MACV Pocket Card, "The Enemy In Your Hands"

As a member of the U.S. Military Forces, you will comply with the Geneva Prisoner of War Convention of 1949 to which your country adheres. Under these Conventions:

You can and will:

Disarm your prisoner.
Immediately search him thoroughly.
Require him to be silent.
Segregate him from other prisoners.
Guard him carefully.
Take him to the place designated by your commander.

You cannot and must not:

Mistreat your prisoner.
Humiliate or degrade him.
Take any of his personal effects that do not have significant military value.
Refuse him medical treatment if required and available.



English Vietnamese
Halt Dung Lai
Lay down your gun Buong sung xuong
Put up your hands Dua tay len
Keep your hands on your head Dau tay len dau
I will search you Toi Kham ong
Do not talk Lai dang kia
Turn Right Xay ben phai
Turn Left Xay ben trai


1.) Handle him firmly, promptly, but humanely.

The captive must be disarmed, searched, secured and watched. But he must also be treated at all times as a human being. He must not be tortured, killed, mutilated, or degraded, even if he refuses to talk. If the captive is a woman, treat her with all respect due her sex.

2.) Take the captive quickly to security.

As soon as possible evacuate the captive to a place of safety and interrogation designated by your commander. Military documents taken from the captive are also sent to the interrogators, but the captive will keep his personal equipment except weapons.

3.) Mistreatment of any captive is a criminal offense. Every soldier is personally responsible for the enemy in his hands.

It is both dishonorable and foolish to mistreat a captive. It is also a punishable offense. Not even a beaten enemy will surrender if he knows his captors will torture or kill him. He will resist and make his capture more costly. Fair treatment of captives encourages the enemy to surrender.

4.) Treat the sick and wounded captive as best you can.

The captive saved may be an intelligence source. In any case he is a human being and must be treated like one. The soldier who ignores the sick and wounded degrades his uniform.

5.) All persons in your hands, whether suspects, civilians, or combat captives, must be protected against violence, insults, curiosity, and reprisals of any kind.

Leave punishment to the courts and judges. The soldier shows his strength by his fairness and humanity to the persons in his hands.

(September 1967)

Copyright Digital History 2018