Diplomatic Couriers - History
"None Is Swifter Than These"
The motto of the U.S. Diplomatic Courier Service -- “None is swifter than these” -- is taken from Greek historian Herodotus’ description of the mounted messenger service used by the king of Persia in 430 BC.
The Diplomatic Courier Service traces its origin to 1918, when the U.S. Army established its “Silver Greyhounds” courier team.
U.S. Army Major Amos J. Peaslee (U.S. Army photo)
In March of that year, U.S. Army Gen. John Pershing authorized U.S. Army Major Amos J. Peaslee to organize a military courier service, the “Silver Greyhounds”, to carry sensitive correspondence between Paris and Washington during World War I and during the U.S.-led peace conference that followed.
Within three weeks, transit times for U.S. correspondence between Paris and Washington dropped from roughly five weeks to less than two weeks.
In November 1918, the Silver Greyhounds’ consignments shifted from being primarily military to being primarily diplomatic. Thus, the Silver Greyhounds became the first U.S. organization dedicated specifically to the movement of diplomatic pouches.
In December 1918, the Silver Greyhounds formally began to support the U.S. Department of State in advance of the Paris Peace Conference delegation in early 1919.
In 1985, the Diplomatic Courier Service became part of the DSS during a Department of State consolidation that included the creation of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
In 1971, more than half a century after the creation of the Diplomatic Courier Service, the first woman courier, Susan Shirley Carter, reported for duty. DSS recounts the adventures of four women who traveled with the Diplomatic Courier Service during the past six decades.
This short video tells the story of U.S. diplomatic couriers’ journey from Karachi to Kabul with in their own words.
Click here to watch.
Diplomatic Courier Seth Foti died on August 23, 2000, along with 142 other passengers in the crash of Gulf Air flight 072 in the shallow waters north of Manama, Bahrain. He was the sixth courier to die in the line of duty for the U.S. Department of State.
DIPLOMATIC COURIERS HAND-CARRY TO GERMAN MUSEUM HISTORIC LETTER OUTLINING PLAN TO SAVE JEWISH REFUGEES BEFORE WORLD WAR II
Diplomatic couriers hand-deliver to Stuttgart's Haus der Baden-Württemberg museum a historic letter from Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle describing his efforts to help Jewish refugees flee Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.
On May 25, 2008, Tomas “Andy” Perez encountered extraordinary danger. He was on an official mission when the plane he was on, taking off from Brussels, left the runway and plunged into a field. Perez’s response to this crisis earned him the Department of State’s Award for Heroism.