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Cyclo-Media, the MIBARS Newspaper in Vietnam

By Richard Lindeborg

Whether clerk, corpsman, or grunt in Vietnam, all soldiers had access to military-published newspapers, which played a key role in educating them about the war and service life. Military authorities sanctioned the publication of hundreds of such newssheets over the years and throughout the country. . . . GI newspapers were used to build morale giving priority to stories that promoted goodwill between Americans and South Vietnamese. . . . Nearly every issue hailed civic action projects.

Meredith H. Lair
“Armed with Abundance: Consumerism & Soldiering in the Vietnam War,”
University of North Carolina Press

The first issue of the MIBARS command newspaper later named Cyclo-Media came out on 14 November 1969 under the temporary name XXXX and with the promise that a permanent name would be selected later.

It contained the standard military newspaper disclaimer that the XXXX, “an authorized publication of the 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (ARS), is published the second and fourth Friday of each month at the 1st MI Bn (ARS), APO 96307. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the department of the Army. This newspaper does not qualify for the free postage privilege.”

The staff listed in that first issue included
LTC Albert F. P. Jones, Bn, CO
Cpt. Philip Larson, Bn PIO
Cpt. Edward Dwyer, Det A PIO
Maj. George Tobias, Det B PIO
Lt. Gary Schumaker, Det C PIO
Lt Gary Lewis, Det E PIO
SP4 Richard A. Lindeborg, Editor.

The paper was printed in the MIBARS print shop, SP5 Thomas Giammarino, pressman.

When Uncle Sam drafted me, I managed to get myself into Communications School, so I arrived at HHC in the spring of 1969 as a commo specialist, soon becoming the “PFCIC” of the Commo Center. I was a journalist back in the world, so my secret mission was to find work on a military newspaper, of which MIBARS had none. From my old newspaper days, I knew that the Army submitted a lot of stories about soldiers serving in Vietnam to the newspapers in their hometowns, and I started asking around about whether I could help MIBARS by writing stories about our troops. Somehow my interest came to the attention of the CO, and soon I found myself in a meeting where it was decided that MIBARS not only would become an aggressive participant in the Army’s Hometown News Release program, but would also start a command newspaper, with me as the editor (an extra duty on top of commo).

The Army target was one hometown release per soldier per year, but Vietnam offered opportunities for much more. Every arrival in country was a story, as was every departure, promotion, and award. We added an in-processing step in the Commo shop, where I could snap a picture and gather information on the background of each arriving soldier. Repro developed the film and gave me several copies of a mug shot that I could include with information submitted stateside whenever a newsworthy event happened to one of our troops.

It also wasn’t long until we were able to get out our first issue of the new command newspaper. That first issue was five 8-1/2- by 11-inch pages. The text was typewritten and the headlines added in pencil using plastic templates as a guide. The masters were made of paper which had suffered in the high heat and humidity of Vietnam. It was always a race to see how many copies could be run off before the masters faded completely away. Sometimes the fading came so quickly that a second or even third set of masters had to be typed and hand lettered. SP5 Giammarino, who had studied printing in the New York metropolitan area before becoming an Army pressman, struggled mightily under these conditions.

That first issue announced a contest to give the paper a “real” name. Thank goodness, because those of us involved in the first issue were completely clueless that XXXX was the name of a popular brand of prophylactic sold at the PX.

The judges for the name contest were PFC Ramsey, Det A; Sp5 Thompson, Det B; Sp5 Mallory, Det C; Sp5 Fuller, Det D; Sp5 Miller, Det E; Sp4 Boylan, HHC; and Sp4 Engeseth, BnHQ.

The first issue under the new name, Cyclo-Media, started with a a full-page article “In Memorium SP4 Benoit” by LTC Jones, commemorating Sp4 Paul Benoit of Det B, who was killed during the performance of his duties by another member of the U.S. Army. SP4 Benoit was twenty years old, Regular Army, and was being recommended for promotion to Sp5. He was born in Bethesda, MD, and graduated from Princess Ann High School in Virginia Beach, VA.

By the time Cyclo-Media was named, it had begun to assemble a staff. Det C clerk Sp5 Mallory, Det D clerk Sp5 Fuller, artist Sp4 Green, proofreader Sp4 Freeman, Columnist Sp5 Marquez, and typist Sp4 Zurita.

In that same issue, the completely fictitious Mibars Melvin joined the staff, dispensing all sorts of worthless advice. Lt. Robjent, commo officer at Det E, suggested that the Battalion improve its communications security by using carrier pigeons instead of teletypes. Melvin replied, “We cannot assume that the enemy is incapable of jamming carrier pigeons; therefore, if Lt. Robjent would like to conduct experiments, I will be happy to show him where he can jam his carrier pigeons.”

The first January 1970 edition of Cyclo-Media covered the scene in when Bob Hope brought his Christmas show to Da Nang.

The second January issue announced the start of HHC’s civic action project teaching English to students at the Vietnamese Catholic School on Nguyen Hue St. in Gia Din, not far from Muscara Compound. The project was started by HHC CO Cpt. Eben S. Morrow, was soon joined by his XO, 1LT Richard Brems, and a cadre of enlisted men, including much of the Cyclo-Media Staff.
In another story, Cyclo-Media announced a cushy detail for Sp4 Dave Adamson of HHC repro, who was seleted for 60 days TDY with the Special Services as an actor in their production of “The Fantastics.” Adamson was an actor with the Hilberry Classic Theatre in Detroit before becoming a repro guy.

In that same issue, we announced the addition of Sp4 Pete Traux, a new II at Det D, to the Cyclo-Media Staff. Sp4 Traux had been a newspaper reporter prior to joining the Army.

By February, the fame of Cyclo-Media had begun to spread. We received a standing order for six copies of each issue of the paper from the commanding officer for the 15th MI Bn ARS.

A major story in April 1970 was creation of the “EM Power” organization at HHC. As described by Cpt. Philip Larson, the organization was designed as a self-help vehicle for personnel E-5 and below. Groups were formed to work on athletic programs, creation of a recreational photo lab, promotion of educational opportunities, and improvements to the HHC dayroom.

Also in April we announced that MIBARS was the designated US advisor to the ARVN Image Interpretation effort in Vietnam. This was billed as the first step toward an eventual DEROS for the entire MIBARS organization.

By the end of May, Cyclo-Media had undergone major changes in staff. CPT Leonard Ferrara was the Battalion PIO and Maj. Jackson the Det B PIO. Sp4 William Kucera was assistant editor. Sp5 Freeman and Sp5 Marquez had departed, and Sp5 Fuller had become a columnist, with typing duties performed by Sp5 Peterson and PFC Simpson.

I disappeared from the scene in the Fall of 1970 – yes, spring of 1969 to fall of 1970 is more than a year in Vietnam – leaving Cyclo-Media behind. (I wound up in Stuttgart, Germany, as editor of the VII Corps “Jayhawk,” a full-time job.

But I have in my files four issues from 1971 that somebody passed on to me. LTC W.I. Ames was Bn Co; 1LT Robert Madara, Bn PIO; Sp5 Jon Lewis, editor; SGT Jack Daniels, artist; Sp5 Ray Wrenn; pressman, Sp4 Fred Johnson, draftsman, and some suspicious characters – Sp5 Mickey Mibars rumor monger, Sp4 Choi Duck, mascot, and CATO, contributor at large without portfolio.

The paper was much larger 10-1/2 x 14 inches, had photos and typeset headlines, and even occasional color. One issue listed the place of publication as “Vietnam, of course…”

At the end of September 1971, SP5 Lewis announced his departure as editor, quoting “that renowned journalist, Richard Lindeborg, founder and former editor of the Cycle-Media” as having said that success is measured by the number of copies you can print and not have a stack left over, divided by the number of clods who point out each typographical error.” He said the average press run was 150 and that there was only one clod who pointed out the typographical errors (The BN CO).

So what did Cyclo-media cover?
  • Arrivals, short-timer parties, and departures
  • Sporting events and recreational activities.
  • Holiday celebrations at HHC and the detachments, including Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Unit Day, etc.
  • Civic action projects in the various units, including toys, food and clothing for orphans, and books and classes for school children.
  • Poems and fiction by MIBARS troops
  • R&R experiences
  • Unit mascots
  • MIBARS history
  • Absentee voting information,
  • Race relations
  • Drug abuse
  • Black market activities
  • And much, much more

And where is Cyclo-Media now? According to Meredith Lair (as mentioned, author of “Armed with Abundance: Consumerism & Soldiering in the Vietnam War,” it is filed in the U.S. Army Military History Institute (MHI) in Carlisle Pa.

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