U.S. Memorial Day commemorations in Belgium | Each year, the U.S. Embassy to the Kingdom of Belgium observes Memorial Day by participating in commemoration ceremonies to honor the more than 14,000 American soldiers buried in Belgium in World War One and World War Two cemeteries.
Photo by US Embassy Brussels/FB
US Embassy Romania
US Embassy Bucharest, Romania | Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Dean Thompson at the occasion of Memorial Day Ceremony. Bucharest, May 22, 2015 (Lucian Crusoveanu / Public Diplomacy Office)
On Friday, May 1, AFSA will hold its 82nd Annual Memorial Ceremony, which honors Foreign Service personnel who have given their lives while serving their country overseas.
The plaques on which these individuals’ names are inscribed serve as a powerful reminder of the work of Foreign Service personnel who conduct American diplomacy abroad, often under dangerous and difficult conditions. The Memorial Ceremony is our opportunity to give these individuals the recognition that they are due.
We are honored to have Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy scheduled to preside over this event, along with AFSA President Robert J. Silverman, who will serve as host for the solemn occasion.
The Memorial Ceremony will begin at 10:20 a.m. EST in the C Street Lobby of the Department of State. (Note that outside guests must arrive no later than 9:30 a.m.) The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Department of State’s BNET channel. We welcome members of the Foreign Service to attend the ceremony and to enter through the 21st street entrance. If the lobby is full, the ceremony can be watched via BNET or the live simulcast inside the Dean Acheson Auditorium. We hope that colleagues stationed around the world will watch the live BNET broadcast, as well. As with other AFSA events, a recording will be posted on the AFSA website (www.afsa.org/video) shortly after the ceremony.
This year, we will be honoring the lives and work of David Collins and Rayda Nadal.
David Collins, 54, was a financial management officer at Consulate General Lagos, Nigeria. Before joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Collins worked as an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God for more than 20 years, serving in many different capacities such as youth minister and business administrator. Mr. Collins also worked for the Compassion Ministry at the Convoy of Hope in Brussels. He joined the Foreign Service in 2009 and served as an FMO in Pretoria before he arrived in Lagos. There, he and his wife participated in an embassy group outing to the beach on April 28, 2013. Swimming in the ocean, the two were caught in an undertow; struggling to save his wife, David managed to push her successfully to higher ground, but was unable to save himself. When he was brought to shore, he still had a pulse, but died during the 90 minutes it took to get emergency medical treatment. His family has requested that donations in David’s name be made to Convoy of Hope in Springfield, Missouri. Information on Convoy of Hope can be found at www.convoyofhope.org.
Rayda Nadal, 37, was a Foreign Service specialist serving at Embassy Moscow. She joined the Foreign Service in 2008. Ms. Nadal served as an office management specialist in Kuwait City, Kabul, Nassau and New Delhi. She worked for Ambassador Capricia Marshall under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Office of Protocol in Washington, D.C. While in Moscow, Ms. Nadal sustained injuries in a gas explosion in her apartment on May 22, 2014. She was transported for treatment to a hospital in Sweden where she died on May 26, 2014. Her family requests that donations in Rayda’s name be made to the Harriet Tubman Emergency Shelter in Washington, D.C. Information on the shelter can be found at www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/HarrietTubmanShelter.
David Collins and Rayda Nadal affected the lives of others through their dedication and passion. Please join us on May 1, as we commemorate their lives and legacies.
Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, U.S. Embassy Singapore (2011)
U.S. Embassy Canada
Hundreds of fire and rescue workers and their supporters participated in the 9-11 Memorial Ride. Here, riders arrive at the Peace Arch. Photo via US Embassy Canada/Flickr (2011)
U.S. Embassy Santiago, Chile
The Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S Embassy in Santiago, Stephen M. Liston, presided over an official ceremony of remembrance for the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania occurred on 09/11/2001 (US Embassy Chile – 2013)
U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, Israel
The U.S. Embassy, Keren Kayemet Leisrael (KKL-JNF and KKL-USA), the city of Jerusalem and families of victims, gathered at the 9/11 Living Memorial site at Emek Arazim, Jerusalem Hills Park to commemorate 10 years to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Photo by US Embassy Tel Aviv/FB (2011)
U.S. Embassy Beijing, China
September 11th Ceremony, 9/11/11 via US Embassy Beijing/FB (2011)
U.S. Embassy Canberra, Australia
10th Anniversary of September 11, U.S. Embassy Canberra, Australia. (2011) (Official U.S. Embassy photo by Adam P. Wilson)
U.S. Embassy Wellington, New Zealand
10th Anniversary of 9-11. Commemoration Service, US Embassy Wellington, New Zealand (2011)
Christchurch, New Zealand
9/11 Memorial Service, Christchurch, New Zealand, September 11, 2010
U.S. Consulate General Vancouver
A memorial plaque thanking the people of British Columbia for the assistance they extended to Americans and others on and after September 11, 2001. ‘In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 the United States Consulate General in Vancouver, on behalf of the people of the United States, wishes to thank the people of British Columbia for their support and generosity following the events of that day. Canadians received diverted passengers unable to land at their U.S. destinations, opening not only their airports, but also their homes and hearts.’ Plaque Presentation at Vancouver International Airport YVR Managing Director Larry Berg with U.S. Consul General Anne Callaghan on September 11, 2011.
U.S. Embassy Chisinau, Moldova
Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Eugen Carpov, laid flowers at US Embassy Chisinau, Moldova in memory of the victims of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack. (Photo via gov.md 2013)
U.S. Embassy Yaounde, Cameroon
Embassy Yaounde Pauses to Remember 9/11 Colonel Morgan plays the bagpipes during the ceremony. [Photo by U.S. Embassy Yaounde] 2013
U.S. Embassy Kuwait, Kuwait
U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, Deborah K. Jones and Brig. Gens. William Frink and James Walton, commander, 311th Sustainment and 335th Signal Commands, lead over 500 participants during the Freedom Walk held at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, Sept 11, 2008.
U.S. Embassy Paris, France
Ceremony at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris, September 11, 2011 Drapeau américain sur la Place du Trocadéro. Photo P.Maulavé U.S. Embassy Paris, France – 2011
U.S. Embassy Tokyo, Japan
(September 10, 2014) Flowers at a memorial for the Japanese victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, participated in the memorial at the Mizuho Bank. The victims were working in the offices of Fuji Bank (now incorporated into the Mizuho Financial Group) in the World Trade Center in New York City. [State Department photo by William Ng/Public Domain]
On the 40th anniversary of their deaths, the U.S. embassy residence in Nicosia is named the “Rodger Davies Residence” after Ambassador Davies who was killed on August 19, 1974 and the embassy personnel lounge is named “Antoinette Varnava Lounge” after the local employee killed in the same attack.
On August 19th, 1974, recently appointed Ambassador to Cyprus, Rodger Davies, was shot dead during a Greek Cypriot protest outside the U.S. Embassy. The demonstration brought out over 300 people who were protesting against the U.S.’s failure to prevent the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the island the week before. Davies was seeking shelter in a hallway at the embassy building in Nicosia when a sniper struck him in the chest. When Antoinette Varnava—a Maronite consular employee—rushed to his aid, she too was struck dead, with a bullet to the head.
[it was the] morning of August 19th, . A sunny day, cloudless skies, as it almost always is in Cyprus, and I think it was around 9:30 or 10:00, I don’t remember. [You could hear a rumble], a large number of people. I [had] only heard that once before in my life, and that was when Ann and I were in Adana, Turkey, and the consulate was stoned by a mob. I think I mentioned that in an earlier session, 1966 that was. You never forget that once you hear it. And I heard it, and everybody else heard it. We thought the demonstration had been approved by the police or whomever some ways away.
[It was] a large crowd. It wasn’t a mob yet. I think the focus of the discussion was criticism of the Americans for what had happened to them, what had been done to them, what they had suffered. And somehow, and I don’t know how because I wasn’t there, the crowd started moving toward the embassy. At this point, I think it gained a lot of hangers-on and other elements [which] might not have been in the original demonstration at all. By the time it reached the embassy, which was in about 10 minutes, they were throwing rocks and other things at the chancery. So, we immediately had the Marines and everybody else shove the wooden shutters so the glass would be protected, close the gate, get the teargas canisters ready and prepare to stave off what we thought was going to be an unfettered demonstration, but that was about all.[…]
The Ambassador’s office was shuttered and he and his secretaries came into the central hallway. The rest of us were in the central hallway on the second floor. The FSNs were there. It was very crowded. The air conditioning held up for us, so it wasn’t too hot, but it was a little sticky. [Our] offices which had been on either side of that hallway, particularly [those which] were facing the front, were sort of exposed to the brunt of the mob’s wrath, we thought. At some point, shooting started. I remember hearing pops or whatever, but did not think anything of it because I didn’t know what it was, and I’d never heard shots fired in anger. I don’t know how many shots were fired. Several pierced the water tanks on the roof because they were leaking. Again, there was no central direction, put your hands down and put your hands behind your head and hunker down. We were milling around.
[…] Q: Do you think the shots were fired at the patio at the top of the residence because they had seen the Marines up there doing the teargas?
WILLIAMS: It’s the same time the shots were fired at the Ambassador’s office. I think there were two shooters. There would have had to be because the ones that came in from the side [his office], were way over there, and this shot was up here. And I always thought, and my memory’s a little hazy on some of this, but the rounds that came into the office of Ambassador Davies were concentrated in the area of his office where his desk was. The rounds that came into the other side of the building where the residence was were concentrated on the patio, and I think some at the window of his bedroom. I think that’s right, though I’m not sure of it. So whether or not they fired at the patio because they saw a Marine or because they thought the ambassador was up there or because they saw me or whatever, I really don’t know. But there were a lot of bullets that came up there. I always thought it was an effort to get the Ambassador because of the way the bullets had come in. By sheer dumb luck they did get him. It was a blind bullet came in through the shutter, the glass and the partition in his office and came down into the corridor where he was standing and they shot him through the heart.
He was [in the central hall], and he was dead before he hit the ground. Another bullet came in and ripped off the top of the skull of Toni Varnava, a Maronite local in the Administration section, and she was dead instantly. A steel jacket of one of the bullets that came in landed up in the thigh of Jay Graham, the economic officer. Those were the only causalities from the rounds. One of the older locals may have had a heart attack. Everybody else was intact but scared to death.
[Varnava] had [gone to Ambassador Davies’ aid]. She had been very close to him and she saw him fall. I was not down there, but those who were say she saw him fall and bent down to catch him and as she did her head was ripped open by the bullet, so they both fell.
The windows were appropriately shuttered. So, the bullets did not have to go through significant physical barriers to get to the Americans in the central corridor. I have no way of knowing whether the shooter or shooters knew that we would be huddled in that corridor as a safe place, but the wooden shutter over the window, the single pane of glass and the partition on the door of the wall of the office were not very thick.
It was a blind shot that got the Ambassador, no question about that. Toni was an incidental casualty, God rest her soul, and Jay Graham was also unlucky with that minor wound in his thigh.[…]
[The shooters] were on the periphery of the crowd in both cases. One of them was wearing the uniform of a Greek Cypriot policeman as I recall, although the weapon he used was not in the standard arms of the Greek Cypriot police. They were in the crowd on the periphery, but not in adjacent buildings. There was some more shooting of handguns I guess. I think though, soon after the heavy stuff came in and killed the ambassador, they couldn’t know at that time they killed the Ambassador, and hit the side where Mike and I and the Marines were, soon thereafter as I recall, maybe 20 or 30 minutes, time was really very strange as experienced in that day, the crowd started to disperse. Either its anger had been spent or the Greek Cypriot police had started to come in sufficient numbers to control it. Because what the Greek Cypriot authorities had approved as a demonstration had quickly gotten way out of hand and had to be stopped. I don’t know who was calling, our phones were still intact, I don’t know who called whom. I certainly was not calling anybody because I could still barely see, Mike wasn’t.
I remember I knelt down to Rodger and I just said, “Oh, Mr. Ambassador,” and I couldn’t say anything else because he was clearly gone. I think it had gone right through his heart so there was no question about saving him.
[…] Q: Ambassador Davies did not have any family of his own at post?
WILLIAMS: He did. Dana is the daughter and John is her younger brother, and they had briefly come to post with Rodger and Ms. T, the family cat. Rodger’s wife had died tragically after a long struggle with brain cancer just that year. And so one of the reasons he wanted to go [to] Cyprus was to get away from Washington and the intense environment he’d been working and living in there, and also get away from, I think, some of the memories of Sally and what she’d gone through in the last years of her life.
Nicosia was going to be a way for the family to replenish itself, just relax and recover a bit. And tragically it did not work out that way. So John and Dana had been in the convoy that went south to Akrotiri [British Airbase in Cyprus] in late July and were in Beirut, and had to be told what had happened to their father on August 19th.
On 23 October 1983, at around 6:22 a.m., a truck laden with the equivalent of over 12,000 pounds of TNT crashed through the perimeter of the compound of the U.S. contingent of the Multinational Force at Beirut International Airport, Beirut, Lebanon, penetrated the Battalion Landing Team Headquarters building and detonated. The force of the explosion destroyed the building resulting in the deaths of 241 U.S. military personnel: 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers, making this incident the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Photo via Beirut Memorial
Photo via Beirut Memorial
The Report of the DoD Commission on Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act, October 23, 1983 also known as the Long Commission after Admiral Robert L. J. Long who chaired the committee, is available here via fas.org. The following are the names of the people we lost in that attack. (via US Embassy Beirut).
CPL Terry W. Abbott, USMC
LCPL Clemon S. Alexander, USMC
PFC John R. Allman, USMC
CPL Moses J. Arnold JR., USMC
PFC Charles K. Bailey, USMC
LCPL Nicholas Baker, USMC
LCPL Johnsen Banks, USMC
LCPL Richard E. Barrett, USMC
HM1 Ronny K. Bates, USN
1STSGT David L. Battle, USMC
LCPL James R. Baynard, USMC
HN Jesse W. Beamon, USN
GYSGT Alvin Belmer, USMC
PFC Stephen Bland, USMC
SGT Richard L. Blankenship, USMC
LCPL John W. Blocker, USMC
CAPT Joseph J. Boccia JR., USMC
CPL Leon Bohannon JR., USMC
SSGT John R. Bohnet JR., USMC
CPL John J. Bonk JR., USMC
LCPL Jeffrey L. Boulos, USMC
CPL David R. Bousum, USMC
1STLT John N. Boyett, USMC
CPL Anthony Brown, USMC
LCPL David W. Brown, USMC
LCPL Bobby S. Buchanan JR., USMC
CPL John B. Buckmaster, USMC
PFC William F. Burley, USMC
HN Jimmy R. Cain, USN
CPL Paul L. Callahan, USMC
SGT Mecot E. Camara, USMC
PFC Bradly J. Campus, USMC
LCPL Johnnie D. Ceasar, USMC
PFC Marc L. Cole, USMC
SP4 Marcus A. Coleman, USA
PFC Juan M. Comas, USMC
SGT Robert A. Conley, USMC
CPL Charles D. Cook, USMC
LCPL Curtis J. Cooper, USMC
LCPL Johnny L. Copeland, USMC
CPL Bert D. Corcoran, USMC
LCPL David L. Cosner, USMC
SGT Kevin P. Coulman, USMC
LCPL Brett A. Croft, USMC
LCPL Rick R. Crudale, USMC
LCPL Kevin P. Custard, USMC
LCPL Russell E. Cyzick, USMC
MAJ Andrew L. Davis, USMC
PFC Sidney S. Decker, USMC
PFC Michael J. Devlin, USMC
LCPL Thomas A. Dibenedetto, USMC
PVT Nathaniel G. Dorsey, USMC
SGTMAJ Frederick B. Douglass, USMC
CPL Timothy J. Dunnigan, USMC
HN Bryan L. Earle, USN
MSGT Roy L. Edwards, USMC
HM3 William D. Elliot JR., USN
LCPL Jesse Ellison, USMC
PFC Danny R. Estes, USMC
PFC Sean F. Estler, USMC
HM3 James E. Faulk, USN
PFC Richard A. Fluegel, USMC
CPL Steven M. Forrester, USMC
HM3 William B. Foster JR., USN
CPL Michael D. Fulcher, USMC
LCPL Benjamin E. Fuller, USMC
LCPL Michael S. Fulton, USMC
CPL William Gaines JR., USMC
LCPL Sean R. Gallagher, USMC
LCPL David B. Gander, USMC
LCPL George M. Gangur, USMC
SSGT Leland E. Gann, USMC
LCPL Randall J. Garcia, USMC
SSGT Ronald J. Garcia, USMC
LCPL David D. Gay, USMC
SSGT Harold D. Ghumm, USMC
LCPL Warner Gibbs JR., USMC
CPL Timothy R. Giblin, USMC
ETC Michael W. Gorchinski, USN
LCPL Richard J. Gordon, USMC
LCPL Harold F. Gratton, USMC
SGT Robert B. Greaser, USMC
LCPL Davin M. Green, USMC
LCPL Thomas A. Hairston, USMC
SGT Freddie Haltiwanger JR., USMC
LCPL Virgil D. Hamilton, USMC
SGT Gilbert Hanton, USMC
LCPL William Hart, USMC
CAPT Michael S. Haskell, USMC
PFC Michael A. Hastings, USMC
CAPT Paul A. Hein, USMC
LCPL Douglas E. held, USMC
PFC Mark A. Helms, USMC
LCPL Ferrandy D. Henderson, USMC
SSGT John Hendrickson, USMC
MSGT Matilde Hernandez JR., USMC
CPL Stanley G. Hester, USMC
GYSGT Donald W. Hildreth, USMC
SSGT Richard H. Holberton, USMC
HM3 Robert S. Holland, USN
LCPL Bruce A. Hollingshead, USMC
PFC Melvin D. Holmes, USMC
CPL Bruce L. Howard, USMC
LT John R. Hudson, USN
CPL Terry L. Hudson, USMC
LCPL Lyndon J. Hue, USMC
2NDLT Maurice E. Hukill, USMC
LCPL Edward F. Iacovino JR., USMC
PFC John J. Ingalls, USMC
WO1 Paul G. Innocenzi III, USMC
LCPL James J. Jackowski, USMC
LCPL Jeffrey W. James, USMC
LCPL Nathaniel W. Jenkins, USMC
HM2 Michael H. Johnson, USN
CPL Edward A. Johnston, USMC
LCPL Steven Jones, USMC
PFC Thomas A. Julian, USMC
HM2 Marion E. Kees, USN
SGT Thomas C. Keown, USMC
GYSGT Edward E. Kimm, USMC
LCPL Walter V. Kingsley, USMC
SGT Daniel S. Kluck, USA
LCPL James C. Knipple, USMC
LCPL Freas H. Kreischer III, USMC
LCPL Keith J. Laise, USMC
LCPL Thomas G. Lamb, USMC
LCPL James J. Langon IV, USMC
SGT Michael S. Lariviere, USMC
CPL Steven B. Lariviere, USMC
MSGT Richard L. Lemnah, USMC
CPL David A. Lewis, USMC
SGT Val S. Lewis, USMC
CPL Joseph R. Livingston, USMC
LCPL Paul D. Lyon JR., USMC
MAJ John W. Macroglou, USMC
CPL Samuel Maitland, USMC
SSGT Charlie R. Martin, USMC
PFC Jack L. Martin, USMC
CPL David S. Massa, USMC
SGT Michael R. Massman, USMC
PVT Joseph J. Mattacchione, USMC
LCPL John McCall, USMC
SGT James E. McDonough, USMC
LCPL Timothy R. McMahon, USMC
LCPL Timothy D. McNeely, USMC
HM2 George N. McVicker II, USN
PFC Louis Melendez, USMC
SGT Richard H. Menkins II, USMC
CPL Michael D. Mercer, USMC
LCPL Ronald W. Meurer, USMC
HM3 Joseph P. Milano, USN
CPL Joseph P. Moore, USMC
LCPL Richard A. Morrow, USMC
LCPL John F. Muffler, USMC
CPL Alex Munoz, USMC
CPL Harry D. Myers, USMC
1STLT David J. Nairn, USMC
LCPL Luis A. Nava, USMC
CPL John A. Olson, USMC
PFC Robert P. Olson, USMC
CWO3 Richard C. Ortiz, USMC
PFC Jeffrey B. Owen, USMC
CPL Joseph A. Owens, USMC
CPL Connie Ray Page, USMC
LCPL Ulysses Parker, USMC
LCPL Mark W. Payne, USMC
GYSGT John L. Pearson, USMC
PFC Thomas S. Perron, USMC
SGT John A. Phillips JR., USMC
HMC George W. Piercy, USN
1STLT Clyde W. Plymel, USMC
SGT William H. Pollard, USMC
SGT Rafael I. Pomalestorres, USMC
CPL Victor M. Prevatt, USMC
PFC James C. Price, USMC
SSGT Patrick K. Prindeville, USMC
PFC Eric A. Pulliam, USMC
HM3 Diomedes J. Quirante, USN
LCPL David M. Randolph, USMC
GYSGT Charles R. Ray, USMC
PFC Rui A. Relvas, USMC
PFC Terrance L. Rich, USMC
LCPL Warren Richardson, USMC
SGT Juan C. Rodriguez, USMC
LCPL Louis J. Rotondo, USMC
LCPL Guillermo Sanpedro JR., USMC
LCPL Michael C. Sauls, USMC
1STLT Charles J. Schnorf, USMC
PFC Scott L. Schultz, USMC
CAPT Peter J. Scialabba, USMC
CPL Gary R. Scott, USMC
CPL Ronald L. Shallo, USMC
CPL Thomas A. Shipp, USMC
LCPL Jerryl D. Shropshire, USMC
LCPL James F. Silvia, USMC
LCPL Larry H. Simpson JR., USMC
LCPL Stanley J. Sliwinski, USMC
LCPL Kirk H. Smith, USMC
SSGT Thomas G. Smith, USMC
CAPT Vincent L. Smith, USMC
LCPL Edward Soares, USMC
1STLT William S. Sommerhof, USMC
LCPL Michael C. Spaulding, USMC
LCPL John W. Spearing, USMC
LCPL Stephen E. Spencer, USMC
LCPL Bill J. Stelpflug, USMC
LCPL Horace R. Stephens, USMC
PFC Craig S. Stockton, USMC
LCPL Jeffrey G. Stokes, USMC
LCPL Thomas D. Stowe, USMC
LCPL Eric D. Sturghill, USMC
LCPL Devon L. Sundar, USMC
LT James F. Surch JR., USN
CPL Dennis A. Thompson, USMC
SSGT Thomas P. Thorstad, USMC
PFC Stephen D. Tingley, USMC
LCPL John J. Tishmack, USMC PFC
Donald H. Vallone JR., USMC
CPL Eric R. Walker, USMC
CPL Leonard W. Walker, USMC
CPL Eric G. Washington, USMC
CPL Obrian Weekes, USMC
1STSGT Tandy W. Wells, USMC
LCPL Steven B. Wentworth, USMC
SGT Allen D. Wesley, USMC
GYSGT Lloyd D. West, USMC
SSGT John R. Weyl, USMC
CPL Burton D. Wherland JR., USMC
LCPL Dwayne W. Wigglesworth, USMC
LCPL Rodney J. Williams, USMC
GYSGT Scipio Williams JR., USMC
LCPL Johnny A. Williamson, USMC
CAPT Walter E. Wint JR., USMC
CAPT William E. Winter, USMC
CPL John E. Wolfe, USMC
1STLT Donald E. Woollett, USMC
HM3 David E. Worley, USN
PFC Craig L. Wyche, USMC
SFC James G. Yarber, USA
SGT Jeffrey D. Young, USMC
1STLT William A. Zimmerman
In a ceremony in Nairobi today, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec and the U.S. embassy community honored the victims of the August 7, 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy. Before laying a wreath at the memorial obelisk on the Embassy grounds, the U.S. marines presented colors, the Ambassador and a Kenyan staff member of the Embassy shared thoughts on the tragedy and its meaning for Kenyans and Americans, and the hundreds of staff members of the Embassy observed a moment of silence in remembrance of those killed and injured.
Catherine Kamau (Left) and George Mimba (Second Left) both locally employed staff from the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Ambassador Robert F Godec (Second Right) and Bill Lay (Right) at the Memorial Park. (Photo via US Embassy Nairobi)
And because there were too many dead, and too many wounded, we should revisit how we got there. Also of particular note, the disaster tourists and photo opportunists:
It was one of the most horrific events in U.S. diplomatic history. On August 7, 1998, between 10:30 am and 10:40 am local time, suicide bombers parked trucks loaded with explosives outside the embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi and almost simultaneously detonated them. In Nairobi, approximately 212 people were killed, and an estimated 4,000 wounded; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85. Prudence Bushnell, a career Foreign Service Officer, was Ambassador to Kenya at the time and relates to Stu Kennedy of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training the harrowing events of those days.
BUSHNELL: In the ’90s, President Clinton felt compelled to give the American people their peace dividend, while Congress thought that now that the Cold War was over there was no need for any significant funding of intelligence, foreign affairs or diplomacy. There were discussions about whether we needed embassies now that we had 24-hour news casts, e-mail, etc. Newt Gingrich and the Congress closed the federal government a couple of times. Agencies were starved of funding across the board. Needless to say, there was no money for security. Funding provided in the aftermath of the bombing of our embassy in Beirut in the ’80s that created new building standards for embassies and brought in greater numbers of diplomatic security officer dried up.
As an answer to lack of funding, State Department stopped talking about need. For example, when we had inadequate staff to fill positions, State eliminated the positions, so we no longer can talk about the need. If there’s no money for security, then let’s not talk about security needs. The fact of increasing concern at the embassy about crime and violence was irrelevant in Washington. So was the condition of our building.
When I returned to Washington on consultations in December of ’97, I was told point blank by the AF Executive Office to stop sending cables because people were getting very irritated with me. That really pushed up my blood pressure. Later, in the spring of ’98, for the first time in my career I was not asked for input into the “Needs Improvement” section of my performance evaluation. That’s always a sign! When I read the criticism that “she tends to overload the bureaucratic circuits,” I knew exactly what it referred to. Yes, the cables had been read, they just weren’t appreciated.
In the years since the bombing, I learned just out just how much I did not know about U.S. national security and law enforcement efforts against al Qaeda. The information was highly compartmentalized, on a “need to know” basis and clearly Washington did not think the US ambassador needed to know. So, while I was aware of the al Qaeda presence and various U.S. teams coming and going, I did not know, nor was I told, what they were learning. When the Kenyans finally broke up the cell in the spring of ’98, I figured “that was that.”
Once the Secretary and her entourage came and left, we received what I began to call the disaster tourists. Well meaning people from various parts of Washington who couldn’t do a thing to help us. In November I sent a cable to Washington requesting by name the people we wanted to visit. The response was “Now wait a minute, you’re complaining about the visitors who are coming and now you want others. You’re sending very mixed messages here.” They didn’t seem to understand the difference between those VIPs who could be part of the solution and those having their photographs taken in the remains of the embassy.
This Memorial Day we remember and honor two diplomats who were killed serving their country long before we gave terrorism its own acronym in our political discourse. On December 23, 1972, President Nixon appointed Ambassador Cleo Noel as U.S. Ambassador to Sudan. He would be the first full-fledged U.S. ambassador in Khartoum since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The outgoing Charge d’Affairs, George Curtis Moore was asked to stay on as Deputy Chief of Mission until Robert E. Fritts, the new DCM arrived in March.
On March 1, 1973 the Saudi Arabian Ambassador Abdullah al Malhouk held a farewell dinner for DCM Moore who had been in Sudan for the last three years. Around 7 pm that night, seven men from the Palestinian terrorist group Black September Organization attacked the embassy villaarmed with automatic weapons. On March 2, 1973, 26 hours after being taken hostages, Ambassador Noel and DCM Moore were executed by the terrorists.
“Cleo and I will die bravely and without tears as men should,” Curt Moore wrote in the closing sentence of his letter to his wife.*
Ambassador Noel’s wife, Lucille died of a stroke on Feb. 14, 2010 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. She was 91 years old. Mr. Moore’s wifeSarah Anne Stewart Moore who shared a 23 year career with her husband in the Foreign Service passed away in 2007 and is also buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The BSO demanded the release of Arab militants. President Nixon said in a March 2 news conference that the U.S. would “not pay blackmail.” Ambassador Noel, Moore, and the Belgian were allowed to write final letters to their wives; they were killed 12 hours later. Demands for a plane were rejected, but the terrorists surrendered after three days to Sudanese authorities and were later put on trial, but justice was not served. Robert E. Fritts recalls how he was brought in from Washington to replace Moore as DCM, how he helped reestablish morale among the distraught embassy staff, and the frustrating pursuit of justice against the BSO. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy in September 1999.
Foreign Affairs Oral History Project – Robert E. Fritts (Excerpt):
The embassy occupied the upper floors of a commercial office building adjoined by others on the main street. Because of the haboob [dust storm], power was out and also, I think, the Sudanese Government cut power to the Saudi embassy, and the area included us. I thus climbed five or six floors up the back steps, carrying my suitcase and my garment bag over my shoulder. The only lighting on the stairway was battery-operated dual emergency lights–very dim. I finally came to the floor where the embassy began. The administrative officer, Sandy Sanderson, was standing there with his glasses on a string hanging around his neck. I couldn’t quite see his face as he was back lighted by the emergency lamps, but I could tell he was crying. He said, “We’ve heard there was gunfire in the Saudi embassy. They may be dead. You’re in charge.”
My next thought was how could I be most useful? Others might behave differently, but I decided it was not to come in and take a high profile approach. I told Sanderson to remain in charge as he had been for the past two days, that I didn’t know the embassy, the staff, or even the city. Nor did I know Sudanese government officials, nor they me. The American embassy staff was very small: only a half-dozen American officers, two or three secretaries, all in shock and without rest. Most of our Sudanese FSNs [Foreign Service Nationals] were hunkered down at their homes. I decided the best thing I could do initially was just do whatever was helpful….
The Department and Embassy Khartoum were linked by a crude direct TTY [teletype] line that printed letter by letter. It was very slow and limited to only several sentences at a time. While talking with Sandy and others, I saw the TTY keyboard and small screen on a table with a chair in the corridor. It was unmanned and only glanced at intermittently when an officer happened to pass by. I knew how thirsty the Department was for information and its frustration with the dead time between questions and responses. So I said, “I’ll start with this.” Because of consultations, I knew who was who in the Department and thought I knew what they needed or would need. I manned the TTY for most of the next 36 hours. It became our embassy cockpit. It also freed up those who needed to be operational with the Foreign Ministry, the police, the Army, the media etc. I developed an increasingly in-depth dialogue with the Department, including sets of short evaluations, impressions, what next, etc. Versions were also being passed to Macomber, who was still in Cairo.
The haboob was still howling. They normally last hours; this one lasted three days. Even the following noon it was black. Dust and grit were everywhere, in your eyes and teeth. Every flat surface was layered. We were covered in gritty dust. The dim embassy lights were still battery powered. It was a scene from hell.
One human vignette I recall vividly is that the BSO operatives “permitted” Noel and Moore to write “last words” to their wives, who were together throughout at the residence. The murdered men’s notes, sealed in incongruously embossed Saudi embassy envelopes, were given to Sanderson by the Foreign Ministry. He asked me if I would deliver them? I said, “Sandy, I’ve never met Mrs. Noel and Mrs. Moore in my life. I’m even here as a live substitute for Moore. They’ve got enough to handle without factoring me in. You know them well, they know you. It’s better if you deliver the letters.” He left for the task in tears. He returned to say how appreciative the wives were for all everyone was doing, including me by name. And he commented that neither wife had shown any tears.
After much too long, the bodies were retrieved from the Saudi embassy basement, where they had been gunned down against a wall. Sandy identified them and he and Braun assisted in the preparation of the remains and putting them into the caskets that every embassy has for emergencies. They lay “in state” in one of our embassy houses overnight and the next day. We had a Marine Security Guard in dress blues in formal attendance, plus the American and ambassadorial flags. It was like a wake: embassy officers and Sudanese staff would come and go and come again. I think a few VIP Sudanese stopped by as well, even though the condolence book was at the embassy.
Then there was the departure ceremony. With the haboob over, Air Force One or Two, which had staged to Cairo, arrived with Macomber. We and the Sudanese arranged a tarmac exit ceremony for the coffins and the widows, attended by the government and diplomatic corps. In one of those poignant paradoxes you often see in Africa, the coffins, carried by the Marine Guards with the wives, me, and the other embassy officers following, were accompanied by Sudanese troops slow-marching to a Sudanese military bagpipe band playing Auld Lang Syne as a dirge.
In-Box Exercise, This Time for Real
You know, there’s an “in-box” exercise for Foreign Service applicants where they arrive at a post to replace an officer who’s died suddenly. They have to go through the contents of an in-box and determine priorities. Well, I now had two in-boxes and it was for real.
Among the papers in Noel’s box was a photo, taken by the desk where I now sat and developed at the embassy, of his taking the oath as ambassador on the day of his capture. He had come to the Sudan on an interim appointment and been confirmed by the Senate in absentia. Curt Moore had delivered the oath of office. The two men and their wives were wrapped in laughter and friendship. Hours later, both men were dead. If I had arrived in Khartoum directly from Jakarta, I might have been with them.
I learned later that Moore had possibly been at least vaguely aware of being under surveillance, but had discounted it. Noel had also been advised to be cautious, but, with his deep experience in Khartoum, had said that very day, “Nothing will happen to me in the Sudan.” He was right about the Sudanese, but wrong about the BSO, Libya, and, maybe, Yasser Arafat.
Among the papers in Moore’s box was a hand-written welcome letter to me. It ended with “So at the close of three and one-half of the finest years of my life, I welcome you to Khartoum and hope you will be able to make the same statement when you leave.”
Patching Up a Shattered Embassy
The small embassy was in psychological shock and depression. Although the Americans did not know Cleo Noel well, they knew his reputation. His few months at post had been impressively reassuring. They virtually revered Curt Moore. The Sudanese [Foreign Service Nationals] appreciated both men as friends of the Sudan and everyone knew that Noel and Moore were as close as brothers. The embassy was shattered, absolutely shattered.…
The first week or two was just terrible; each day worse than the one preceding. Aside from lack of knowledge and contacts, it was a challenge to resuscitate and inspire officers from such a trauma. I set initial personal and embassy goals, at first day-to-day and then longer. I soon realized the American officers found solace in focus. They also had been bonded by a crisis that encompassed me. It was March and they began to respond to my game plan of rendering honor to the fallen by having the embassy rebound as a fully functioning professional entity by July 4, 1973. If successful, we could top it off symbolically with the first formal July 4 celebration in an Arabic state since 1967. If we could do that, I would have done what I could as Charge. The embassy would then be a proven, ready, and able vehicle for a new ambassador with shoulder patch to move forward. Sounds rehearsed, but it was embedded in my mind and recallable today.
In retrospect, I consider Khartoum the formative period in my Foreign Service career. It justified the approach I had always taken of wanting responsibility and across-the-board experience. Frankly, when I left the Sudan, I felt I could handle any task the Foreign Service could assign.
Going to Court, Conviction, Release and the Big Picture
It was a tortuous process. The Sudanese Government’s initial chagrin and outrage became progressively modified by internal and foreign policy concerns. The first step, which took months, was a magisterial inquiry, sort of like a grand jury. After fits and starts and a series of our demarches to the government, the magistrate finally lodged charges of murder against the principal BSO assassins.…
Months further…they were convicted in a trial on charges of murder. The good news was that our foremost policy goal had been met: the conviction of anti-American terrorists in an Arab state. The sentence was life imprisonment, which the Sudanese Supreme Court commuted to X years. The bad news was truly bad. They were eventually turned over surreptitiously to the PLO to “impose the sentence” and spirited out by plane to Cairo. I think then-Ambassador Brewer only found out about it after the fact. The USG pressured the Egyptians not to release them and they were put in a form of progressively loose house arrest in a Nile mansion. Eventually, they evaporated. A travesty!
One of the controversies in later years was that the White House and State eased the pressure, partly for Middle East foreign policy reasons and partly because the major State principals were progressively transferred in a normal career sequence. Kissinger is cited as having a bigger picture in mind and State as viewing the matter as “an” issue, but not “the” issue it had been.…
“The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the head of Fatah. When the terrorists became convinced that their demands would not be met and after they reportedly had received orders from Fatah headquarters in Beirut, they killed the two U.S. officials and the Belgian Charge ́. Thirty-four hours later, upon receipt of orders from Arafat in Beirut, the terrorists released the other hostages unharmed and surrendered to Sudanese authorities.”
Following the 1993 Oslo Accords, Yasser Arafat, and two Israelis, the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, were named the winners of the 1994 Nobel peace prize.
AFSA’s Memorial Plaque Ceremony was held at the State Department today. The ceremony was attended by Vice President Joe Biden, CIA Director Brennan, USAID Administrator Shah and Secretary Kerry who delivered his remarks here. Excerpt:
The most important thank you that we can all give – and we do – is to the family members. I know this is a mixed day. It’s a hard day. It’s a day that brings back pain, but it’s also a day, I hope, of comfort and of pride in knowing that the contributions and the memories of your loved ones are a permanent part of the State Department, as strong as the marble which will carry their names for eternity.
Today we add eight names to our wall of honor, eight people who dedicated their lives to service. And to a person, each one sought out the most difficult assignments. They understood the risks, and still they raised their hands and they said: “Send me.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, and American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) President Susan R. Johnson honor foreign affairs colleagues who have lost their lives while serving overseas in the line of duty or under heroic or other inspirational circumstances, at the AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain] Click on image to view video of the ceremony.
The ceremony honored the following individuals:
ANNE T. SMEDINGHOFF Foreign Service Officer, died in Afghanistan from injuries sustained during a bombing on April 6, 2013.
J. CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
SEAN PATRICK SMITH
Information Management Specialist, was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
Security Specialist, was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
GLEN A. DOHERTY
Security Specialist, was killed during a terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
RAGAEI SAID ABDELFATTAH
USAID Foreign Service Officer, was killed during a suicide bombing in Afghanistan on August 8, 2012.
A lot have been written and said about the individuals above but two who were honored today were from 40 years ago. And we don’t know much about them. So we are excerpting that from Secretary Kerry’s remarks:
Joe Fandino served in the Air Force during the Korean War where he sat on the “black box” during missions, meaning it was his job to blow up the plane if it got into real trouble. So he was a man who understood high-stakes situations. He also had a tremendous sense of humor. On his first Foreign Service posting to the Dominican Republic, he was riding with the Ambassador, who just happened to be his future father-in-law, and the rioters began rocking the car. And the Ambassador asked, “Joe, what do you intend to do if things get really bad?” And Joe didn’t miss a beat. He just leapt up and said, “I’ll jump out of the car, tear off my tie, and yell ‘down with the Americans!’” (Laughter.) Joe’s family and friends cherish those memories of his charm and his ability to cut through the noise. He died in 1972 while serving in Vietnam with USAID.
Frank Savage used to ride his Harley around Europe while wearing a Levi jacket with a big American flag sewn onto the back of it. He was proud of his country, and he wanted everybody to know it. Frank volunteered to serve in Vietnam with USAID, and when he wasn’t on duty, he helped defend a local orphanage from Viet Cong attacks. He was severely injured in the 1965 terrorist bombing of My Canh, the floating restaurant, but after a year, he volunteered to go back. And Frank felt he that had a job to finish, which is characteristic of every single one of these people. Sadly, he became critically ill from his original wounds and he died in Saigon in 1967.
The memorial plaque ceremony traditionally happens once a year, usually on the first week of May. Unfortunately, it has been the case in the last several years that a new name is added on the wall every year.
There was a memorial service held at the State Department today for Anne Smedinghoff. According to Life After Jerusalem, the ceremony was closed to the press at her family’s request. If you are part of the State Department community, you can watch it via BNET at bnet.state.gov/meetings.asx or later on BNET’s Video-on-Demand archive.
For so many, there’s been a “there but for the grace of God go I” sentiment in how everyone saw in Anne’s idealism and her courage just a little bit of who we’d all like to be, and more than a little bit of a reminder that in this dangerous world that calls on foreign service professionals, the risks are always with us.
What I hope we can do this week is celebrate Anne’s life together. So this Thursday, May 2, I ask you to help remember Anne by joining me and Anne’s family – Tom, Mary Beth, Mark, Regina, and Joan – at a memorial service that will celebrate her and honor her ideals.”
There were others at the memorial with speaking parts but only the one by Tara Sonenshine, the outgoing Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has so far been posted online:
I’d like to thank Under Secretary Kennedy and Father Moretti for their moving words. I’d also like to extend a warm embrace to Anne’s family, friends, and colleagues; and to the mother of Kelly Hunt. Also to Steve Overman, Jeff Lodinsky, and the other U.S. civilians hurt in this incident; and to the families of the three servicemen just mentioned by Under Secretary Kennedy, who also lost their lives.
We have heard, and we will hear, much about Anne as a person. I want to talk about Anne as a member of the public diplomacy family.
You may read the text of the full remarks here. No photos or video appear to be available to the public for this memorial service.
Also just to note that Jeff Lodinsky was wounded in the Kunar suicide bombing incident last year, not the Zabul incident that killed Anne Smedinghoff. This is the first time we’ve heard about Steve Overman. We don’t know if he was wounded in Kunar or in Zabul. We think he might be with USAID but could not get confirmation on that.