How Star Trek Saved US Soldiers During The Vietnam War

Written by Barry Lee on
Star Trek Vietnam
Source: Screen Rant

During the Vietnam War, Captain Pierre Kirk was attached to the 363rd Transportation Company. Kirk and his men were fans of the original Star Trek series and patterned their radio call signs after various aspects of the series. Their weapons were called “phasers” and the junior officers had picked up the names of the characters, such as Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy. The practice was considered a great morale booster since the show aired in South Vietnam, a favorite of both Americans and Vietnamese.

One day, according to his account, Captain Kirk was leading an armored convoy along Route QL #1 from An Khe to Da Nang, when it came under fire from a Viet Cong ambush. Kirk got on the radio and announced, “Attention Viet Cong. We are the Federation Starship Enterprise, and you are now in deep trouble. Phaser banks—charge your phasers and fire on my order.” That was code for the gun trucks in the convoy to open fire.

Much to the real Captain Kirk’s surprise, the order was followed by a torrent of Vietnamese on a clear channel. Then the fire ceased, and the convoy proceeded without incident. Kirk believes that the ambushers thought they were about to be attacked by the real starship Enterprise. Another possibility is that the Viet Cong were loath to fight fellow Trekkies. In either case, the incident showed how popular culture is universal, even between enemies.