Who is Charlie?

They were the Viet Cong, VC, or just Charlie, from Victor Charlie.Between 1954 and 1975, United States service members found themselves fighting Charlie, an enemy who was both everywhere and nowhere.

More than one million of enemy combat soldiers died in the name of communism and nationalism. They killed nearly sixty thousand United States soldiers and close to fifty-five thousand South Vietnamese soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire were killed.

Armed with weapons from the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, they were a formidable force. Using propaganda and violence they attempted to control the people of Vietnam. They were trained as conventional soldiers and as guerrillas. They were the North Vietnamese Army, the NVA, the People’s Army of Vietnam and they were the People’s Liberation Armed Forces of South Vietnam. Collectively the United States often called them the Viet Cong. It was commonly shortened to VC, which in military alphabet code was spoken as Victor Charlie. It was further shortened to just Charlie. American soldiers called them Charlie, they called themselves liberators.

Rarely seen in the West, these original art propaganda pieces show a chilling reality of an enemy strongly motivated to defeat their foe and control the minds of their people. Art for the sake of war is a powerful way to explore the true identity of combatants. Art communicates the worldview of its creator and the power of their commitment to their cause. It is both the symbol and creator of identity; showing the identity of its creator and creating identity for the viewer. Through the art they produced, this exhibit will explore the United States’ enemy during the Vietnam War and the methods they used to mobilize both a conventional and unconventional fighting force.