Friday, June 13, 2008

MSA Mission to Saigon

This cover has a return address from the Mutual Security Agency (MSA) mission to Saigon, which was formed in 1951 under Truman.

Averill Harriman was the Director of the MSA at this time and was focused on organizing covert operations and psychological warfare in Vietnam. In 1954 the MSA became the Foreign Operations Agency (FOA), then the International Cooperation Agency (ICA) and finally the Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1961.

The cover was sent from Saigon on 29 Jul 1952 to Portland, Oregon but was redirected to Parks Air Base in California, which had just re-opened in the previous year after sitting abandoned since 1946.

A Portland machine cancel on the front and hand stamp on reverse peg the cover's arrival as August 5th. Straight line date markings of August 14 and 15 probably mark its arrival at its destination. Somewhat ironic is the sender's notation on the reverse, "P.S. Rich this went as air mail - check delivery time."

Three copies of the first Vietnamese airmail stamp issued March 8, 1952 (Scott #C1) attractively grace the cover. At 9$90, the sender likely overpaid the rate, which was 8$50 to North America as of December 1953 (John Carroll).

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