Tomas Perez: Diplomatic Courier Honored for Heroism

Foreign Affairs Day seems like an appropriate day to remember not just retirees who are back at the State Department for the annual homecoming event, but also current employees who have done more than what is asked of them. One of them is Tomas “Andy” Perez, a diplomatic courier who was honored this past February with the State Department’s Award for Heroism.

As a Diplomatic Courier, Perez routinely accompanies classified diplomatic pouches in support of the U.S. Department of State’s mission, ensuring that equipment and materials arrive securely at diplomatic posts. However, on May 25, 2008, the job was anything but routine.

That morning Perez was strapped into the jump seat of a Kalitta 747-200 cargo aircraft, traveling with a four-member crew from Brussels. As the aircraft began takeoff, Perez and the crew heard a loud noise. The pilot aborted liftoff and tried to stop the aircraft, but, as the landing gear failed, the airplane skipped the runway and plunged into a field. The crash caused the fuselage to break apart. The aircraft’s nose section, which included the cockpit holding Perez and the four crew members, broke off from the rest of the plane and dropped to the ground, stopping just 26 feet from high power lines and railroad tracks.

Despite sustaining injuries, Perez jumped into action to help the others on board. In the chaos, the air filling with the smell of jet fuel, and two of the escape hatches damaged by the crash and rendered unusable, Perez was able to locate a working hatch, open it, and lead the crew to safety. However, the group then faced a steep, dangerous descent, and the crew was understandably hesitant to jump from the plane. Perez again led the way, demonstrating how to use the escape slide to slow their steep descent and land safely.

Once the crew was safely on the ground, Perez attended to the injured and quickly alerted authorities at the Department about the accident and his need for support. Never forgetting his duty as a Diplomatic Courier, Perez refused to leave the site for medical treatment so that he could maintain surveillance of the diplomatic pouches—enough material to fill an 18-wheeler truck. Crews from U.S. Embassies around the world flew in to take shifts guarding the cargo continuously for eight days while HAZMAT personnel cleared the leaking jet fuel and investigators combed the crash site.

For his valor under life-threatening conditions, Perez was presented with the Department of State’s Award for Heroism. In a ceremony on February 17, 2009 at the U.S. Department of State’s Annex in Rosslyn, Virginia, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric J. Boswell presented Perez with a medal set and a certificate signed by the Secretary.

Perez became a Diplomatic Courier in 2005 and worked in the Washington, D.C. office. He began working in the Frankfurt Regional Diplomatic Courier Division in September 2008. The presentation of the Award for Heroism is not the first time the U.S. Department of State has honored Perez. In 2007, he received the Meritorious Honor Award for outstanding efforts in office modernization and dedication to the mission of the U.S. Diplomatic Courier Service. Prior to coming to State, Perez served in the United States Army for eight years; he was a Russian linguist, and he received two Army Achievement medals.

Advertisements

Tomas Perez: Diplomatic Courier Honored for Heroism

Foreign Affairs Day seems like an appropriate day to remember not just retirees who are back at the State Department for the annual homecoming event, but also current employees who have done more than what is asked of them. One of them is Tomas “Andy” Perez, a diplomatic courier who was honored this past February with the State Department’s Award for Heroism.

As a Diplomatic Courier, Perez routinely accompanies classified diplomatic pouches in support of the U.S. Department of State’s mission, ensuring that equipment and materials arrive securely at diplomatic posts. However, on May 25, 2008, the job was anything but routine.

That morning Perez was strapped into the jump seat of a Kalitta 747-200 cargo aircraft, traveling with a four-member crew from Brussels. As the aircraft began takeoff, Perez and the crew heard a loud noise. The pilot aborted liftoff and tried to stop the aircraft, but, as the landing gear failed, the airplane skipped the runway and plunged into a field. The crash caused the fuselage to break apart. The aircraft’s nose section, which included the cockpit holding Perez and the four crew members, broke off from the rest of the plane and dropped to the ground, stopping just 26 feet from high power lines and railroad tracks.

Despite sustaining injuries, Perez jumped into action to help the others on board. In the chaos, the air filling with the smell of jet fuel, and two of the escape hatches damaged by the crash and rendered unusable, Perez was able to locate a working hatch, open it, and lead the crew to safety. However, the group then faced a steep, dangerous descent, and the crew was understandably hesitant to jump from the plane. Perez again led the way, demonstrating how to use the escape slide to slow their steep descent and land safely.

Once the crew was safely on the ground, Perez attended to the injured and quickly alerted authorities at the Department about the accident and his need for support. Never forgetting his duty as a Diplomatic Courier, Perez refused to leave the site for medical treatment so that he could maintain surveillance of the diplomatic pouches—enough material to fill an 18-wheeler truck. Crews from U.S. Embassies around the world flew in to take shifts guarding the cargo continuously for eight days while HAZMAT personnel cleared the leaking jet fuel and investigators combed the crash site.

For his valor under life-threatening conditions, Perez was presented with the Department of State’s Award for Heroism. In a ceremony on February 17, 2009 at the U.S. Department of State’s Annex in Rosslyn, Virginia, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric J. Boswell presented Perez with a medal set and a certificate signed by the Secretary.

Perez became a Diplomatic Courier in 2005 and worked in the Washington, D.C. office. He began working in the Frankfurt Regional Diplomatic Courier Division in September 2008. The presentation of the Award for Heroism is not the first time the U.S. Department of State has honored Perez. In 2007, he received the Meritorious Honor Award for outstanding efforts in office modernization and dedication to the mission of the U.S. Diplomatic Courier Service. Prior to coming to State, Perez served in the United States Army for eight years; he was a Russian linguist, and he received two Army Achievement medals.

Released: Country Reports on Terrorism 2008

The Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 has just been released in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the ―Act), which requires the Department of State to provide to Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act. Country Reports on Terrorism replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.

Below is Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Ronald Schlicher, and the Deputy Director for Information Sharing and Knowledge Development of the National Counterterrorism Center, Russell Travers during a special briefing and release of report yesterday.

The transcript of this special briefing is here. The full report is available as HTML files here or in PDF format [2.14 MB, 351 pages].

Released: Country Reports on Terrorism 2008

The Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 has just been released in compliance with Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656f (the ―Act), which requires the Department of State to provide to Congress a full and complete annual report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the Act. Country Reports on Terrorism replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.

Below is Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Ronald Schlicher, and the Deputy Director for Information Sharing and Knowledge Development of the National Counterterrorism Center, Russell Travers during a special briefing and release of report yesterday.

The transcript of this special briefing is here. The full report is available as HTML files here or in PDF format [2.14 MB, 351 pages].

Criminals Exploiting Swine Flu Outbreak?

On 30 April 2009, the INTERPOL warned of criminals potentially exploiting the swine flu outbreak through spam emails and websites selling illegal, unlicensed or fake medicine. Below is the media release; click here for the original post:

Unlicensed and illegal internet pharmacies take orders and payments with no assurance of the goods being delivered and those customers receiving goods have no guarantee of the safety, quality or effectiveness of the drugs, thereby seriously putting their health at risk.

Transactions via this type of unregulated sites also greatly increase the chances of cybercriminals stealing an individual’s credit card details and users’ computers being infected with password stealing viruses.

“It has been seen time and time again that following a global threat or natural disaster, criminals exploit the situation for their own financial gain and in this situation they are searching to take advantage of people’s fears about their health,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin.

“By responding to spam swine flu emails or attempting to order medication online through illegal and unregulated websites, people are risking their wellbeing and their money.

“Any unsolicited emails containing deals or links to websites offering swine flu-related information packs or medicines should be treated with extreme caution,” added Mr Louboutin.

Internet security firms are reporting that around three to four per cent of spam mails currently being circulated are related to swine flu, with this number expected to increase. Similarly, hundreds of new web pages related to swine flu have been created in the past week.

Criminal organizations and individuals involved in the production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals may also attempt to take advantage of the current health situation through the manufacture of fake antiviral drugs.

“Any product which can be manufactured can be counterfeited, and while there is so far no evidence to suggest that fake antivirals are being manufactured in response to the swine flu outbreak, this is an area which we will continue to monitor in order to identify any cases if or when they emerge,” said Mr Louboutin.

Anyone seeking official updates and information about swine flu should consult the website of the World Health Organization (WHO) which is leading the global response to the outbreak.

For individual countries’ guidelines people should consult their national health authority website.


For flu treatment and devices, check out the CDC’s Swine Flu: Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of Medical Products and Devices page.

What are the products currently under EUA?

Tamiflu (oseltamivir)

Relenza (zanamivir)

Swine Flu Test Kit


Click here for CDC’s What’s New on Swine Flu site. You can keep up with updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the swine flu (now called H1N1) flu investigation by signing up for email updates, subscribing to RSS, or following CDC on Twitter.

Criminals Exploiting Swine Flu Outbreak?

On 30 April 2009, the INTERPOL warned of criminals potentially exploiting the swine flu outbreak through spam emails and websites selling illegal, unlicensed or fake medicine. Below is the media release; click here for the original post:

Unlicensed and illegal internet pharmacies take orders and payments with no assurance of the goods being delivered and those customers receiving goods have no guarantee of the safety, quality or effectiveness of the drugs, thereby seriously putting their health at risk.

Transactions via this type of unregulated sites also greatly increase the chances of cybercriminals stealing an individual’s credit card details and users’ computers being infected with password stealing viruses.

“It has been seen time and time again that following a global threat or natural disaster, criminals exploit the situation for their own financial gain and in this situation they are searching to take advantage of people’s fears about their health,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin.

“By responding to spam swine flu emails or attempting to order medication online through illegal and unregulated websites, people are risking their wellbeing and their money.

“Any unsolicited emails containing deals or links to websites offering swine flu-related information packs or medicines should be treated with extreme caution,” added Mr Louboutin.

Internet security firms are reporting that around three to four per cent of spam mails currently being circulated are related to swine flu, with this number expected to increase. Similarly, hundreds of new web pages related to swine flu have been created in the past week.

Criminal organizations and individuals involved in the production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals may also attempt to take advantage of the current health situation through the manufacture of fake antiviral drugs.

“Any product which can be manufactured can be counterfeited, and while there is so far no evidence to suggest that fake antivirals are being manufactured in response to the swine flu outbreak, this is an area which we will continue to monitor in order to identify any cases if or when they emerge,” said Mr Louboutin.

Anyone seeking official updates and information about swine flu should consult the website of the World Health Organization (WHO) which is leading the global response to the outbreak.

For individual countries’ guidelines people should consult their national health authority website.


For flu treatment and devices, check out the CDC’s Swine Flu: Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of Medical Products and Devices page.

What are the products currently under EUA?

Tamiflu (oseltamivir)

Relenza (zanamivir)

Swine Flu Test Kit


Click here for CDC’s What’s New on Swine Flu site. You can keep up with updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the swine flu (now called H1N1) flu investigation by signing up for email updates, subscribing to RSS, or following CDC on Twitter.

May 1: Honoring Foreign Service Personnel

Wreath Laying at the Memorial Plaque, State Magazine

The AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony will be held today, May 1 at 10:25 a.m., in the C St. lobby of the State Department in front of the west plaque.

Secretary Hillary Clinton is scheduled to preside over the ceremony. She will read a message from President Obama and pay her respects to the families of the employees whose names are added to the plaque, bringing the total to 231. John Naland, AFSA President, will also make brief remarks.

Secretary Clinton at the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)
Plaque Ceremony in C Street Lobby (added 5/1 @ 9:42 PM)
State Department photo by Michael Gross

The ceremony takes place during Foreign Affairs Day to honor those Foreign Service personnel who have lost their lives while serving our country overseas in the line of duty or under heroic or other inspirational circumstances. The names below are added to the plaque. The addition of “older names” is part of AFSA’s effort to include names that have been overlooked previously.

BRIAN ADKINS
Brian Adkins was a first-tour State Department Foreign Service Officer who was killed on January 31, 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he was serving as a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy. Brian was a graduate of George Washington University, where he completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies. He graduated summa cum laude from the Elliott School of International Affairs in 2005. He joined the State Department after receiving his masters degree in 2007 and was assigned to Ethiopia. Mr. Adkins would have turned 26 on Feb. 2, 2009, the day that friends received word of his death. He was a native of Columbus, Ohio and is survived by his parents, John and Christine Adkins, his sister Tiffany and his brother Michael, as well as his maternal and paternal grandparents.

See “Appreciation: Brian Adkins: A Life Dedicated to Service (1983-2009)”
By Charles Hornbostel │ FS Journal May 2009 │ pp. 41-43

Brian Adkins – Legacy.com Guest Book

FELIX RUSSEL ENGDAHL
Felix Russell Engdahl (July 28, 1907-May 14, 1942), better known during his life as Russ Engdahl, joined the Foreign Service on December 16, 1930. After serving as Vice Consul in Port-au-Prince and Calcutta, Engdahl was assigned to Shanghai in October 1935. He was promoted to Consul and, in late 1941, traveled to Hong Kong on courier duty. He was captured by the Japanese not long after the fall of Hong Kong in late December 1941, along with several other members of the Foreign Service and sent to the Stanley Internment Camp. Engdahl died in the camp on May 14, 1942, a few months before all Americans in the camp were repatriated. His death was accidental, caused by a fall down some stairs while in the prison.

THOMAS W. WALDRON
Thomas Waldron (May 21, 1814-September 8, 1844) was appointed as the first U.S. Consul to Hong Kong on July 21, 1843. This was a recess appointment and he was later confirmed by the Senate on May 17, 1844. He arrived in Hong Kong in early February 1844. He traveled to Macau on an official visit in September 1844 where he died of cholera. He is buried in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Macau.

EDMUND ROBERTS
Edmund Roberts (July 29, 1784-June 12, 1836) was appointed as Special Agent on January 26, 1832. President Jackson tasked him to negotiate commercial treaties with Muscat, Siam and Cochin China. Later in 1832, he was also asked to negotiate a treaty with Japan. In 1832, Roberts negotiated treaties between the United States and Siam and Muscat. In March 1835, Roberts left the United States on a mission to Cochin China, Siam and Japan. While in Siam, Roberts contracted dysentery and died in Macau on his way to Japan. He is buried in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Macau.

To read more about the Memorial Plaque, go here. To see the names on the plaque, click here.

May 1: Honoring Foreign Service Personnel

Wreath Laying at the Memorial Plaque, State Magazine

The AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony will be held today, May 1 at 10:25 a.m., in the C St. lobby of the State Department in front of the west plaque.

Secretary Hillary Clinton is scheduled to preside over the ceremony. She will read a message from President Obama and pay her respects to the families of the employees whose names are added to the plaque, bringing the total to 231. John Naland, AFSA President, will also make brief remarks.

Secretary Clinton at the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)
Plaque Ceremony in C Street Lobby (added 5/1 @ 9:42 PM)
State Department photo by Michael Gross

The ceremony takes place during Foreign Affairs Day to honor those Foreign Service personnel who have lost their lives while serving our country overseas in the line of duty or under heroic or other inspirational circumstances. The names below are added to the plaque. The addition of “older names” is part of AFSA’s effort to include names that have been overlooked previously.

BRIAN ADKINS
Brian Adkins was a first-tour State Department Foreign Service Officer who was killed on January 31, 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he was serving as a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy. Brian was a graduate of George Washington University, where he completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies. He graduated summa cum laude from the Elliott School of International Affairs in 2005. He joined the State Department after receiving his masters degree in 2007 and was assigned to Ethiopia. Mr. Adkins would have turned 26 on Feb. 2, 2009, the day that friends received word of his death. He was a native of Columbus, Ohio and is survived by his parents, John and Christine Adkins, his sister Tiffany and his brother Michael, as well as his maternal and paternal grandparents.

See “Appreciation: Brian Adkins: A Life Dedicated to Service (1983-2009)”
By Charles Hornbostel │ FS Journal May 2009 │ pp. 41-43

Brian Adkins – Legacy.com Guest Book

FELIX RUSSEL ENGDAHL
Felix Russell Engdahl (July 28, 1907-May 14, 1942), better known during his life as Russ Engdahl, joined the Foreign Service on December 16, 1930. After serving as Vice Consul in Port-au-Prince and Calcutta, Engdahl was assigned to Shanghai in October 1935. He was promoted to Consul and, in late 1941, traveled to Hong Kong on courier duty. He was captured by the Japanese not long after the fall of Hong Kong in late December 1941, along with several other members of the Foreign Service and sent to the Stanley Internment Camp. Engdahl died in the camp on May 14, 1942, a few months before all Americans in the camp were repatriated. His death was accidental, caused by a fall down some stairs while in the prison.

THOMAS W. WALDRON
Thomas Waldron (May 21, 1814-September 8, 1844) was appointed as the first U.S. Consul to Hong Kong on July 21, 1843. This was a recess appointment and he was later confirmed by the Senate on May 17, 1844. He arrived in Hong Kong in early February 1844. He traveled to Macau on an official visit in September 1844 where he died of cholera. He is buried in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Macau.

EDMUND ROBERTS
Edmund Roberts (July 29, 1784-June 12, 1836) was appointed as Special Agent on January 26, 1832. President Jackson tasked him to negotiate commercial treaties with Muscat, Siam and Cochin China. Later in 1832, he was also asked to negotiate a treaty with Japan. In 1832, Roberts negotiated treaties between the United States and Siam and Muscat. In March 1835, Roberts left the United States on a mission to Cochin China, Siam and Japan. While in Siam, Roberts contracted dysentery and died in Macau on his way to Japan. He is buried in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Macau.

To read more about the Memorial Plaque, go here. To see the names on the plaque, click here.