Raymond Maxwell: A happy ending … despite the fact that the “system” does not work

Following our publication of Raymond Maxwell’s poem in this blog, we received an unsolicited note from  a veteran FSO we know from Post X.  The FSO knows Raymond Maxwell well, all the way back to A-100 and notes that Mr. Maxwell spent 14 years in the United States Navy before joining the Foreign Service.  The FSO added that Mr. Maxwell was “definitely the first one to become a DAS” [deputy assistant secretary] from his A-100 class, and the first one to make it to Senior Foreign Service. Excerpt below:

For years, I have told a story about Ray to junior officers that I thought showed that there was justice in the “system,” and which I thought had a happy ending (until now).  Ray has always been a stand-up guy.  On his first tour, he went as a General Services Officer to a small West African post.  He had a boss (Admin Officer) who did not play by the rules, and Ray refused to go along with unethical or illegal practices in the execution of his duties.  He hadn’t left the Navy just to sell out his principles in the Foreign Service.  For a first tour officer, that put him in a precarious position and made tenure (and a career) less than a sure thing.  Fortunately, Ray’s next tour went well, as did every tour after that.  Not only did he set the standard in every position he ever held, he also took the hardest jobs — a couple of them in Iraq back when nobody else wanted to go there.

When I first learned that Ray was going to be a scapegoat for our most recent 9/11, I felt that this story no longer had a happy ending.  He was a victim of “damage control,” which in government tries to push accountability down to the lowest level possible.  But in a sense, the happy ending is that Ray remained the stand-up guy, the man of principle that he has always been, in service to our country for over 35 years in the United States Navy and in the Foreign Service of the United States, despite the fact that the “system” does not work.  His service has been a great gift to our nation.

I do hope that a generation of officers who worked with Ray, were mentored by Ray, or who hear the stories about him, are themselves inspired to a higher standard of public service than is currently the accepted norm in our beloved Department of State.  Is there hope for the future?  Actually, I don’t know.

The FSO who wrote this is in active service, so there will be no other details on that.  Mr. Maxwell remains in administrative leave status and defers all press inquiries to the State Department spokesperson and State Department Public Affairs.