
we got another question over here
oh good there you go shane rabbit now
says thank jack thank you for your
service great pictures
what was your fondest memory of vietnam
coming home catching that
catching that fight i’ll never forget
twa land at benoit
and i had a smile that wouldn’t go away
all right
the next question
god bless well marie says marie kenner
says god bless you for helping the
veterans with the difficulty of the
foxholes and the loopholes of the va
there you go nice very nice marie thank
okay next
i think that might be it all right
well thank you very much jack
ronnie my pleasure one way or the other
we’ll be in touch
yeah good man have a good evening happy
holidays guys
god bless you man appreciate it bye
okay any more comments matt
or uh questions no nope
well thank you very much for watching
tonight see you next week same time same
veterans live show don’t forget your
veterans guys
stay touched stay in touch with your
brothers uh wherever you can
the american legion vfw vva
whatever you could do attend uh parades
christmas parties
hanukkah parties whatever the vets are
putting together for you at the local
places you’ll feel a lot more at home
and a little more at ease
thank you for the brotherhood you have
never forget the guys that never came
thank you for watching and welcome home