Ellsworth Bunker (1894–1984), who served the US in various capacities under seven presidents, was without a doubt one of the most important American diplomats of the 20th century. His highly regarded skill as a worldwide troubleshooter landed him in the middle of some of the most politically complex situations of our time—most notably as ambassador to wartime South Vietnam, from 1967 to 1973. Bunker made other significant contributions as ambassador to India under Eisenhower, and in drawing up the Panama Canal treaties under Carter. For these efforts, he was twice awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction—one of which is included in this collection. Other significant items in the sale of the Bunker Archive are a pen used to sign the Paris Peace Accords, the flag flown over the United States Embassy in Saigon on the day the cease fire took effect, drafts of Bunker’s unpublished autobiography, presidential signed photos, and an extensive assortment of medals, awards, and private papers. All items seen below are included in the single-lot sale of the Bunker Archive, and are arranged chronologically. A more comprehensive list is available for download or viewing by clicking here. RR Auction COA.
Presidential Medal of Freedom with Special Distinction
1. Bunker's Presidential Medal of Freedom. Presidential Medal of Freedom with Special Distinction, presented to Ellsworth Bunker in 1967, the only individual to receive the award with distinction twice. The medal is composed of a three-inch badge in the form of a star of five white enamel points with a gold eagle with wings spread between each pair of points on the star. Each eagle stands on a red enamel triangle. In the center is a constellation of 13 gold stars set in a field of blue, surrounded by a gold rim. The reverse of the medal bears the unique serial number D.2 and is inscribed “Presidential Medal of Freedom, Ellsworth Bunker.” Medal is accompanied by the blue and white striped grosgrain shoulder sash with pinked edges finished at the hip with a rosette to which is affixed a circular medal bearing a constellation of 13 gold stars set in a field of blue enamel. The medals are accompanied by a ribbon bar in blue and white surmounted with a gold eagle, a miniature medal pendant with a blue and white ribbon surmounted by a gold eagle for wear on a mess dress, and a blue velvet lapel badge secured at one end by a gold eagle pin for wear on civilian clothes. All are housed within a satin and velvet lined wooden presentation box inset with a brass medallion of the seal of the United States.
Historic US flag that flew over the Saigon embassy in both war and peace
2. Vietnam Presentation Flag. United States flag, flown over the United States Embassy in Saigon on January 28, 1973, the day the cease fire took effect, presented to Ellsworth Bunker for his service as ambassador to Vietnam during a ceremony on May 5, 1973. Folded flag is housed in a wood and glass triangular presentation case, 27 x 18, with an engraved presentation plaque affixed to the glass which reads, “Presented to The Honorable Ellsworth Bunker, Ambassador to Vietnam 1967–1973 by The Marines of Company ‘E’ Marine Security Guard Battalion, ‘Semper Fidelis.’” In fine condition, with some light tarnishing to plaque and some scattered dings and surface wear to case. Accompanied by a clipped article from the May 7, 1973 Stars and Stripes, with a headline reading “Marines Give Bunker War and Peace Flag.” Article reads, in part: “The U. S. Marine guards Saturday presented departing Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker with the last American flag to fly over the U. S. Embassy in war and the first to fly overhead in peace. In a brief ceremony on the lawn of the embassy, maj. General Diffee…presented the 78-year-old ambassador with the flag that flew over the embassy on Jan. 28, the day the Vietnam cease-fire went into effect.” Company ‘E’ was vital to the protection of the embassy during the Tet offensive, when Viet Cong soldiers blew a hole in the outside wall and attacked, resulting in the deaths of five servicemen and 17 enemy soldiers. Being the only flag flown over the Saigon embassy in both war and peace, coupled with its impeccable provenance, this flag is an item of supreme historical significance.
Pen used to sign the Paris Accords presented to Bunker by signer Tran-Van-Lam
3. Vietnam Peace Treaty Pen. A Waterman fountain pen used to sign the Vietnam Peace Agreements in Paris on January 1, 1973. Pen measures 2.25? long with cap and is housed in its original box. Accompanied by a typed presentation which reads, “To his Excellency Mr. Ellsworth Bunker, Pen used by Mr. Tran-Van-Lam, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Viet-Nam to sign The Viet-Nam Peace Agreements, Paris 27-1-1973.” In fine condition. Tran-Van-Lam was one of five signers of the Paris Peace Accords, along with Henry Cabot Lodge, William P. Rogers, Nguyen Duy Trinh, and Nguyen Thi Binh. The Paris Accords brought about an end to direct military involvement of the United States in Vietnam and resulted in a temporary cease-fire, with the war officially ending two years later with the fall of Saigon to the People’s Army of Vietnam on April 30, 1975.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.