From the office of the U.S. Mission's Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs, Mr Barry Zorthian,
B Evergreen. Public Information Officer (PIO) Saigon
Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO)
To: Brigadier General M Zias. Commander 101st Division
Good day General Zias,
I have been asked to contact you on a matter of some delicacy. As you will know from previous briefings from our office, that it is the objective of the military and civil missions here in Vietnam to begin the process of 'handing back control' to the South Vietnamese Government. General Westmoreland has been very clear that before he leaves operational command later this year that this process will be well on its way to successful completion.
The thrust of this policy has many prongs General. From the purely military and advisory elements that you and your staff supply, to very great effect I may add, to the more esoterical that my department concerns itself with.
My task here is to present a certain aspirational mirage if you will; a wishworld imagery that fully fits our inspirational intentions. This involves many tasks that I won't waste your precious time describing. However, one of my main duties concerns briefing and controlling the media output from an increasingly fractious and belligerent press corps.
To this end, this office receives images taken during US operations in an increasingly difficult attempt to control what media corporations publish both in country, and perhaps more importantly, back home stateside.
I have sent you copies of photos taken during a recent village resettlement conducted by the 1st battalion 501st ABN. While I and indeed this office, commend you on allowing a photo record being taken that could assist in reinforcing a positive image of our mission; I have to call into question an apparent lack of briefing on public relations to your subordinates on the ground.
Don't get me wrong General, we are not talking about another My lai and some of the images are very positive. However; an unedifying picture of an officer 'titty grabbing' a local female is not the enduring image MACV would wish to use as a poster campaign. I have managed to stifle the less flattering photos and prevent their publication; for now. However, I would recommend that the battalion Co is reminded that what we do day to day is shown in homes around the world day after day.
My kindest regards to you Sir.
Byron Evergreen. PIO, Saigon.