To help control the inflationary impact of United States
currency on the economy of South Vietnam, the military printed its own money, called
Military Payment Certificates. And to prevent black marketeering the MPC script was
changed periodically, without notice. One day we'd receive an announcement that the
MPC would be changing, and someone would come out to our base to exchange money.
This always created a scramble outside the wire, because the Vietnamese locals needed to
immediately find someone to buy their old money, often at fantastic discounts, in order
that they might salvage something. Remember, when those kids sold us 50 cent cokes,
we paid in MPC because that's all we had. It was illegal to carry greenbacks.
There was big money to be made by selling American currency to the
Vietnamese. While I worked as a company clerk in Cu Chi I prepared some legal papers
for a doctor assigned to our battalion who had been involved in smuggling currency into
the country. He would cash his paycheck, buy money orders to send home to his wife
who then converted them to greenbacks and mailed the cash back to him. Then he sold
the greenbacks on the black market for a good profit and started the cycle over
again. Until he got caught and court martialed.
MPC often had military themes, with pictures of jets and bombers
and ships. Or perhaps images of Vietnamese peasants. Whatever the pictures, it
most closely resembled Monopoly money - it was the same size and came in designer colors.
Military Payment Certificates: Tales Of A War Far Away
Copyright © 1995 Kirk S. Ramsey
March 02, 1995