Coin commemorates 35 years since Vietnam
Collectible coin commemorates 35 years since Vietnam war’s end
During the Vietnam War, tiny slips of paper are estimated to have saved thousands of lives.
Now, 5,000 of those pieces of paper are taking pride of place accompanying a new coin issued to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the end of America’s longest war.
The Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
Millions of printed safe conduct passes were dropped by the US and its allies on enemy lines during the 20-year war to entice Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers to surrender.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the ideological commanders of the communist-aligned forces were attempting to overthrow the South Vietnamese government and its western allies. But many of the communist fighters on the ground were as young as 12 or 13 and weren’t exactly keen to lay down their lives at such a young age.
So the Allies – South Vietnam, the US, Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines, Thailand and South Korea – designed multi-lingual safe conduct passes urging the enemy to surrender.
Now, the New Zealand Mint has uncovered 5,000 of the paper passes in, well, mint condition. And the company has produced an exclusive run of a special commemorative coin to be marketed world-wide together with a copy of the pass.
New Zealand Mint Sales Director Chris Kirkness says the safe conduct passes saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
“Of course it was a huge cold war conflict, the west versus communism, but without these passes many more would have died. We feel privileged to be able to use the passes with our new coin to commemorate the ending of hostilities on April 30, 1975.”
Each coin comes with an authentic copy of the seven-flag Safe Conduct Pass introduced in 1967. The pass has the caption ‘Giay Thong-Hanh’ meaning ‘Safe Conduct Pass’ in Vietnamese.
Underneath the image is a caption with the message ‘Safe Conduct Pass to be honoured by all Vietnamese government agencies and allied forces’ in English, Korean and Thai.
On the back, it bears the signature of President Ngo Dinh Diem with a message in Vietnamese for the surrendering soldier: ‘Carry this safe conduct pass to collaborate with the National Government and you will be: Kindly welcomed, Assured of your security, Well treated’.
The coin depicts a selectively gold gilded and coloured flag of the Republic of (South) Vietnam, the central image of the Safe Conduct Pass. It also features in engraving a South Vietnam soldier standing next to a Viet Cong defector. The image has been taken from the original photo on the back of the Safe Conduct Pass.
Mr Kirkness says the collectibles will be marketed not only in New Zealand but also globally including in the United States.
Specifications of Coin
99.9% silver with selective gold gilding and colour
1 troy oz
Worldwide mintage: 5,000