USA 1948 Fort Bliss Centennial

This stamp marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and salutes its role as a rocket testing area. It is also the first US stamp displaying rockets and spacecraft.

The above first day cover signed by rocket engineer, Wernher von Braun, who played a prominent role in all aspects of rocketry and space exploration. - Gallery of History Direct
Wernher von Braun was one of the most important rocket engineer during the period between the 1930s and the 1970s. From his teenage years, von Braun had held a keen interest in space flight and interplanetary travel. He was also a founding member of the Germany's amateur rocket group, Verein fur Raumschiffarht (VfR), as early as 1929. In 1932, the German Army, impressed by von Braun’s experimental work at VfR, employed him to research and develop liquid propellant rocket at Kummersdorf, an established rocket test site.

Von Braun and his team developed the A-4 (also known as the V-2) ballistic missile for the Nazis during World War II. The V-2, a liquid propellant missile, was the immediate antecedent of those used in space exploration programs in the United States and the Soviet Union. First flown in October 1942, it was employed against targets in Europe in September 1944.

An early prototype of a V-2 rocket, painted in black-and-white roll pattern scheme to aid tracking the rocket after launch.
In March 1945, it was obvious to von Braun that Germany would not achieve victory against the Allies. Afraid of being captured by the Soviet as prisoners of war, von Braun began engineered the surrender of himself and his members to the advancing American troops.

Von Braun was subsequently recruited to the U.S. in the aftermath of World War II. He signed a contract with the U.S Army and in September was flown to the United States, where he was assigned to the White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico, as technical adviser, and to Fort Bliss. Texas, as technical director of its missile project.

FDC with a picture of German scientists recruited to the US under Operation Paperclip.

As part of a U.S. military operation, known as Operation Paperclip (so-called because the Secretary of State used paperclips to attach to the files of those who were selected), 500 German rocket scientists, along with plans and test vehicles, were scooped up from defeated Germany and sent to America where they were installed at Fort Bliss, Texas. There they worked on rockets for the U.S. Army, including launching the captured German V-2 rockets to conduct test flights and experiments at White Sands Proving Ground. This team of rocket experts spent five years at Fort Bliss before being transferred to Huntville's Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

Signed by Von Braun's rocket team member, Dieter Grau.
Signed by Von Braun's rocket team member, Ernst Stuhlinger.
Signed by Von Braun's rocket team member, Georg von Tiesenhausen.
Signed by Von Braun's rocket team member, Konrad Dannenberg.
Signed by Von Braun's rocket team member, Oscar Holderer.
Signed by Von Braun's rocket team member, Walter Jacobi.
Signed by Von Braun's rocket team member, Werner Dahm.
In 1960, Von Braun's rocket development team was transferred from the Army to the newly established NASA and received a mandate to build the giant Saturn rockets. Accordingly, von Braun became director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle. The Saturn rockets, which first took men to the moon in 1969, were the direct descendants of the V2 and were engineered by Wernher von Braun and many members of the same rocket team.

Photo: Wernher von Braun (center), with Maj. Gen. Frank S. Besson, Chief of Army Transportation (left) and Maj. Gen. August Schomburg (right), at ceremonies transferring the Saturn transport barge, a 180-foot barge built to transport the Saturn launch vehicle from MSFC to Cape Canaveral by water, to the Civilian Space Agency on 13 Dec 1960.