Archived Lot

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Date of Auction: 17th February 2021

Sold for £22,000

Estimate: £2,000 - £3,000

Sold by Order of the Family

‘He was one of America’s greatest intelligence officers’
John Barron, espionage expert, author of KGB: Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents

‘A legendary figure in Langley’
Die Weltwoche
newspaper, Zurich, Switzerland
An outstanding and important United States of America, Central Intelligence Agency Distinguished Intelligence Medal group awarded to legendary veteran C.I.A. officer J. R. Fees, who, from the early 1960s, served undercover in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East; organised and managed secret intelligence operations from Washington and three continents, including a number of covert operations; and commanded major paramilitary operations in various International locations. As personal adviser to President Reagan on sensitive terrorism issues, he conducted top-secret missions to Lebanon and elsewhere in a bid to free American hostages, and most notably was also responsible for the secret acquisition and delivery to the U.S. of the Soviets’ most advanced frontline fighter plane at the time

i) United States of America, Distinguished Intelligence Medal, mounted in a specially-designed gatefold glazed display frame together with the Central Intelligence Agency award certificate, dated 10 June 1980 and signed by then-Director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Stansfield Turner, and Central Intelligence Agency citation, the outer cover of the frame with an original scenic, Middle Eastern lithograph by the artist David Roberts

ii) United States of America, Intelligence Medal of Merit, mounted in a specially-designed gatefold glazed display frame together with the Central Intelligence Agency award certificate, dated 21 June 1974 and signed by then-Director of Central Intelligence, William Colby, and Central Intelligence Agency citation, the outer cover of the frame with an original scenic, Middle Eastern lithograph by the artist David Roberts

iii) United States of America, Intelligence Medal of Merit, mounted in a specially-designed gatefold glazed display frame together with the Central Intelligence Agency award certificate, dated 28 August 1964 and signed by then-Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone, and Central Intelligence Agency citation, the outer cover of the frame with an original scenic, Middle Eastern lithograph by the artist David Roberts, minor crack to corner of one of the glass frames, otherwise generally extremely fine (lot) £2,000-£3,000

Footnote

The United States Distinguished Intelligence Medal is awarded by the Central Intelligence Agency for ‘performance of outstanding services or for achievement of a distinctly exceptional nature in a duty or responsibility’. The (lesser) Intelligence Medal of Merit is likewise awarded by the Central Intelligence Agency for ‘performance of especially meritorious service or for achievement conspicuously above normal duties’.
To quote a reference article on these medals: ‘CIA medals are often referred to as “jock strap medals” since they are often awarded secretly (due to the classification level of the respective operation) and cannot be displayed, or on occasion, even acknowledged publicly.’
In line with above, the recipient had had his three awards with their citations, individually mounted in specially-designed gatefold, gold-leaf frames. The outer frames each with an original scenic, Middle Eastern lithograph by the well-known artist David Roberts. Therefore, on looking at each of the hung pictures, one would be no wiser of their inside content unless they were opened up to reveal the C.I.A. medals and citations. Please note that the medals have not been removed from their frames during the cataloguing process and it is assumed that they are the original issues.


Distinguished Intelligence Medal, awarded 10 June 1980.
The citation states: ‘In recognition of his outstanding contribution during an overseas assignment. The intelligence yield gain which occurred because of Mr. Fees’ leadership, judgment and devotion to duty has been and continues to be of significant value to the United States Government. Mr. Fees made many contributions during his service with the Central Intelligence Agency but his exemplary leadership during this particular overseas experience furthered the direct interests of the United States and crowned a career of distinguished Federal Service.’


Intelligence Medal of Merit, awarded 21 June 1974.
The citation states: ‘For the performance of outstanding services at a time of Middle East upheaval, terrorism, war and oil politics. Through organizational and managerial acumen and leadership, Mr. Fees established a counter-terrorist program which permitted the timely and effective utilization of intelligence on terrorists. He organized and directed an effective 24-hour task force to meet the exigencies for intelligence during the Middle East war, and, at its conclusion, his imagination and managerial skills successfully coped with a new and uncharted operational challenge of providing intelligence on the oil politics. As a skillful and efficient leader Mr. Fees’ accomplishments have reflected much credit upon himself and the Central Intelligence Agency.’


Intelligence Medal of Merit, awarded 28 August 1964.
The citation states: ‘For outstanding performance of duty under hazardous physical and operational conditions. As chief of a one-man station in a country torn by continuous guerrilla warfare and despite the massive presence of unfriendly forces, Mr. Fees single-handedly provided excellent coverage of priority intelligence targets and recruited important intelligence assets. His courage, initiative, sound judgment, and accomplishment earned him the strong commendation of the Chief of the United States Mission and reflect great credit on himself and the Central Intelligence Agency.’


James Richard Fees was born in Fairbury, Nebraska on 21 September 1931. Attending Gonzaga Prep, he graduated in 1949 and went on to the University Notre Dame. However, in September 1953, with the Korean War still ongoing, he was drafted into service in the US Army Signal Corps. After 2 years service at Camp Gordon, Augusta, Georgia, he was discharged, allowing him to return to university and graduate. During his military service, he had been spotted by a clerical recruiter for the Central Intelligence Agency and was offered a position at the C.I.A.'s top secret Directorate of Science and Technology. Arranging to continue his studying by taking night school, he graduated in September 1956 and took the required tests for him to become a Junior Officer in the C.I.A. Passing the tests, in early 1957, he began the Junior Officer training program and, once this completed, he was assigned to study Arabic full-time at Georgetown University’s School of Languages and Linguistics. On completion of his language course, Fees was sent overseas.

The following being a brief summary of his service:
‘Jim served in the Agency at home and abroad until 1980 in a distinguished and adventurous career. During those twenty-three years, Jim served as Chief of Station on three different continents and ran many important operations, including the secret acquisition and delivery to the U.S. of the Soviets’ most advanced frontline fighter plane at the time, an Egyptian Air Force MiG-23. This aircraft was the first to be acquired by the U.S. government as part of a secret training program known as “Constant Peg”to familiarize American pilots with Soviet aircraft and how to fly against them in combat. Jim recruited policy-level agents, penetrated intelligence and counter-intelligence services and provided one President with advanced intelligence of a secret attack plan by one Nation against another, enabling the U.S. to prevent another Middle Eastern war.’


As a General rank officer, Fees commanded major paramilitary operations in various international locations and had the ‘adventure’ of being one of two targets, along with the American ambassador, of a Qadhafi assassination plot. Following his resignation from the C.I.A. in 1980, Fees was personal adviser to President Reagan on sensitive terrorism issues and hostage situations and was asked to conduct top secret missions to Lebanon and elsewhere in a bid to free American hostages.

Two acknowledged examples of Fees’ work are as follows:
‘From the perspective of CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Nasser’s involvement in the Yemen was seen as the entrée for Soviet subversion throughout the region, an argument the CIA’s Middle East Division, James Critchfield, tried to impress upon White. According to Bower, Washington’s recognition of the Y.A.R. allowed the C.I.A. to post an officer, James Fees, to Taiz’z, where he operated under the cover of a humanitarian relief worker. Through bribery he was able to provide Langley with a complete Egyptian Order of Battle while decrypts of Egyptian air operations produced by the National Security Agency proved that Soviet pilots were flying TU16s in combat over the Yemen.’ (
Britain and the Yemen Civil War 1962-1965 refers).

Later: ‘As part of the new relationship between the United States and Egypt, Kissinger and Sadat secretly agreed that the C.I.A. would provide Egypt with special assistance on sensitive issues, primarily concerning Sadat’s personal security. In Spring 1974 a new CIA Station Chief, James Fees, arrived in Cairo. Having vast experience in Middle Eastern affairs, which included the CIA’s covert paramilitary assistance to the Kurds’ struggle in Iraq, Fees was personally selected for the sensitive position by Kissinger. Much of Kissinger’s Middle East policy now rested on his ability to build trust with Sadat in order to convince him to move Egypt out of the Soviet camp and turn it into an American ally. Fees played an important role in a number of secret aspects of this mission, including laying the groundwork for President Nixon’s official visit in Egypt in June 1974.’ (The Angel, The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, refers)

In later years, Fees served as Chairman of an international trading group and was involved in the Republican Party, serving as International Chairman of Republicans Abroad during the 1988 election of President George H. W. Bush. On retirement, he wrote two well-received spy novels, under the nom de plume Eric Jordan: ‘Operation Hebron’ (2000) and ‘The Man’ (2012). He died at his home in Hasselt, Belgium on 6 February 2017.


To be sold with the following archive:

a) United States of America, Central Intelligence Agency Certificate of Merit, dated 5 April 1979 and signed by then-Director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Stansfield Turner; together with the Central Intelligence Agency citation, which states: ‘In recognition of sustained superior performance since November 1976. His support and demonstrated professionalism have contributed significantly to an ongoing operation of great value to the Intelligence Community. Mr. Fees’ dedication to duty reflects credit on him and the Central Intelligence Agency.’, both contained in a separate CIA-embossed presentation folder.

b) United States of America, Central Intelligence Agency certificate, ‘In recognition of Ten years honorable service with the Central Intelligence Agency’ dated 18 September 1965 and signed by then-Director of Central Intelligence, William Raborn.

c) United States of America, Central Intelligence Agency certificate, ‘In recognition of Fifteen years honorable service with the Central Intelligence Agency’ dated 18 September 1970 and signed by then-Director of Central Intelligence, Richard M Helms.

d) United States of America, Central Intelligence Agency certificate, ‘In recognition of Twenty years honorable service with the Central Intelligence Agency’ dated 18 September 1975 and signed by then-Director of Central Intelligence, William Colby.

e) United States of America Diplomatic Passport (Green issue). Issued to James Richard Fees on 10 March 1960, as ‘An Assistant Attaché to the Embassy of the United States of America at Khartoum, Sudan. Notes United States address as ‘Washington’ and foreign address as ‘Khartoum, Sudan’, this crossed out and replaced with ‘Taiz, Yemen Arab Republic’. Passport fully filled with a very large number of stamps, mainly Middle East and North Africa, including multiple for Aden, Ethiopia and Taiz, up until late 1965.

f) United States of America Diplomatic Passport (Black issue). Issued to James Richard Fees on 27 October 1966, as ‘Abroad on a Diplomatic Assignment for the United States Government’. Notes United States address as ‘Washington’ and foreign address as American Embassy, Cairo. This again fully filled with stamps from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Libya, Greece, London, etc., dating up until late 1979.

g) Egyptian driving permit, dated 1978.

h) Republican Presidential Task Force certificate, certifying that at the behest of President Reagan, an American flag was dedicated in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol for Mr James Richard Fees.

i) Large photograph of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, signed and dedicated to Jim Fees by the President and First Lady and another of President Reagan.

j) Large photograph of Jim Fees and George Bush, signed and dedicated to Jim Fees by the President and another of President Bush, again signed and dedicated to Jim Fees.

k) Smaller black and white photograph of Jim Fees and President Gerald Ford.

l) Two photographs of Jim Fees next to the cockpit of the Egyptian MiG fighter he secured and another of him in Moscow after the end of the Cold War.

m) A copy of a 1985 letter by the Director of Central Intelligence, regarding Fees present employment, travel messages and notification of Personnel from the 1960s and a letter from Nancy Reagan, dated 24 November 1987, thanking Fees for his continued special friendship.

n) Several spy and espionage related books.

Please note that this lot is not suitable for shipping, but can be hand delivered within mainland Britain by prior arrangement with Christopher Mellor-Hill.