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CRASH: His plane dropped into the jungle ... but the courier survived and delivered his precious papers These quiet travelers carry TINT in their brief eases. . . They're Diplomatic Couriers ON A foggy dawn in one of the last days of the war a transport plane took off for London from a Scandinavian air base. Among its passengers was a slim, middle-aged man with a brief case. He looked like a salesman or an insurance clerk — like almost anything, in fact, but a heroic figure of the war. A few hours later the plane was attacked by a Messerschmitt. It was bo badly crip pled that, though it eacaped, it had to veer off its course for an emergency land ing in northern Prance. Its landing gear had been shot to bits; so it ground-looped and ended its career on its back. The slim man with the brief case crawled out. bleeding and dazed. But he insisted on getting ti^London; he patted the case and explained he had ur gent government business to perform. TOP SECRET! By Oscar Schisgall He was helped aboard another transport. This one, as luck would have it, crashed into the sea just off the British coast. The man was picked up by a boat and taken ashore in bad shape. But he was still deter mined to get on, still so vehement about it that he was put on a train. And that evening he delivered his brief case full of secret docu ments to the American Embassy in London — his duty at last completed. He was a member of the State Depart ment's Courier Section, one of the 85 anony mous men who regard all kinds of hazards as the routine elements of their job. You may have seen them on trains, on ships, in planes — quiet, business-like trav elers with brief cases. They gp all over the world, carrying papers addressed to Ameri can embassies and missions. If a matter is so secret that it can't be en trusted to ordinary means of communication, a courier takes it to his destination. (And he's expected to keep an eye on regular diplomatic pouches when they're on his train or plane.) He also carries maps and charts, for such things cannot be telegraphed. And as an in tegral part of the secrecy of his papers, he himself never knows their contents. It's never an easy job. If, for example, you have to take a message to our ambassador at Kabul in Afghanistan — to whom messages are carried every two weeks — you travel by train only to the Khyber Pass. Thtere you heave your baggage aboard a heavy-duty truck and face almost 300 miles of the roughest, bumpiest riding in the world. In winter it's as freezing a trip as you'll find, with the temperature far below zero, gales whining through the mountains, and blizzards swirling down to blind your eyes. And in summer you can ride only at night, because in daylight the valleys are so intol erably hot that the tires melt on their wheels. The Kabul run is, of course, unusual. Most places can be reached more easily and by conventional methods — by ship, plane, train.