Sunday, May 20, 2007

Naval Officer Training Center in Rhode Island

Selected officer candidates in the Vietnamese Navy attended the Naval Officer Training Center in Rhode Island. This cover was sent in 1973.

A typical training program went like this: Quang Trung Training Center for basic training. If you tested high for English aptitude, you were sent to the Boat School in Saigon where you were taught English by U.S. Navy and civilian contractors. Some Finns even taught English here. Students were housed in two large ships anchored in the Saigon River in front of the Vietnamese Naval Headquarters. Those who did well at Boat School went on to train as officers. During the "Vietnamization" period, the high number of candidates resulted in some being trained in Australia.

VNNOC = "Vietnam Navy Officer Candidate"
IOCS = "International Officer Candidate School"

Thanks to Vinh Nguyen for this information.

Monday, May 14, 2007

KBC 4304 Soc Trang Airbase Cover 1953

This cover was sent from the sergeant in charge of personnel at Soc Trang Air Base southeast of Can Tho on 24 November 1953. The fledgling Vietnamese Air Force was still under French command at this time.

The red unit cachet carries the abbreviation "S.P." or Sector Postal in French. A Sector Postal was the equivalent of the American A.P.O. address and had five digits. The number on this cachet has four digits (4304), reflecting the new Vietnamese KBC numbering system.

Note the sender used the abbreviation "KBC" in the return address. Four-digit Sector Postal hand stamps were in use for only a couple of years.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Vietnamese Merchant Marine School Cover

The date on this cover appears to be 1953. It is definitely from the French period during the early 1950s. The printed return address on this cover reads:

State of Viet Nam
Education Ministry
Vietnamese Sea Transport/Merchant Marine School

According to Vinh Nguyen who served with the Vietnamese Navy:

"This school is where the French trained the Vietnamese to serve in various functions on their ships. This school was later turned over to the Vietnamese and in operation for many years. After the French left Indo-china the South Vietnamese Navy was founded and inherited a number of warships from the French. In order to build up the Navy the government began recruiting mariners from this school."

The recipient was a second mechanic aboard the French ship Pigneau De Bihaine. The address is appended, "Saigon."

The French abbreviation S.M.E.O. means
(thanks Philippe):

S means "Service" (or Society)
M means "Maritime"
E.O means "Extrême Orient"

The red hand stamp reads:

Quoc Gia Viet Nam: "State of Viet Nam"
Hang Hai Hoc Hieu: "Merchant Marine School"
Hieu Truong: "School Principal" (office of).