This article from the Buffalo News interviews a man who printed counterfeit currency for the Vietnam war effort.
Charles J. Zoerb never set foot in Vietnam, but from his printing presses on Okinawa he helped create weapons to expose North Vietnamese infiltrators and help demoralize the enemy.
So, in his case, you could say the pen was mightier than the sword.
And Zoerb was well prepared for his role in the Army’s 15th Psychological Operations printing branch. Before he was drafted, he had worked as a printer at Arcata Graphics in Cheektowaga.
Twenty-two years old at the time, Zoerb had never imagined he would be able to utilize his civilian trade. He was certain that when he was drafted he was destined to serve in the Army infantry in Vietnam.
With a top secret security clearance, he arrived on the Pacific island of Okinawa on Feb. 18, 1966, assigned to a fully furnished print shop that operated nonstop.
Under the guidance of U.S. military brass and South Vietnamese officials, Zoerb and 29 other printers produced counterfeit money and propaganda leaflets.
The fake currency, he said, was the more devious of what rolled off the presses.
“It was scattered from airplanes flying above North Vietnam. When infiltrators headed to South Vietnam with that money, they could be identified because the cash had special markings and serial numbers,” Zoerb explained.
Those caught carrying the fake bills would be arrested and interrogated, he said.
“We printed tens of millions of these bills to also flood and destroy the economy in the north,” he added.
The South Vietnamese officials, Zoerb said, paid the printers a rich compliment when they expressed amazement over the quality of the counterfeit cash.
The counterfeit operation occurred on the midnight shift for security purposes. During the day and evening shifts, printers churned out the propaganda pamphlets.
I am shocked, shocked that the Good Guys would stoop to this criminal behavior... So, have any of these counterfeits turned up in numismatic circles?
I passed this article on to our resident Vietnam expert Howard Daniel, who hadn't seen it yet. He's looking into this. He has some fake notes in his collection and perhaps some of them came from this source.
To read the complete article, see:
Vietnam-era veteran counterfeited, legally, to make life hard for enemy
Wayne Homren, Editor
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