845 – Vietnam-era veteran, Charles J. Zoerb, was a counterfeiter

Army veteran Charles J. Zoerb, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Army veteran Charles J. Zoerb at his home, in Alden on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Charles J. Zoerb served in the Vietnam War without ever setting foot in country but his work as a counterfeiter appeared  up all over North and South Vietnam. His story appeared in an article in The Buffalo News titled: Vietnam-era veteran counterfeited, legally, to make life hard for enemy submitted by Lou Michel.

Before the Alden, New York resident was drafted in February of 1965 he had worked as a printer at Arcata Graphics in Cheektowaga. That job experience saved him from going to Vietnam as an infantryman. After basic training he was sent to infantry advanced individual training. On the second day of AIT he was pulled out and sent to Fort Eustis, Virginia. There he was presented a top secret clearance and a new MOS as a printer technician. On Feb. 18, 1966 he arrived on the Pacific island of Okinawa where he was assigned to the Army’s 15th Psychological Operations printing branch.

He spent the next twelve months printing fake Vietnamese currency and propaganda leaflets. The counterfeit money would be dropped over North Vietnam and then it would hopefully be picked up by persons who would infiltrate into Vietnam. The fake bills were marked so the carriers of the funny money could be more easily identified by the South Vietnamese authorities. One wonders who came up with that bright idea.

The story about Zoerb in the Buffalo News does not give any indications at to the effectiveness of the program. We do know that it prevented him from going to Vietnam as a ground pounder. Zoerb’s story does point up the importance of technical training. In this case it probably saved his life.

He story has a happy ending. He became an E-5, left the Army in March 1967, married his hometown sweet heart and had a successful career with the New York State Thruway Authority. Zoerb retired after 30 years as a supervisor in facilities maintenance. He says he is proud of his memberships in the Alden VFW Post 7967, East Aurora American Legion Post 362 and the Aurora Vietnam Veterans.

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