What we collect!
Stamporama Discussion Board Logo
For People Who Love To Talk About Stamps


71 visitors online

United States/Covers & Postmarks : Puzzling Vietnam War items

AuthorPostings
Bobstamp
Members Picture
07 Nov 2014
11:30:15pm
I purchased these two items recently from a dealer in the U.S. They are without doubt philatelic, but curious nevertheless.

Image Not Found

At first, unscepitcal glance, they seem genuine. The "POSTAGE PAID / PORT PAYE" rubber stamp impressions are common on free-franked covers from U.S. soldiers in Vietnam and addressed to non-U.S. destinations. But I have never seen a "WAR ZONE" hand stamp on any legitimate military mail from Vietnam, even though the sender had to be in the war zone to qualify for free postage. (Normally, at least on "domestic" posted from Vietnam, only the "Free" had to be written in the corner where a stamp would normally be. (They aren't envelopes, by the way, but "postcards" printed on light card stock. The backs are blank.)

My main interest in these items arises from the "GOD IS OUR CO-PILOT" slogan in the card on the left, and the "WE WILL WIN OVER COMMUNISM IN VIET NAM" handstamp on the card on the right. Both speak to the American beliefs, common during the Vietnam War era, that God was on the side of the Americans and that defeating communism in Vietnam was the primary goal. God wasn't in all of the cockpits of American aircraft in Vietnam; more than 5,000 aircraft were lost to enemy gunfire and missiles. And we didn't "WIN OVER COMMUNISM" in Vietnam. In fact, the United States, while it won the war in a military sense, lost the political war and much of the political credit and general approval it had achieved in the Second World War. If Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon had listened to their advisors they might have understood that the real enemy in Vietnam was not communism, but poverty fostered first by the French and then by the French- and American-supported "governments" of South Vietnam, which was hardly a democracy, the war might have gone much differently.

I have always maintained that stamps are as much vehicles of propaganda as they are "receipts" proving that postage was paid, or will be paid. "Covers" like these are even more blatantly propagandistic than stamps in my view.

The helicopters shown appear to be a Boeing CH-47 Chinook, on the left, and on the right a Sikorsky H-5, which was used to evacuate wounded soldiers in the Korean War but was obsolete by the time of the Vietnam War.

A question: Have any of you ever seen similar Vietnam War covers? Does anyone know anything about the origin of these particular covers? (They seem to have been created by different people, using different typewriters and different rubber stamps.


Like
Login to Like
this post

www.ephemeraltreasures.net
amsd
Members Picture
Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
08 Nov 2014
07:28:21am
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

Bob, I have not seen similar things, although my VN collection is sparse at best.

I have also never seen the port paye used on private correspondence, only commercial ones mailed in bulk and indicating payment made, not free franking privileges. This gives me pause.

But wait, maybe there's a reason the soldiers are actually paying the freight. Maybe we aren't yet engaged here, but only visiting in an advisory role, and that Sikorsky not as obsolete as suggested. Why? Look at the Bronx address. It shows Bronx 68. ZIP codes were introduced in July 1963; I would think that by the time Johnson sends combat troops in 1965, ZIP has been in place almost two full years and any American ought to have known his own ZIP or that of a long-time correspondent.

I think that these were likely sent before we morphed into our war and we send in the Marines and those lovely Navy corpsmen.

So the question becomes: when is free-franking offered to US servicemen in VN.

David

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

juicyheads.com/link.php?PLJZJP
michael78651
Members Picture
SOR Auctioneer
08 Nov 2014
08:38:07am
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

I remember in grade school that we were asked to write letters to the service men in Viet Nam. They told us that the service men would write back to us. I was excited about this, as I figured that I would get a stamp from Viet Nam to add to my fledgling stamp collection.

I did get a reply, which was fun in its own, but there was no stamp on the envelope. That would have been either when I was in the 4th or 5th grade. I don't recall when we wrote the letters. It would have been between late 1964 and early 1966.

Like
Login to Like
this post

"My book, "The Whitechapel Fog" is available on Kindle!"

www.hipstamp.com/store/the-online-stamp-shop
malcolm197
08 Nov 2014
06:01:50pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

Bob

I totally agree with you.It seems that whenever the US ( and the UK for that matter) gets involved in a foreign adventure to promote democracy ( or whatever todays strapline is) it props up a regime that is less than enthusiastic in promoting democracy itself - right up to today. While most of us can agree that the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Iraq of Saddam Hussein are/were quite evil - the alternatives both before and after in Iraq and Afghanistan are hardly models of moral and democratic rectitude. This means that we are quite unable to pontificate from any position of holding the moral high ground - and this is the reason that many hold politicians ( of every persuasion and in every country )in contempt.

The propaganda on the cards you show would quite rightly elicit howls of cynical laughter today if anyone were to clumsily promulgate them, - but in fairness they do probably capture the atmosphere of the time - and as such should be acceptable.

I have always said that you cannot judge historical personalities and events by todays social mores,but such judgements should be made in comparison to the prevailing standards of the time - and in addition hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Note that I am not making political judgements on my friends across the pond ( glass houses and stones spring to mind ),but am I alone in thinking that morality,rather than expediency does not enter into decision making any more?

Malcolm

Like 
1 Member
likes this post.
Login to Like.
amsd
Members Picture
Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
08 Nov 2014
07:53:50pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

Malcolm, I suspect that morality does still play a part, but A's morality is unlikely to be recognizable to B or C. There was little to be gained from an attack on Afghanistan other than moral retribution; Iraq appears to have included many other features in the calculation. That they appear utterly misguided today doesn't negate the possibility of an honest, and moral man's calculation. And since the American president at the time talked directly to god, I'm sure he was sure of his righteousness, even if god's messengers included guys like Chalabi, who would make Lucifer blush.

That the majority of people think it a misguided war now offers little comfort to my past minority position, as arguing against god's messenger is usually a fool's errand.

But then I tend to be against most wars.

David

Like 
1 Member
likes this post.
Login to Like.

"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

juicyheads.com/link.php?PLJZJP
purrfin2
Members Picture
09 Nov 2014
12:07:08pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

Okay, my husband was stationed in Guam. What he did when he mailed to the US was to address the envelope and put it in the Base Post Office. It was the Base Post Office that stamped the envelope "Postage Paid" and "War Zone".

The cover on the right was officially from a base Post Office. The one on the right was not an "official" stamp from a Base Post Office, but was stamped as seen.

The service guys could not put a return address for security reasons. The war zone encompassed the whole section of the area affected, including Guam. Go to Hawaii and you were out of the war zone.

As far as the Zip Code was concerned, I do remember we could use a two digit code for the beginning and then the Post Office went to a five digit code and now would like us to use the nine digit code when possible.

These two covers are very cool, nice pieces of postal history. Sure wish my Mom had kept the envelopes from my brother when he was in Da Nang. Of course my husband doesn't have any of the envelopes either.

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Appreciate the beauty of nature. You never know when life will deal you an unplanned twist of fate. Enjoy things while you can, because you just never know."
Bobstamp
Members Picture
09 Nov 2014
02:06:25pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

I was seriously wounded in Vietnam in 1966 and evacuated to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, where I spent almost nine months in recovery. I was surprised to learn that I still had free-franking privileges because the hospital was considered to be part of the "War Zone".

Here is a sheet from my philatelic exhibit about Vietnam, which includes a cover that I sent to my grandmother from the hospital:

Image Not Found

A friend noted that this system was open to abuse. Only we Vietnam vets were supposed to have free-franking privilege. I'm sure that there no system in place to assure that all free-franked mail from the hospital had been posted by bona fide vets.

At times the hospital seemed like a battle field, although the battles were not with the Viet Cong or the North Vietnam Army, but with Navy nurses! One day my fiancée, Susan, came to visit me. As usual, she sat on my bed, which was not only cozier but more practical: those hospital beds were really high, and if she sat in a chair she might have gotten a crick in her neck! Of course, my "favourite" nurse came by for an inspection, and ordered Susan off the bed. The next day the same nurse came by in the morning and offered a cheery "Good morning! How are you?!" I just looked at her, and didn't reply. I don't recall if she said anything more, but I figured that the worse that would happen was they would shoot me, and I was already used to that! D'Oh

Another funny story? OK. I was treated well by the corpsmen on my ward, I supped because I was one of them — a hospital corpsman, and whenever Susan came to visit me one or the other of them would put up bedside screens around my bed to give us some much appreciated privacy. MUCH appreciated privacy! One night when Susan and I were "visiting," an eager student hospital corpsman who had been assigned to my ward came on duty and noticed the screens. Assuming that I had been using a bedpan (I was in traction), he pulled aside a screen to retrieve and empty the bedpan. When he saw us — we weren't quite In flagrant delicto — he turned beet red, turned, and left, knocking down a screen in the process. Like dominoes, the other screens fell as well, revealing the interesting tableau to all of the 39 other sailors and marines on the ward. They clapped and hooted loudly. It was almost worth getting shot! Happy

Bob

Like 
2 Members
like this post.
Login to Like.

www.ephemeraltreasures.net
amsd
Members Picture
Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
09 Nov 2014
03:29:28pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

Luree, are you saying that Bob's cards were yours? or are you describing something else that I can' see?

David

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

juicyheads.com/link.php?PLJZJP
purrfin2
Members Picture
09 Nov 2014
04:14:32pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

No I didn't mean to come off as saying they were mine at all. I was just sharing information about the difference in the stamps. One came from the Base Post Office and the other one is a question as to where it was really stamped. It could've been at a Base Post Office.

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Appreciate the beauty of nature. You never know when life will deal you an unplanned twist of fate. Enjoy things while you can, because you just never know."
amsd
Members Picture
Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
09 Nov 2014
06:01:05pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

luree, how do you tell? I can recognize Base Post Office cancels that say, ummm, Base Post Office, but these......

David

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Save the USPS, buy stamps; save the hobby, use commemoratives"

juicyheads.com/link.php?PLJZJP
Bobstamp
Members Picture
09 Nov 2014
07:01:27pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

Lurlee, I'm not sure what you are saying about my two Vietnam War covers. Are you saying that you think they're genuine, if philatelic? That those "WAR ZONE" handstamps are genuine?

I've got many Vietnam War covers, both military and civilian, and I've never seen one with that handstamp. Are you saying that the Vietnam War "WAR ZONE" extended well beyond Vietnam, and that virtually any soldier within "striking distance" of Vietnam was in a "WAR ZONE"?

My battalion was included in a large amphibious operation in South Vietnam, about 150km south of Da Nang. I clearly remember being told when we crossed into the Combat Zone, which extended 50 miles out to sea, that we could stop using stamp to mail letters, and just had to write the word "Free" in the corner of the envelope where the stamp would normally go. Previously, we had been training in the Philippines and in Okinawa, and in those places — a lot closer to Vietnam than Guam — we always had to use stamps.

Bob

Like
Login to Like
this post

www.ephemeraltreasures.net
purrfin2
Members Picture
10 Nov 2014
06:10:26am
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

When it came to mailings in Nam the troupes could make up their own stamp. Such as the cover on the right with the helicopter. The guys could go into town and have a hand stamp made and stamp their own envelopes. So that one is definitely not an official PO stamp.

The one on the left, the round stamp, is a real APO stamp. No doubt that is genuine.

There was so much underhandedness going on in the Nam war that groups of US soldiers were fighting each other, not just the Viet Cong. If they didn't like your battalion, then you were toast.

I don't think we civilians will ever know the entire truth on the war issues in Nam. I've asked a lot of vets and each one tells me something very different, each one has a story all their own. This war was a very dirty war and I realize all wars are very dirty. That is not the question here. The question is about these two covers. Are they real? The round stamp is real, the helicopter is a hand stamp that was made by someone and then stamped on the envelope.

I don't know what else to tell you, I wasn't there when the mailing took place and I wasn't the person who mailed the items. I am just telling you what was told to me by a vet who was there and is knowledgeable in this field.

It is up to you whether you believe me or not.

Like
Login to Like
this post

"Appreciate the beauty of nature. You never know when life will deal you an unplanned twist of fate. Enjoy things while you can, because you just never know."
Stampme
24 Nov 2014
03:17:24pm
re: Puzzling Vietnam War items

I believe that both Vietnam covers/cards at the top were reproduced to induce a collector to purchase them and neither one are original to the period.

A couple years ago I bought three covers from a European seller similar to the two shown in the beginning of this thread. When they arrived, something about them did not seem right. I did some online research and found an article that focused on faked Vietnam war covers--one of mine was shown. Of course, the link was on a computer that died so, it's lost to me. The seller took them back after I sent him the article.

Your two covers seem to fit the bill for being faked although I hope they are genuine, but you, too seemed to suspect initially anyway they were philatelic inspirations, that they might not be what they seem to be.

How would one go about truly authenticating covers from the Vietnam war period? APS?

Bruce

Like
Login to Like
this post
        
Please Note:
Postings that were loaded from the old Discussion Board cannot be edited.

Contact Webmaster | Visitors Online | Unsubscribe Emails


This site is provided by Roy Lingen at www.buckacover.com

User Agreement

Copyright © 2019 Stamporama.com