Reminiscing with Vietnam Veterans at Archives II

At the National Archives, you never know who will come in to do some research.  A few weeks ago, the Still Pictures and Motion Pictures research rooms hosted about 30 Vietnam Veterans who were interested in researching the records of the Department of Army Special Photography Office– or DASPO for short.  The best part about their visit was that these men were actually the creators of these records!

DASPO was started in 1962 at the request of President Kennedy to have the Army document it’s efforts in the Cold War worldwide, especially the “hot war” in  Vietnam.  The films and photos created were strictly military in content, and they were sent directly to the Pentagon, Department of the Army, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The men of DASPO captured combat action, military movements, and documented how military equipment worked in the field throughout the Vietnam War.  As the US pulled the military out of South Vietnam in 1974, DASPO began to downsize, and eventually became Army Special Operations Pictorial Division (ASOPD).  Today, the pictorial legacy of DASPO is carried on by the 55th Combat Camera Company out of Fort Meade, MD, as this new unit travels to hot spots around the world.

The men who met in the research rooms of the National Archives belong to the DASPO Combat Photographers Association, which meets every few years to honor friends on the Vietnam War Memorial on the National Mall.  Traveling from such far away places as Hawaii, Thailand, and Virginia, they decided this year to look up their records at the National Archives, and we were happy to have them here!

One veteran, Harry Breedlove, immediately saw a photo of himself framed on the wall of the Still Pictures Research Room in College Park.

Original Caption: Republic of Vietnam. Operation "DASPO". SSG Howard G. Breedlove (Charleston, West Virginia), Combat Photographer, DASPO, wades through knee deep water in rice paddies during an infantry sweep through the rice paddies off the main highway leading to Cu Chi from Saigon. 1967. Photographer: SFC Peter P. Ruplenas (NARA Identifier: 6037258)

Harry served in Vietnam after already serving in the Army for 10 years, and filmed for DASPO from 1965-69 and 1970-73.  Part of his legacy to DASPO has included the use of one of his photos of soldiers jumping out of a helicopter in Vietnam being used on a US postage stamp as well as on the Vietnam Veterans National Medal.

Original Caption: A search and destroy mission conducted by an infantry platoon of Troop B, 1st Recon Squadron, 9th Cav. Div. (Airmobile), 3 klometers west of Duc Pho, Quang Ngai Province, Republic of South Vietnam, on April 24, 1967.

The visit by the DASPO veterans was a memorable one, and after looking at the photos they created for the federal government, it is apparent that their bravery allowed them to record just what was happening during the Vietnam War.

7 thoughts on “Reminiscing with Vietnam Veterans at Archives II

  1. I had the opportunities to fly in small choppers to go the delta, visiting civilain medical installations with my american counterparts. One time I went aboard the Hospital ship Repose in Cam Ranh Bay, with my counterpart, Navy Captain Wenger. Is there any chance to locate Dr Wenger? He and I co-signed a few checks each month —back in 1972 or 1973—to selected medical students in need of cash.
    I left this msg unfinished because I just saw the caption of a photo with a chopper discharging 3 infantry men: “…the search and destroy mission conducted by an Infantry platoon West of Duc Pho, QuangNgai Province, Republic of South Korea, on April 24, 1967.” It should be “Republic of South Vietnam.”

  2. Thanks for noticing the the caption; we updated it with the correction.
    If you’re looking to locate records of the Vietnam War, you can take a look at the research page on Military records:
    You can also contact the archivists in the Still Pictures Research Room directly by emailing or filling out the research request form at:

    Good luck with your research!

  3. “Original Caption: A search and destroy mission conducted by an infantry platoon of Troop B, 1st Recon Squadron, 9th Cav. Div. (Airmobile), 3 klometers west of Duc Pho, Quang Ngai Province, Republic of South Vietnam, on April 24, 1967.” I believe this helicopter belonged to the 1st Squadron,9th Cav,1stCav Div, not the 9th Cav.Div.

  4. I wanted information and photos and malitary archieved information of Marrshall Jones Jr. in 1942 and World War 2 Born in Zachery Louisana

  5. That helicopter was crewed by my father Craig Matlock, 1/9th Cav, 66-67. He was the crew chief and door gunner.

  6. i would like to see my photos in the stars and stripes newspaper in 1967. i was a combat photographer with the 69th sig. btln., det “b” of cam rahn bay.

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