Many Americans who served in the Vietnam War remember one particular voice crackling out of their radios:
“This is Thu Huong, calling American servicemen in South Vietnam. How are you, GI Joe?”
Thu Huong was better known to GIs as “Hanoi Hannah.” Her real name was Trinh Thi Ngo.
Hers was one of the most recognizable voices broadcasting propaganda in English from North Vietnam during the war. Trinh died Friday in the city once known as Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City.
Thu Huong means “autumn fragrance.” Fall was her favorite season growing up in Hanoi. She chose the name as it was easier for foreigners to pronounce than her real name, Trinh Thi Ngo.
Her job during the war was to demoralize GIs.
“It seems to me most of you are poorly informed about the going of the war, to say nothing about a correct explanation of your presence over here,” she said in a 1967 broadcast. “Nothing is more confused than to be ordered into a war, to die or to be maimed for life, without the faintest idea what’s going on. … Isn’t it clear that the warmakers are gambling with your lives while pocketing huge profits?”
Hanoi Hannah was hated by some US troops in Vietnam. After her death, we asked a virtual community of veterans The World keeps in touch with for their recollections. The question triggered some hostile reactions, a few of which are unrepeatable here.
That hostility was recognized by Robin Williams and the writers of the 1987 movie, “Good Morning, Vietnam,” who described her as the “Wicked Witch of the North” and a “slut.”
“I had a videotape of ‘Good Morning Vietnam,’” Trinh told C-SPAN in 1992, “so I know a little bit about the reaction of the GIs.” She laughed.