174th Assault
Helicopter Company

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U.S. Bounty Leaflet

Below is a leaflet both U.S. troops and the ARVNs distributed in the AO. It described various weapons and the bounties paid for their turn-in. At the time I was there (Jan-Dec 1970), I think the exchange rate was something like 117 piasters (Vietnamese currency) to the dollar. (Photo and caption by Dave Rosenthal)

Webmaster note: While the monitary amount is a bit difficult to read in the graphic, the values are in piasters and are shown as the amount of piasters, followed by a dollar sign, followed by two zeros. The amount in the top-left figure, of a .45 caliber pistol, is twelve hundred piasters and is shown as 1,200$00. Below the graphic I've included an article published in the Pacific Stars and Stripes from 18 July 1969 entitled, "Army Paying Big Rewards To Keep Arms From Enemy."

18 July 1969

Army Paying Big Rewards To Keep Arms From Enemy
By Spec. 5 Bill Gibbons
S&S Staff Correspondent

CHU LAI, Vietnam. The U.S. Army is paying large sums of money to buy back weapons, many of them American made, that have fallen into neutral civilian and Communist hands, according to officers in charge of such programs in the central highlands of Vietnam.

"We are better off paying the price to them than letting the Viet Cong or the NVA give it back to us the hard way," said Lt. Col. David T. Thoreson. The 4th Inf. Div. paid out more than $1,800 in May for loose weapons under the voluntary informant program (VIP), Thoreson said. Meanwhile, the Americal Div. at Chu Lai pays out about $6,700 for weapons each month according to their civic action officer, Lt. Col. Albert J. Dombrowsky Jr. American weapons account for a sizable portion of these payments.

Scattered reports claimed some of the weapons had been issued to Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces (RF and PF). Then the RF/PFs reportedly turned over the weapons to their families and friends, who in turn, sold the weapons back to the U.S. Army.

"Some grenades have come back to us that were apparently issued to RF/PFs. These grenades are identifiable because of distinctive wear marks on parts of the outer casing," Dombrowsky said: "But they could have been dropped during a firefight or mislaid while a patrol was taking a break."

Thoreson also agreed the RF/PFs could be turning in weapons and munitions for money, but not on a large scale.

"There are people getting rich off the voluntary informant program," Thoreson admitted, but most of them, he thought, were "treasure hunters" who searched areas with a heavy volume of American artillery fire. When they found dud rounds they reported the location to American forces and claimed their reward.

One enterprising North Vietnamese soldier, however, built himself a nice nest egg when he surrendered to 4th Div. unit several months ago. He led the Americans back to a large cache of arms and got a 2 million piaster reward (1.5 million of which he reportedly donated to an ARVN widows and orphans fund). This cache was unusual since it consisted almost completely of arms made in Communist countries.

The highest rewards are paid for arms that only Americans and the allies use. A 105mm artillery round, for example, will bring 20,000 piasters, compared to 500 piasters for a mine, booby trap, or grenade. A rifle or machine gun bullet is worth only five piasters. But every item brought in is paid for. As Thoreson said, it's easier than taking it back the hard way.