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Asia/Other : Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

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Linus
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16 Nov 2017
12:38:39pm
In recent weeks, the local public TV station has aired episodes of "The Vietnam War," a documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that stirred up many memories of my growing up in the 1960s and 1970s time period. Inspired by that, I took a closer look through the Vietnam covers I have in my collection, and this cover scanned below became my next research project...

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First I googled the return address: HQ III MAF (CIB). This decodes to Headquarters - Third Marine Amphibious Force - Combat Information Bureau in Danang, Republic of Vietnam. The CIB was set up in an old motel at Museum Pier in Danang to coordinate the activities of the hundreds of media reps who came to cover the Vietnam War. There were TV reporters, such as Dan Rather and Moreley Safer, camera crews, photographers, and other civilian media reps who were escorted by CIB marines. Next I googled John Groth from the return address, and it turns out that he was a combat sketch artist. Here is a picture of him...

Linus

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Linus
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16 Nov 2017
12:49:23pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

I searched some more on the internet and found a print that sold on ebay by John Groth shown below...

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On the back of the print it says: COMBAT ART--MARINES RUN PAST VIETNAMESE WOMAN. Vietnam, Dec67 Artist: John Groth

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Linus
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16 Nov 2017
01:01:10pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Zooming in on the signature on this print, it appears that my cover was signed by John Groth himself, as they look like the same signature...

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Philatarium
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APS #187980
16 Nov 2017
01:25:06pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Wow -- that's quite a story!

Thank you for sharing it!

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"The early bird may get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese."

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Jeredutt3
16 Nov 2017
08:15:41pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

very cool

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Linus
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05 Mar 2018
10:20:34am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Thank you for the kind words, Philatarium and Jeredutt3, regarding this cover.

I have decided to broaden this thread and open it up for anyone who would like to share their covers from Vietnam during the time of the war, so I modified the title a little.

Below I have scanned a registered cover from Saigon mailed January 25, 1968 from the Embassy of the Republic of China in Saigon to Hartnell College in Salinas, California, USA. This looks like a young woman was applying to college in the United States. The receiving cancel on the back is January 29, 1968, Salinas, California, which means it was January 30, 1968 in Vietnam. One of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, the Tet Offensive, was launched by North Vietnam on January 30, 1968. I am still looking for a cover from Vietnam that is postmarked on this date, but so far, this is the closest I have found.

Linus

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Linus
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05 Mar 2018
11:11:41am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Scanned below are two covers that I recently found at a stamp show in Minnesota. The first one is postmarked from MOC-HOA, Vietnam and the second is from GIONGTROM, Vietnam; both are towns in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam canceled in 1973. Both were mailed by a Canadian Forces Captain J.G. Paynter back to the Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack in Vedder Crossing, British Columbia, Canada. These two covers were probably philatelically created to get cancels from these two smaller town post offices, but I like them anyway, and they fit in nicely with the rest of my Vietnam collection.

Linus

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pigdoc
05 Mar 2018
05:13:13pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Haven't done much research on this one yet, but I like it because it's just a workaday cover with no philatelic intent:

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The "KBC" system was to specify postal delivery zones. This from a reference created by Andrew Crenshaw:

"KBC (Khu Buu Chinh) numbers, or military postal distribution codes (representing postal zones) were used to route mail to South Vietnamese troops while obscuring units and locations from the enemy, similar to those used by American APOs (Army Post Offices). Each Republic of Viet-Nam military unit was assigned a four-digit KBC number, that was sometimes shared by other units. Some KBCs remained in one location while others moved with the troops. Many South Vietnamese military documents, mail, uniforms, certificates, and awards with KBC were destroyed by soldiers and their families trying to avoid long terms in re-education or concentration camps. Commissioned officers and members of elite units such as the Rangers, Marines or Airborne units were especially at risk for persecution. Many of those who fled the country had their documents confiscated upon arrival in another country. Recently, an official KBC record came to light that lists all KBC numbers, with locations and units served. This document is in the process of being updated based on this document."

Here's a link to that document:
https://hoiquanphidung.com/uploadhinh/hqpd3/HQPD_1371349825.pdf

Looking at the document, KBC 3338 is for a LRRP unit, "Recon Force B". LRRP was an anagram for Long Range Reconnaisance Patrol. KBC 4907, the addressee's postal zone is not shown in the document.

Here's an exhibit by Crenshaw from the 2009 NAPEX show:
http://www.sicp-online.org/articles/VietnamNAPEX2009.pdf

It is curious that the inscription on the reverse is apparently dated 8 days AFTER the date in the postmark.
Would be grateful for any additional insight on this cover!

Thanks for creating this thread, Linus!
Great info on John Groth.
-Paul




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pigdoc
05 Mar 2018
05:24:29pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Here's a closer look at the indicia:
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I'm not having complete success in translating the inscription but it seems to be an exhortation to be happy for what you have...in the face of the murderous Viet Cong, I guess...see the city in the background, in flames?

Really heavy propaganda on many of the Vietnamese stamps of this era...

-Paul

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pigdoc
13 Apr 2018
08:35:17am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Bumping this topic with a new acquisition, an adversity cover:

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Franked with a stamp for Military Staff, first issued in 1973. Note there is no denomination on the stamp. Superceded by the same design in 1975 with a different overprint.

This one was used AFTER Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975. Can't quite make out the full date in the CDS, but it looks like 1979 to me, maybe 1978. Looks like local delivery.

I'm calling it an "adversity cover", because it is a handmade envelope, made from a poor quality brownish paper with many inclusions and quadrille-printed.

Some condition issues: those scratches appear to be where someone was scribbling, attempting to get a ball point pen to work (another adversity issue?) and some scrapes on the stamp, but at least it's tied!

Anything interesting in the addresses?

Thanks,
-Paul

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pigdoc
13 Apr 2018
08:53:47am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

For reference, here is the re-issue which is the last pre-unification military stamp. I refer to this stamp in the above posting:

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As you can see, the BUU CHÍNH (POSTAL) and TEM QUÂN DOI (MILITARY STAMP) indicia have changed places. Difficult to make out, even with magnification, but the designer's (?) marking in the lower right is different between the two issues. In the earlier one, there is no date, but in this one, it looks like "72", which is at odds with the purported issue year of 1975...

Genuine postally used (GPU) North Vietnamese stamps are quite scarce, especially the military stamps. Plenty of CTOs around, so I prefer collecting them on cover.

-Paul

Who's next?

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pigdoc
14 Aug 2018
10:17:30am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

To answer the question above, "Me, I guess..."
Time to bump this thread to the top!

Another thread contributes to this topic, started by Jere a couple of days ago:
https://stamporama.com/discboard/disc_main.php?action=20&id=20693#151793

I'm constantly on the lookout for interesting NON-philatelic wartime Vietnam postal history. Recently bagged a nice little set of five covers, all posted between June, 1975 and April, 1976. All different senders and recipients.

Of course, the US involvement in Vietnam ended on April 30, 1975, but the war was FAR from 'over' for the Vietnamese.

Here's the one I like most:
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It's mailed from Hanoi, January 24, 1976. Receiver cancel on the back: THANH PHO HO CHI MINH, February 4, 1976. So, it got mailed capital to capital. That took 11 days. Says something about state of the roads infrastructure at that time...This one could have traversed the Ho Chi Minh trail. Wonder about the likelihood of that...

I am particularly attracted to the gorgeous, hand-painted watercolor vignette of water lilies. I wonder if that was done by the sender. This one has a 3-page hand written letter enclosure that clearly goes with the cover! Date line is Gia Lâm 21.1.1975. Yes, 1975. I wonder if that was the writer's brain-fart. How long into January do YOU continue to use the previous year in a written date? ;-) Gia Lâm is the district that includes Hanoi. The envelope itself is hand-made, from a piece of quadrille paper. Adversity cover?

Another of the covers in this set is addressed to the same location, F9229, Thanh Pho but to a different recipient, also with a hand-written letter enclosure. I wondered if this was a KBC number (see above), but I can find no reference to it. A subject for further research!

The letter enclosure is neatly written. Does anybody read Vietnamese?

Enjoy!
-Paul


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Bobstamp
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14 Aug 2018
07:53:03pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

This cover illustrates the end of the American government's diplomatic relations with South Vietnam, which came with the Fall of Saigon to communist forces on April 30, 1975. It was posted on April 23, 1975, in San Antonio. The U.S. embassy in Saigon was closed and all personnel were evacuated on April 29, 1975.

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Bob

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pigdoc
17 Aug 2018
08:10:19am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

" John Valdez, a career Marine whose life for three decades has been defined by one overarching distinction: On April 30, 1975, he was the last man to climb on board the last helicopter out of Saigon, an act that marked the end of America's official military presence in Vietnam..."

There is a recent book describing the high drama of these final moments. Can't remember the title at the moment...

It's:
Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam
by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Published April 3, 2012

I thought it an excellent read!

-Paul

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pigdoc
03 Jan 2019
02:56:08pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

A couple of Vietnam covers, recent additions to my collection.

I am wondering if these represent communications from the Indian forces that were in Vietnam to monitor compliance with the 1954 Geneva accords...
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Interesting that they are to the same addressee, but from different senders...
Bob? What say you?

-Paul

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pigdoc
30 May 2019
10:36:22am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Time to revive this topic. THANKS Linus, for starting it!

Here's a very recent (this morning) acquisition:
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Seller is in Beijing. Obviously Chinese characters and a Chinese stamp, but the imagery seems to represent the Vietnam War. Note the crashing airplane and parachute in the background, upper right.

Can anyone shed light? I am particularly interested in deciphering the postmark.
Would "83" in the postmark indicate the Chinese year 4683? This would correspond to 1985.

Thanks,
-Paul



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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
05 Jun 2019
11:21:42am

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re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

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Here's my contribution! My father was a US Army officer and was in Viet Nam in 1962, before the "official" war. You can see "Adv Team" in his return address on the top cover.

The second one was from when he was in the hospital with hepatitis. I'm not sure where the USAF Clark Hospital actually was. It may have been outside of Viet Nam.

Both of these covers were addressed to my grandparents. My grandmother saved everything!

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Linus
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05 Jun 2019
06:36:53pm
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Tom -

Those are great covers, and even better when they are family history!

Clark in the return address and APO 74 in the cancellation refer to Clark Airforce Base in the Philippines. This was a main logistics support air base for everything in and out of Vietnam during the war.

APO 143 in your top cover cancellation refers to Saigon or to Tan Son Nhut Airbase in Saigon, either way, it was mailed from Vietnam.

Here is my source of information, and a good link to bookmark, for APO numbers during the Vietnam War:

http://1stmob.com/APO_Location_1.html


Thanks for adding to this thread, and you too pigdoc,
Linus

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DaveSheridan
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06 Jun 2019
01:01:17am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Australian Forces mail

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DaveSheridan
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06 Jun 2019
01:03:09am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

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DaveSheridan
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06 Jun 2019
01:04:32am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

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Linus
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12 Jun 2019
10:02:58am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

I found this item at the Iowa City postcard show, and to me, it seems a bit odd. Didn't these people know there was a war going on in Vietnam? I guess tourists still visited Saigon during this time period, which I did not know.

Linus

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pigdoc
12 Jun 2019
11:20:55am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Very cool, Linus.

H?i Tr??ng Di?n H?ng translates to Theater Hall. I can't establish if the building still stands.

Hard to say when the photo was taken. I believe that's a late-1940s Chevy in the picture, but that doesn't really date it...

The infamous Hamburger Hill assault occurred May 10-20, 1969.

The first withdrawals of US troops from Vietnam associated with downsizing the US presence occurred on July 8, 1969, so the US presence was near its peak then.

Interestingly, Nixon's only trip to Vietnam was then, and he met with Thieu on July 30, 1969, presumably in Saigon.

A Viet Cong offensive against 150 South Vietnamese targets commenced on August 12, 1969.

So, the sender of the card seems to have lucked out in visiting Saigon during a relative lull in the fighting. Maybe they figured that, if Saigon was safe enough for the US President, that it would be safe enough for us?

But ya, I can't imagine my wife submitting to vacationing in a war zone...

-Paul

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pigdoc
16 Jun 2019
11:21:14am
re: Vietnam Postal History From 1960s & 1970s

Received that Chinese envelope, appearing to show a North Vietnamese scene of air defense (shown above). I was able to do some OCR (for free) at onlineocr.net, and then translation of the Chinese characters. Here is an enlargement of the caption on the cachet:
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I didn't try to run OCR on the Chinese characters, as the postmark seems to interfere. Just wondering if anyone can translate the 6 or 7 characters to the left of "7 3 1 4".

Here's the reverse:
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OCR and translation of the preprinted characters yield that first line is Recipient's Address. Second line is Recipient's Name. And lower line is Sender's Address. I tried running OCR on the manuscript characters, with limited success. What I got is that the 3rd and 4th manuscript characters from the left in the top line are "Shan shi" for "Mountain City". But, that's all I got. Any help?

Oh, the stamp is Scott #1729, issued between 1981 and 1983.

Thanks,
-Paul

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