Sword Swallower's Hall of Fame

Many Konda-Dora speak Telugu as well as or instead of their native language. Belli, Remo Founded the legendary drum manufacturer Remo Inc. Doherty, Denny One-quarter of the s folk-rock group the Mamas and the Papas Could this have been sword swallower Lawson Peck? Maranda Richmond sips a cup of water and takes a seat in the newsroom's studio. Artist's illustrations graced "The Shadow" and other sci-fi and mystery publications They did agree in July to meet and talk generally about sexual assault investigations.

Charles H. Lewis

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I mean what tough guy wouldn't be scared when exchanging rounds that close. If you weren't afraid of getting killed, you must have been on something. I saw the death cards used once during my tour of duty. We were patrolling through an area that another sister company had worked.

We found a few of the death cards strategically placed on the bodies of some dead North Vietnamese Army troops. I don't think it scared them at all. In fact, I believe their buddies thought we did it and for about two weeks we had a running gun battle with the sons of bitches! I didn't mind fighting them, but I just couldn't see any sense in stirring them up! She told me that many of the soldiers coming into the center appeared to have some form of PTSD.

She believed they were being treated locally in an Army medical center. One sat down next to her and she expected a pleasant talk about home and what it was like to be in Vietnam.

Instead, he pulled out a handful of photographs to show her. He laid the pictures down in front of me one by one. The first showed a dead Vietnamese with an Ace of Spades stuck in his mouth.

I was completely unprepared to see this. He continued laying them down, one next to another. The next showed a group of dead Vietnamese with the Ace of Spades stuck in their mouths. He seemed to have the pictures in some sort of order of brutality. He offered to let me pick and keep one picture but I declined. I would have broken up his collection. Then he handed me a sewn patch depicting an Ace of Spades that I did accept. It was not even noon yet and I was a complete wreck.

I went into the office and found my partner Mary going through some donated books, and asked her if she had heard that there were special psychologists in Nha Trang that worked with guys who were disturbed.

I suspect that Katherine Keane was just dealing with regular soldiers back from the field suffering from some degree of PTSD. However, she might have been correct in thinking there was a psychiatric center nearby. They operated the only inpatient psychiatric facility in I and II Corps the two most northern tactical zones in Vietnam.

Besides dealing with mental health issues on an outpatient basis, they had a 12 bed in-patient facility staffed by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and five social work specialists. They could keep an in-patient for 30 days; at the end of that time they had to return the patient to duty, reassign him in-country, or medically evacuate him back to the United States for further treatment. There are many types of the ace of spades death cards.

It is important to note that very few of those you see offered for sale are genuine. In fact, no death card should be considered genuine unless the source is impeccable and there is an unimpeachable history of it being personally brought back from Vietnam. Fakes and forgeries abound. This card coded was printed by the U.

The skull on the front is a bit odd and perhaps more Asian than American. The back is all text with a green Chieu Hoi symbol in the background. What I find most strange about this item was that the official U. I suspect an informal off-the-cuff request from some supported combat unit that wanted them and the PSYOP Battalion prepared them just as a courtesy. The text on the back is: No place is safe for you. You have no place to hide. Your only option is to return to the just nationalist cause by rallying in order to stay alive.

Unfortunately it is dated 1 July and the highest leaflet it mentions is Assuming that about leaflets were prepared each month, the Death Card should have been printed about September of The top line reads: These seem to be the most prevalent type of death cards, one might almost say "the standard" death card.

I have seen about three variations with slightly different fronts but always the same message on the back. In addition, the same skull inside the spade is depicted on a commemorative death card distributed by Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, at the Americal Division Reunion in Reno Nevada, June I would have assumed that this card was privately made; perhaps ordered from an American printer.

Voke, S2 Intelligence officer from told me: The only type of death card I saw was the one with the skull and crossbones inside the spade on one side, and the crosshatched design and message on the other.

I only recall us printing them for Special Forces, usually in the IV Corps area, but I did not usually get involved in what our printing plant did for our companies or other units and agencies. In December , these cards were being reproduced and sold by a Florida dealer in sets of Do not buy a death card unless it comes with a pedigree from a bona-fide veteran who personally brought it back.

My reproductions are as close to the originals as possible and by far surpasses any others offered. Printed on Card Stock. In no way shape or form am I trying to mislead anyone. My cards are bought primarily by other Vietnam vets and they are thrilled that I offer them.

I would like to tell you one story from a customer who wanted cards as she and her husband wanted to give them to all Vietnam Veterans at the Vietnam Wall in D.

Well because of her cause I basically donated the cards to them. I wish you could read the appreciation letter they sent to me after they went to DC telling me the thanks the veterans gave to them with tears.

I have also had many army organizations acquire my cards to give out at their reunions. I truly feel that you should warn your people about dealers who are claiming they are selling originals rather than myself who is being completely honest. Contrary to your statement I feel I am offering something that people want. I have over articles on the Internet and I check eBay every day. Whenever I see a reproduction offered, whether it is stamps, banknotes, leaflets or whatever, I always print a warning.

You tell your buyer that an item is not genuine, but there is no guarantee that he will tell the next buyer. As a result, I think it is responsible to warn buyers to know what they are buying. Note that although it seems identical at first glance, the spades at the corner are boxed, and the text at the back is shorter in length than in the more common versions. It has the same ace of spades card with skull and crossbones and below it are 4 lines of shaded verse.

This card is similar except that there is no central large ace of spades and the skull is accompanied by a scythe. In this variation Death is now inside a large black spade and the Letter "A" is now made up of bones.

The message on the back is identical on all three cards. PSYOP was called in to help with the defense of the unit and they dropped a leaflet depicting an ace of spades on the front with the text:. NVA should never come back here again because they will die.

The leaflet may have worked because there was no immediate attack. Marine Lance-Corporal Jerry Sitek was given this card as a member of Delta when he was on hill 41 about October It was not given as a death card to be placed on bodies, more of a souvenir and a symbol of his membership in the unit. He sent it home at the first opportunity because he did not want to lose it or have it destroyed.

I have seen about four different items from the 1st Marine Reconnaissance Battalion. This card was sent home by First Lieutenant Charles W. This death card is from the 2nd Battalion of the 34th Armor Regiment the Dreadnaughts , one of the two armor units in the 25th Infantry Division. The Battalion fought with the 25th from 1 August until reassigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Ft.

Carson on 15 December One soldier remarked that he was issued a deck of cards upon entering the company. A printed page described the origin of this card in some depth. It said in part: Captain Kimmerling explained that the Vietnamese were a superstitious people, and to them the Ace of Spades was a symbol of death.

The back of the card depicts an Iraqi eagle and sword over a parachute indicating Airborne. Schofield sells the cards online and says that he send cards and a portion of the proceeds to the Iraqi Special Forces. Another variation depicts the scythe with blood dripping from it. I have mostly seen these as sewn patches, so it is possible that they were not prepared in the form of death cards.

One card does not threaten death as much as it offers life. This card depicts the symbol of the Chieu Hoi Open Arms organization and is a reminder to the Viet Cong that they can live by simply rallying to the Government of South Vietnam. Many other death cards exist. Whether they are genuine or not is anyone's guess. For instance, one depicts a skull and bone fingers holding scythe with the text, " ABN pathfinders" and "Hue Phu Bai.

Another card depicts a winged skull and the words "Death From Above. A member of the unit told me that:. The calling card was placed on the chest or tucked, slightly, in the shirt pocket. But as I said before we did not use it except to say "We were here. It was an Article 15 offense to say either. The other companies had their own nicknames as did all the companies in the 1st Air Cavalry Division.

Although Mozey has been credited with designing the cards, it appears that he had them printed in the United States. One complete deck was found in an old foot locker and the cards turn out to have been printed by: Text on the actual deck adds the following information: There seems to be no record of them producing Death Cards, so perhaps because of the political situation in the United States the company chose to keep their participation in the production of these cards quiet.

The clerk calls out my name. Airborne, Air Assault, Air Mobile. I tell him I think there has been a mistake. He assigns me to A Company. He remembers that some unit members were court-martialed while using the cards.

I was told that the men were carving a Cavalry patch on a dead Viet Cong's chest and stuck the playing card in his mouth. There was a soldier from an engineer outfit there and he took some pictures.

He sent them back to his father who apparently was not amused. An investigation followed and then a trial of a First Lieutenant and a buck Sergeant. I think the trial was held in St. Louis and both men were sent to Ft. It seems to me that the two men were tried for abusing the body of the dead Viet Cong rather than the use of the death cards.

Such charges have occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems perfectly acceptable to shoot a terrorist a dozen times or hack him to death with a bayonet, but abuse the body in any way afterwards and it is a criminal act. After years of looking at death cards I suspect that nobody ever made as many as the st Airborne. One side depicts the screaming eagle, a combat infantry badge and airborne wings. The other side depicts a bright red heart and the text: There are skulls and crossed bones at the four sides, and the second message is in both English and Vietnamese and probably is in regard to the North Vietnamese Army having a home hundreds of miles north.

It seems a lot of units liked the old slogan from the television show Paladin. This card is again from the st Division, in this case, A Troop of the 2nd Squadron of the 17th Cavalry.

The back depicts a parachute and a badge not too dissimilar from a Combat Infantry Badge. The owner was told that these cards were ordered in blocks of 10, B Troop also had a Death card. The image on their website is rather small but we want to show as many different cards as we can find so I have added it.

Courtesy of the the William Murray photo collection. The design was used as a pocket patch on uniforms and as a death card on the battlefield. I did not hear the term "death card" until many years later. I have read and spoke to others that state they used the term death card as early as I won't argue with them. Many recon NCOs were levied from the st and I was in contact with those friends that went to the rd and st in country and I recall them saying kill card.

There were other types of death cards that did not bear the ace of spades. For instance, one card depicts a skull wearing a Vietnamese farmer's hat with cross-hairs over the face and the words Sat Cong "Kill Communists". I have seen this same saying tattooed on the body of South Vietnamese commandos. Another card appears to be a SOG product. It depicts a rifleman taking aim at a Viet Cong Guerrilla. There are numerous such fake cards sold on the Internet but this one would seem to be genuine.

It is depicted in John L. The author says about this particular image: An even cruder card depicts a winged skull with an open parachute behind. Text is all Vietnamese, and at the bottom left is the crest of the th Infantry Airmobile and at the lower right the crest of the st Airborne Screaming Eagles Division.

The text on the card is not actually a sentence, but rather a group of Vietnamese words. We can partially date this card because some of the three battalions of the th Infantry were in Vietnam from October to December This is really not a death card in the true sense of the term, but it is very close. These were very well trained soldiers, not unlike American Special Forces.

The leaflet depicts two skulls on the front and a vulture over a skeleton on the back. The text on the front is: Your camp has been discovered: You are no longer safe. Fill out the spaces on the back of this notice and keep it with you. When we find your body we will use it to give you a proper burial. The Australians know that the Vietnamese believe that if they die and are buried in an unmarked grave away from their home village their restless ghost will walk the Earth forever. They are offering to return the body to give the ghost everlasting peace.

Notice that if the enemy soldier was captured and refused to talk, this leaflet when filled out would give all the pertinent information any Intelligence S2 Section could want. It serves three purposes. It demoralizes the soldier telling him that he is about to die, it reminds him of eternal damnation if not given a proper burial, and it could be an intelligence goldmine.

Because the idea of a death card is so popular and collectable, many hustlers have produced their own fakes cards and leaflets and sell them regularly on various auction sites. The above fake pretends to be a Viet Cong leaflet that depicts an ace of spade death card and offers a reward for American soldiers.

Of course, it never was within 10, miles of Vietnam and is a complete fabrication. I normally give the text here but this leaflet is so bad that many parts of it are almost impossible to translate.

The leaflet does not have correct Vietnamese tone marks. It is clearly written by someone who does not know Vietnamese. I think that the author simply took some Vietnamese phrases, some of which he knew, or guessed, the meaning of and some of which he had no idea what they meant, and threw them together helter-skelter.

They are an Enemy with whom we cannot live under the same sky Live under the same sky. Some units that did not design death cards apparently used unit patches to mark the Viet Cong they killed. The patches were left on members of the nd and th North Vietnamese Army Regiments. He pointed out that the subdued patches were free in the supply room and his platoon sergeant liked to advertise.

Another soldier said that his unit did not use death cards but some misguided individuals left unit patches sometimes on the dead. On one occasion he was ordered to retrieve one because it was considered an embarrassment to his unit.

This strange pocket patch depicting a death's head inside the letter "D" can be bought in Ho Chi Minh City today. It is similar to some official military pocket patches and it has been offered as a Project Delta patch.

It has also been offered as a death card patch. I suspect it is a fantasy produced by current Vietnamese entrepreneurs, but I could be wrong. I add it simply to show the reader's the kind of items can be found on the market today. In August , a patch specialist wrote and told me:. By the way, that is a reproduction of the patch and not genuine. God bless those Vietnamese; they are creative. We should take a moment to differentiate between death cards and calling cards.

The death card is easy to identify. It usually is black or features black vignettes, shows an ace of spades, or makes some threat of death to the Viet Cong. In the words of one ex-Cavalryman:. It was the Best of the Best that used the cards.

The guys that wanted Charlie to be really sure who it was that killed him. The whole idea was to scare the crap out of Charlie. Calling cards are quite different. The military has a long tradition of using calling cards for social introductions. As a sergeant major assigned to a new unit one of my first tasks was to visit the home of the commanding officer and leave a calling card in a silver tray.

It was understood that was the way one properly introduced himself. Like all military traditions, there is even a prescribed military way in which the card is used: Calling cards are a courtesy you extend to your hosts.

They are desired by most military hosts and hostesses for a reference file of past friends and acquaintances in the service. Proper custom dictates that you leave one card for each adult member of the household, including guests, but never leave more than three of any one card.

Cards should be left in a tray near the door either upon arrival or departure. When making a call and the person on whom you are calling is not home, leave the card with someone who is present or slip it under the door. Calling cards were not used for a time, but the tradition of using them is returning and they are being used more and more today. Calling cards were also popular among warriors and combat units. They tended to be long on exaggeration and braggadocio.

It was the old Davy Crockett "Killed him a bar when he was only three" syndrome. Tough guys talk tough. Many of the cards we will show during the rest of this article are really calling cards. They mention death and destruction, but in general they were not meant to be left on a body. However, if the body count was high and you just happened to be standing there So, enjoy the rest of the cards. They were produced by men and units who were proud of their fighting ability and willing to tell the world about it.

Let's just say that these cards were multi-purpose. American helicopters provided air transportation, liaison, medical evacuation, and close fire support. The rd took part in 14 campaigns. Whatever their use, they are the only known type of calling card prepared on an enemy banknote during the Vietnam War.

Jury was a specialist 5 SP5 sent to Vietnam in July As an army photographer he was able to document much of the war. He illustrates a photograph of two army medics carrying a Viet Cong guerrilla on a stretcher.

Two orderlies carried the wounded VC off the medevac [Medical evacuation helicopter] and disappeared inside the hospital. A few minutes later one of the orderlies came out and handed me a calling card. We get them all the time. They've been kicking some ass. The card is depicted below the photograph. It depicts a skull and crossed bones within an ace of spades. Those who kill for pleasure are sadists. Those who kill for money are professionals.

Those who kill for both are Gunslingers. The third card depicts a winged griffon holding the insignia of the st Airborne Division in one hand and a lightning bolt in the other. One battlefield report states, Death on call Cobras from C Btry, 4th Bn ARA , 77th Arty in one of the largest battlefield actions in recent months killed 60 North Vietnamese Army soldiers and destroyed one mortar position, resulting in six secondary explosions, 20 miles west of Quang Tri.

The above card depicts an inverted ace of spades on the front with the word "Kingsmen" in gold. The back is all text:. Death and Destruction Hrs. Riley Kansas and part of the First Aviation Brigade. They were attached to the st Airborne after the Tet uprising in When the st became an Airmobile Division the company was infused into the Division and redesignated B Company, st Aviation Brigade.

The unit insignia on the tail boom was a white diamond, this diamond was the border of their uniform patch with a black spade centered in the diamond. Other calling cards abound. It seems that they fascinated fixed-wing and helicopter pilots. One such card depicts a black chess knight and the text: Spooky was the call sign of the AC gunship.

Here is another gunship calling card. This one was sent by Terry Sarul who flew missions from , and was a Staff Sergeant when he was discharged in Terry was a Gunner, officially: Airborne Weapons Mechanic credited with missions.

The 18th flew out of Vietnam and Thailand and offers to attack and suppress mortars, trucks, and sampans and protect Allied bases, outposts and troops in trouble. The K replaced the earlier G, call-sign Shadow. The Air Force added two 20 mm Vulcan cannons to the four 7. The gunships often hunted along the Ho Chi Minh Trail searching for and shooting up trucks, or any targets of opportunity.

The card is plain text in Vietnamese and English:. The cobras often covered the scout helicopters in the area of operation orbiting around them until the scouts radioed that they were taking fire. The cobras then attacked with mini-guns and rockets. This calling card from the K. Watson of the th Attack Helicopter Squadron depicts a mad dog on the front armed with rockets.

Watson was the gunship pilot of what I think we called a pink team. The action was west of Xuan Loc in March of A pink team was a little bird to get down low and a cobra to stand off and render unto the enemy that day's ration of 2. It was quite an afternoon for me. I was working the artillery and the gunship at the same time, while SGT Allen handled the firefight.

The arty was keeping the enemy from fading into the bush. They first tried their usual hugging tactic, but SGT Allen's patrol was able to throw them back. I got the cobra pilot to come well inside danger close, because we needed it.

We were able to get some cover in the year-old French fighting holes SGT Allen's patrol had stumbled upon about the same time they ran into a platoon or so of NVA. When firing flechettes, there's a puff of red smoke as the round leaves the launcher to warn folks on the ground of the nailing they are about to receive, like it or not.

There was an awful lot of noise: This calling card belonged to an Air Force veteran who served with the 20th Helicopter Squadron in Vietnam. This place really sucks. The back of the cards was blank, but eventually most of the individual companies had their own versions printed with their information on the back.

Text in the center in Vietnamese and English is:. Dale Joritz of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade of the nd Regiment told me that he got to Vietnam in June and the cards were in use at that time. The 2d Brigade deployed to the Republic of Vietnam December They participated in twelve campaigns over the next five years.

The Brigade returned to Fort Campbell in April According to the story, the rumor led to a Congressional investigation regarding the use of the tomahawks, but there was no evidence of them ever being used. Mike Yancey of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, September heard the story and had this to say: Why make an opening when there are already plenty. The press somehow got hold of the wrong idea that we were desecrating bodies with our hatchets.

The next thing you know, some magazine came out with a huge article about The Hatchet Battalion of Vietnam. Orders came down for all the hatchets to be turned in, and for the most part they were. A few however, made it home to the states. These were not war tomahawks; they were very much like the old Boy Scout hatchet. That was in late He threatened anyone who was caught with one of the hatchets with a Court Martial.

I heard that North Vietnam put a bounty of the st Airborne Division. Needless to say, our death card, and how it was used and placed, was part of how we reacted towards them. This card was handed to a 1st Cavalry soldier carried into battle by air assault helicopters of Charlie Company, th Aviation Battalion in Some air assault soldiers did as many as or more helicopter assaults during their tour of duty in Vietnam.

He bragged that he saw himself on film and he had bounced almost a dozen times. Rangers walk to the battle. He eventually was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in He also painted the design as a mural on the Bravo Company barracks. Dave was a graduate of the Art Institute of Houston. He sold the cards three for a dollar or 50 cents each to the members of the battalion while they were waiting in the mess hall line at our dining facility.

He had five hundred cards printed. When I made the death card you have on your site, I basically Xeroxed an ace of spades and enlarged it. I was working with about an 8 x 10 copy of the ace of spades. I then copied pictures of different badges right out of army manuals and drew pictures of everything else I needed.

I then arranged all the photos and used rubber cement to stick them to the paper. The grim reaper in the center of the spade was inspired from the Ryder Tarot Deck "Death" card. I traced it out then drew the horses back end to complete it. Then when I had everything the way I wanted, I reduced it down to the playing card size. I then took the finished cards to a printer in Tacoma. The Ranger Regiment adopted that type of scroll about These Old Scrolls were worn during the invasion of Grenada in So I used the Old 2nd Battalion Scroll for my card because we all liked it more.

My platoon sergeant showed me some wings in his possession and told me they were the new wings. I drew them and placed them on the death card. Later, I found out that the ones he showed me were from a South American country I can't remember which one and he thought it was funny that he had tricked me. No one in battalion seemed to care.

They told us that in the Buddhist religion if you place a symbol or marker on a dead body they won't touch it. So, many American soldiers wore playing cards on their helmets so if they were killed the enemy would leave their bodies alone. Later the soldiers would place death cards upon the bodies of enemies they killed to scare them, and let them know who was responsible.

Baker saw them he ordered that they were not to be carried or used by any members, on pain of court-martial and expulsion from the unit. As a result, the cards were never used in combat. The front of the card depicts an American eagle and symbols of Nationalist China and the United States.

You can see growth from his first to third card in The image here is similar to the old st Airborne Division skull and wings, and the back is all text. On interesting artistic aspect is the Ranger tab that has broken through the barbed wire.

Dave Rosini also created a card in This card was printed on the front only and featured the death card from the Rider Tarot Deck. The original card pictured the rider and the front part of the horse. Dave added the back of the horse and the text:. Here is the actual tarot card that Dave used as inspiration. Notice that there is no back end on the horse. Later on, Dave painted the same scene in full color on the wall of the Bravo Company barracks. The Death card also appears in the 2nd Ranger Battalion Yearbook on After our initial discussions Dave told me that he had talked to other Rangers and some of them still had their old death cards.

The first we show is a classic card with the Ace of Spades on a yellow card on one side, and on the back:. The creeping death card was actually used by only the 1st platoon of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion 75th Rangers. The platoons name was Creeping Death and it was given difficult missions due to their amazing ability to be successful in any situation.

The Platoon was sometimes given a mission even when other companies were on rotation. Bravo and Charlie Company would pull 1st platoon for missions making them one of the most deployed platoons in the battalion. The card along with the original platoon are immortalized in the main lobby of the Alpha Company headquarters at Hunter Army Airfield with the card being next to an original picture of the platoon.

This card is very similar to some of the st Airborne Division cards that we have seen. It is only printed on the Front and depicts a skull, crossed knives and wings.

This 2nd Battalion card simply shows the Ranger tab on the front. The back has the quote from Genghis Khan made famous in Conan the Barbarian when it was paraphrased and made shorter and more concise. The full quote is seen on the card:. The Greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemy, to chase him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to rob him of his wealth and see those dear to him bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom his wives and daughters.

This card is more in the form of a calling card. It doesn't mention a name or unit but is a general introduction to the Ranger creed and their fighting abilities. This 2nd Battalion card goes back to the Ranger operations in Grenada.

The text is in English so it was clearly aimed at the black government troops and not the Cubans on the island. Copies of the card were later found in the Ranger Headquarters. Here is propaganda used on the Rangers, something a bit different. Although not a Death Card, this card was issued to members of the American Army Rangers during a war game as part of their psychological warfare training. The card depicts "Death" standing behind an American soldier.

The Rangers went to Georgia in to stage for Panama. We were not deployed at that time. The Battalion did go as part of the invasion force in My unit had just been to Panama in and we had gone to the Ft. I missed the Panama Invasion by 1 month. I had gotten married and transferred out of the Rangers and went to the 9th Infantry Division at Ft. What I found even more interesting was the propaganda campaign that came with the card. Ranger Dave Rosini told me:.

They employed loud speakers for days that played the sound of a crying baby. It was really annoying. Stewart, Georgia in Then one day as the crying was being broadcast there was a loud gunshot and the baby stopped crying. It was really weird. According to this story, when the military wanted to clear an area of enemy troops they would air drop death cards.

Allegedly after the cards were dropped the Air Force would bomb the location. The Viet Cong began to associate the finding of the death card with bombing and destruction.

Eventually, when the death cards were dropped over an area and the Viet Cong would vacate the area in the anticipation of the impending bombing. Friendly troops could then enter and occupy the area without firing a shot. These were very tough fellows who went deep into enemy territory to identify units and select targets. One calling card from such a unit says: The president of the playing card company asked some of the men who used them:.

When we would clear villages, we would leave them to show that we had been there. We left them on dead bodies and our guys wore them on their helmets. Mostly, they were just pleased that this company all the way back in Cincinnati was making the effort to send them all these containers of Aces of Spades.

It was a kind of unifying factor for members of the Army. So, as we said at the start of this article, the cards were not for the enemy. They were for the morale and motivation of the U. We should also mention that the Communist death squads had their own calling cards. This death notice, which Viet Cong agents left on the body of assassinated hamlet chief Danh Hanh, accuses him of having been a lackey for the American-Diem clique.

Hanh was judged to have "carried out treacherous activities against our country and incurred the deep hatred of the people of the hamlet. The death cards made an appearance again during Operation Desert Storm. Instead, they were made up as calling cards and personal mementos of the units involved in the war. United States Playing Card has been making cards for the military for nearly a century, President White said.

Remember those Vietnam-era images of soldiers tucking the Ace of Spades in their helmets? Playing Card made entire decks of the aces because they were believed to inspire fear among enemy fighters. Similar decks were reissued in Operation Desert Shield, but more as a tradition than as a psy-ops weapon. This is a standard Bicycle ace of spades produced by the company and shipped to the troops about to take part in the Persian Gulf War.

It looks exactly like a standard playing card, except at the lower center they have printed the words "Desert Shield. The operation was changed to Desert Storm when the Coalition went on the offensive.

It seems that The U. Playing Card Company sent boxes of death cards to Saudi Arabia too. In an unopened deck of all Ace of Spades was offered at auction. The caption beneath the photograph of the cards is:. Here is an unopened deck of all Ace of Spades from the U. During the Vietnam War, the U. They were sent free of charge in a box called "Secret Weapon. During Operation Desert Shield, however, Bicycle again produced the decks in new packaging and typeface to distinguish the Vietnam and Desert Shield decks.

The Desert Shield decks are clearly marked "Desert Shield. The box has an ace of spades stamp at the top holding it closed. A former member of the company told me that the cards had been privately made in Louisville, Kentucky. Calling cards had been manufactured by a company of U. On soldier admitted to having 50 such cards, but thought he would need more. We cannot identify the unit but would like to learn more and perhaps see the actual card.

Calling cards were also used during Operation Iraqi freedom. This photograph, featured in Army , August , depicts an American soldier handing out personal calling cards while on patrol. The cards are signed by the soldier and also have an anonymous tip line telephone number. These allows any Iraqi to either phone in information on improvised explosives, or actually come to the base and ask for the American who gave him the card.

There have been just a few reports of death or calling cards used during Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. They are carried by the soldiers and handed out to friends and colleagues the same way that officers might hand out challenge coins. The front of the card depicts an Indian brave over the ace of spades.

The title got a bad reputation in Vietnam where Viet Cong sappers would infiltrate US installations and attack them with explosives. However, Sappers have always been considered among the most dedicated and dangerous specialists of the military commander.

Here is a card that could be placed in Vietnam or Iraq. During this reunion, Waylon sat at a table with members of the old Vietnam unit including Mike Worthington, a three-time Purple Heart recipient.

Both men had been door gunners. Perhaps the most famous calling card in modern times was used by the United States Army Rangers as they attacked a target deep behind the lines in Afghanistan in an operation meant to show the Taliban that the Americans could attack when and where they wanted. Kandahar was the home of the Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.

The raid was a warning that America could strike when and where it chose, even at the center of the Taliban spiritual strength. The American troops carried leaflets featuring a photograph of New York City firemen raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center, with the text "Freedom Endures" in English on one side and Pashto on the other. TPD conducted final planning, underwent several inspections, and participated in detailed rehearsals of actions at the objective.

Inspections included personnel, weapons, ammunition, and combat equipment as well as PSYOP product scripts and mini-disk copies of the scripts in Urdu, Pashto, and Arabic that would be used during the operation. Later, as his platoon left the site on foot he passed a destroyed Afghan truck and left the calling card on the truck as a warning to the Taliban. Pilot Warrant Officer 4 Roger M. He recalls using the above 'Death Cards' in Afghanistan. We were known as the Mustangs Our call sign.

She holds a dead Taliban member in her right hand and a smoking rifle in her left hand. She stands in a field of opium poppies. The reverse depicts another image of lady Death inside a spade along with three skulls. This card does not give enough information to identify the unit. However, it has all the trappings of a military death card.

Artist Scott Lewis recalls that the person requesting the cards had an email address that mentioned the U. Army 82nd Airborne Division, so we assume the card was for that unit.

In July, , artist Scott Lewis wrote to me and added:. This project was a request of troops stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan in I don't know why the card bears the date , but that's what they asked for [Note: Perhaps that was when the unit was initially deployed to Afghanistan]. When I was asked to do this card for the troops I was very excited and of course I designed it for them gratis.

I have always been fascinated with death cards and this project was a real privilege to do. I had a short 5 day break and traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia and got a tattoo of image two on my shin. Another one of our guys got the tattoo on his back. Three others are just waiting to get back to the States to get it tattooed. I think that Lady Death was sort of an unofficial mascot for them. I have seen the image used on several tattoos.

The troops in Kabul printed and distributed them. They requested reproduction permission for the Lady Death character and of course it was granted.

I was asked to provide the artwork for the card design, and it apparently it was well received. We pretty much run counter-narcoterrorism operations over here If you could incorporate an opium poppy in the card that would be perfect.

I am a former Special Operations guy and I know that Lady Death has always had a special place for the guys over here. This will really be a great memento for all the guys that come over here to serve and put their normal lives back in the States on hold for the greater good of our nation. This is going to be one of those great items that you can put in your war chest back home and tell the grand kids about one day!

I'll send some emails to deck makers to see what level detail they can handle. I am really just blown away that we are going to make this happen. I also spoke to the trooper who prepared the cards in Afghanistan. He sent a long message which I have edited:. A variation of the card was initially done yearly, so there are smaller batches floating out there from the earlier years. The first cards were also personalized, given to each guy on the team with their "call sign" on the card as well as the corresponding year that they had been with the team in Afghanistan.

Robert Yeomans

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