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Diplomatic Courier Alumni

History of the Diplomatic Courier Service

  Peter Parker is known as the first American Diplomatic Courier.

Parker was commissioned by the Continental Congress on July 10, 1776 to deliver messages to Samuel Delap in Bordeaux.  The letters, relating to obtaining military supplies from France, were weighted so that they could be thrown overboard in the event of capture.(1)

The first documented courier service was in 3000 B.C. under King Sargon of Chaldea, Ancient Babylon.  King Sargon decreed the death penalty for all who interfered with the fleet runners who carried his messages marked with the Great Seal of Sargon. 

Couriers were important  in ancient Roman and Egyptian civilizations.  Ghengis Khan and the Incas also provided protection for their couriers.  The Incan couriers were called Chasquis.  

In 1914, US Embassies in London and Paris hired full time couriers to transport sensitive correspondence.

The success of the couriers was the inspiration for a corp of elite individuals who had a mission of delivering messages during World War I.   General John J. “Black Pershing tasked Army Captain Amos J. Peaslee to create a courier service for the U.S.Expeditionary Forces in Europe. The first couriers were service-members. The new Diplomatic Courier Service first mission was in Paris on December 2, 1918.

Military officer couriers later served President Wilson and the U.S.delegation at the Versailles peace negotiations during 1919.The U.S. Army courier service was the beginning of the Department of State's Diplomatic Courier Service. It was disbanded the next year when the Peace Commission concluded its activities, but 11 Marines and one civilian were then designated as couriers.

The Courier Service was disbanded again on July 30, 1933.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered its reestablishment in 1934, while attending the London economic conference. Three regular couriers were based in Paris. Regular service had been established to China, Japan, and the Americas in 1941. A worldwide schedule began after World War II.

The emblem of the Diplomatic Courier Service is a golden eagle in flight. Its motto, "none is swifter than these," is taken from Herodotus' description of Persian couriers. (1)

Edwin Schoelrich

Foreign Services Officer assigned as the first

“Chief of Couriers”

(1) source:

**Note: Error in news article the Courier is Frank P. Irwin

In 1941, diplomatic couriers began using Miami

as their first hub for routes to Latin America

The Vietnam War

The Manila Regional Office to Bangkok, Thailand

The Manila Regional Courier Office was formally established in the early 1950’s when couriers began traveling there in the late 1940’s from Hawaii as a hop-off station for hub travel to Southeast Asia and Australia. Because of the increasing courier service to Asia Posts it rapidly became a Regional Office.

Since 1969 the Bangkok Regional Diplomatic Courier Office has successfully performed courier services to Pacific, Asian and Sub-continent posts. Until the establishment of the Seoul Hub Office, the Bangkok Regional Office serviced posts to China from various locations such as Islamabad and Tokyo.

Panama/Zone Flag War

The impact this had on our Latin American Regional Courier Office in 1964

In January 1964 the deaths of four U.S. soldiers and 22 Panamanian Nationals resulted when the U.S. and Panamanian students clashed over which country’s national flag would fly in the U.S. administered Canal Zone. Diplomatic relations between the US and Panama were suspended and the result was that the Latin American Regional Diplomatic Courier Office (LARCO) was relocated to the Department of State in Washington. D. C. After one month, it was moved to Miami, where the office remained for 5 more months before moving back to Panama City.

Tom Taylor, a U.S. Diplomatic Courier, earned the nickname "Miracle Man" when he was one of only five survivors in the April 20, 1968 South African Airways crash that claimed 123 lives. His pouch was found in the wreckage & delivered

The First Female Diplomatic Courier was

(Photo: DSS Archives)

Susan Shirley Carter

Her first Courier mission on

November 16, 1974

The Courier Service joins the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in 1985