AFSA Memorial Plaque Ceremony Adds Eight Names to Wall of Honor

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.

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.

TY WOODS
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.

You may read the full text of the remarks here.

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.

— DS

 

 

 

 

 

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May 3, 2013: Foreign Affairs Day to Honor Eight Employees Killed in the Line of Duty

Via the State Dept:

Each year on the first Friday of May, the Department of State observes Foreign Affairs Day, the annual homecoming for our Foreign Service and Civil Service retirees. This day also commemorates the members of the Foreign Service who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives serving the United States overseas. Both a solemn occasion and a celebration, Foreign Affairs Day recognizes employees of foreign affairs agencies and their dedication and service as they address foreign policy and development challenges around the world.

Over 400 retirees are expected to return to the Department of State on May 3 to participate in a morning program of remarks and seminars with senior officials to discuss key foreign policy issues, with a special keynote address from Secretary of State John Kerry. Hosted by the Director General for Human Resources, the Department will also present the Director General’s Foreign Service Cup to W. Robert Pearson and the Director General’s Civil Service Cup to Janice S. Clements, both of whom have distinguished themselves in their State Department careers and afterwards in service on behalf of their communities.

Alongside the seminar program, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the professional association and union of the Foreign Service, is hosting its annual ceremony honoring colleagues who were killed overseas in the line of duty or under heroic circumstances. Known as the AFSA Plaque Ceremony, the event centers around the plaque in the Department lobby that lists the names of 236 fallen colleagues going as far back as 1780.

This year AFSA is honoring eight individuals whose names are being added to the plaque, bringing the total to 244 names. The family and friends of these eight heroes will be in attendance as the engraving of the names of their loved ones will be unveiled for the first time. Relating events in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s to more recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Libya, this year’s honorees on the AFSA plaque are: Anne T. Smedinghoff, J. Christopher Stevens, Sean Patrick Smith, Ty Woods, Glen A. Doherty, Ragaei Said Abdelfattah, Joseph Gregory Fandino, and Francis J. Savage.

Vice President Joe Biden will preside over the ceremony and will be joined by Secretary of State Kerry and AFSA President Susan Johnson. Finally, on behalf of President Barack Obama, the Department is conferring the Thomas Jefferson Star Awards and Medals, as well as the Secretary’s Awards, in a private ceremony the same day. This year’s Foreign Affairs Day programs are a particularly special tribute to the increasingly challenging nature of diplomacy and development.

image from afsa.org

screen capture from afsa.org

Per 22 USC § 2708a, the  Thomas Jefferson Star for Foreign Service is awarded to any member of the Foreign Service or any other civilian employee of the Government of the United States who, while employed at, or assigned permanently or temporarily to, an official mission overseas or while traveling abroad on official business, incurred a wound or other injury or an illness (whether or not the wound, other injury, or illness resulted in death)—as the person was performing official duties; as the person was on the premises of a United States mission abroad; or by reason of the person’s status as a United States Government employee.

The first two names on this list, Francis J. Savage and Joseph Gregory Fandino died in Vietnam in 1967 and 1972 respectively. We have not been able to find anything on Mr. Fandino, but on April 18, Congressman Tom Reed of New York spoke about the late Mr. Savage in the House of Representatives:

Mr. REED. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the life of Francis J. Savage. A resident of Olean, New York, Mr. Savage served his country admirably across the world for the better part of two decades as a member of the Foreign Service and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mr. Savage’s career in the Foreign Service began with an assignment in Iceland in 1950, but he was subsequently transferred to Marseilles, France where he met his wife, Doreen. The two continued to serve across the world, specifically Greece, Trinidad, Tripoli, and Libya.

Following his tenure with the Foreign Service, Mr. Savage began to work for the USAID. It was during this time that his work took him to Vietnam as a Provincial Representative. Tragically, Mr. Savage was mortally wounded at the My Calm bombing in 1965. To honor his sacrifice, President Lyndon Johnson posthumously awarded Francis Savage with the Secretary’s Award at the White House with his surviving wife, Doreen, and two children in attendance.

It is with great privilege that I announce Francis J. Savage will be honored on May 3, 2013, Foreign Affairs Day, at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Mr. Savage’s service and sacrifice to this great nation deserves such recognition and I am proud to represent the district Mr. Savage once called home.

Mr. Reed’s statement is on the Congressional Record here.
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In the Foreign Service: Death, Too Close An Acquaintance

This past week saw the death of a member of a local guard force at the US Embassy in Ankara.  Nomads By Nature who blogs from Ankara writes that the guard who died when the suicide bomber detonated the bomb at the embassy entrance, Mustafa Akarsu was a 46-year-old security guard at the embassy.  He left behind a wife, an 18 year old son, and a 15 year old daughter. “He put duty ahead and confronted the bomber in that initial checkpoint, hollering out a warning to the others as he did so.

This has been a reality for the Foreign Service, not just for the American employees and family members but also for the locally hired employees, and host country police officers tasked to guard our people and diplomatic facilities overseas.  AFSA has a long list on its memorial plaque of American officers lost dating back to 1780 when William Palfrey was lost at sea.  We don’t think there is a memorial plaque just for local employees. We lost so many of them in Beirut one year, and more another year. We lost many more during the twin bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Since 2008, this blog has attempted to keep track of the violent deaths related to the State Department overseas.  Since we mostly worked through publicly available material, we are pretty confident that we have covered FS employee/family-related incidents (missing, suicide, attacks).  We are also sure our list covering local national casualties are incomplete because those do not always make the news.

Apologies if we missed anyone.  If you know anyone not listed below kindly please add the information in the comment section.

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Feb 2013  – Mustafa Akarsu, Local Guard Force (Ankara, Turkey): investigation is still ongoing. Hurriyet Daily News has some additional details here.

Jan 2013 – Christopher “Norm” Bates, Foreign Service  (Johannesburg, South Africa): case is open and ongoing.

US Mission South Africa: FS Employee Christopher Bates Dead in Jo’burg

Nov 2012 – George Anikow, Foreign Service/EFM (Manila, Philippines): four alleged perpetrators are currently in Philippine court system.

US Embassy Manila:  George Anikow, Diplomatic Spouse Killed in Early Morning Altercation

October  2012 – Qassim Aklan, Foreign Service National (Sana’a, Yemen)

US Embassy Yemen: FSN Qassim Aklan Killed in Motorcycle Drive-by Shooting

 

Sept 2012

  • J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service (Benghazi, Libya)
  • Sean Smith, Foreign Service (Benghazi, Libya)
  • Tyrone Woods, Contractor (Benghazi, Libya)
  • Glen Doherty, Contractor (Benghazi, Libya)

Outrage! Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others killed in Benghazi, Libya

August 2012 – Ragaei Abdelfattah, USAID (Kunar, Afghanistan)

US Mission Afghanistan: USAID Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, Four Others Killed, Two Wounded in Suicide Attack in Kunar

May 2012 – George Gaines, Foreign Service (Bridgetown, Barbados)

US Embassy Barbados: Death of the Regional Security Officer

February 2011 – Khairy Ramadan Aly, Foreign Service National (Cairo, Egypt)

US Embassy Cairo Local Employee Confirmed Dead with Three Bullet Holes

March 2010 –  Lesley A. Enriquez, Foreign Service National (Ciudad Juarez, Mexico): one gang leader extradited from Mexico

 

January 2010

  • Victoria DeLong, Foreign Service (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
  • Laurence Wyllie, Foreign Service/EFM (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
  • Baptiste Wyllie (5),  Foreign Service/EFM (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
  • Evan Wyllie (7), Foreign Service/EFM (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

State Dept Reports Death of FSO in Haiti Earthquake

Three FS Family Members Perished in Haiti Quake

September 2009 – James Hogan, Foreign Service (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles): still missing, more blog posts archived here.

James Hogan Case: A Royal Hurricane Shit Storm of Pain for All to Read

May 2009 Terrence Barnich, State Department  (Fallujah, Iraq)

US Embassy Baghdad Employees Killed by IED

February 2009 – Brian Adkins, Foreign Service (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): a local man reportedly pleaded guilty to the murder but we have no information whether the murderer was sentenced.

One of Ours is Dead in Addis Ababa

January 2008 

  • John M. Granville, USAID (Khartoum, Sudan): convicted murderers still at large
  • Abdel Rahman Abbas, USAID/FSN (Khartoum, Sudan) convicted murderers still at large

How much does a US diplomat’s life worth? About $1,800 US dollars, and look there’s no raging mob…

 

For the Foreign Service, the six degrees of separation is acutely much closer.  As such, death is often too close an acquaintance.

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Photo of the Day: Ragaei Abdelfattah, Coming Home

We posted this last month: US Mission Afghanistan: USAID Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, Four Others Killed, Two Wounded in Suicide Attack in Kunar. We just found this photo today:

A U.S. Marine Corps carry team transfers the remains of Department of State Foreign Service Officer, Mr. Ragaei Abdelfattah, of Annapolis, Maryland, at Dover Air Force Base, on August 12, 2012. Abdelfattah, a USAID officer, was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Konar province, on August 8, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)

The two men in black suits in the photo above are identified elsewhere as USAID’s Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg and U.S. Department of State Under Secretary Patrick F. Kennedy.

According to WaPo, Ragaei Abdelfattah, a naturalized American who originally came from Egypt was a former master planner for Prince George’s County and was on his second tour for USAID.

Abdelfattah, 43, was on his second voluntary tour as a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, a job that took him to eastern Afghanistan to partner with local officials to establish schools and health clinics and to deliver electricity.
[…]
Abdelfattah was born in Giza and grew up in Cairo, where he studied architecture at Ain Shams University. He worked in urban planning and ecotourism development in Egypt and led a project for the U.N. Development Program before arriving in America shortly before Sept. 11, 2001.

Read more about him here.

Rest in peace Ragaei Abdelfattah.

Domani Spero

US Mission Afghanistan: USAID Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, Four Others Killed, Two Wounded in Suicide Attack in Kunar

A suicide attack on August 8 at the Kunar Province of Afghanistan killed USAID Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, two soldiers, Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin and airman, Maj. Walter D. Gray. The attack also killed an unnamed Afghan civilian,  wounded an unnamed Foreign Service Officer and seriously wounded Col. James Mingus, the 4th Brigade’s  commander.

According to ABC News, the deadly attack took place Wednesday when two suicide bombers detonated suicide vests as a team of American military and civilian officials approached the provincial council’s office in Sarkowi in Kunar Province.

On August 9, Secretary Clinton released the following statement:

The United States strongly condemns the suicide attack yesterday in Kunar province, Afghanistan, that killed USAID Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, three ISAF service members and an Afghan civilian, and injured a State Department Foreign Service officer. On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I have sent my deepest condolences to Ragaei’s family and to the entire U.S. Mission in Afghanistan.

Ragaei’s work over the last year was critical to our efforts to support Afghanistan’s political, economic, and security transitions and was an example of the highest standards of service. Over the last 15 months — partnering with local officials — he worked in eastern Afghanistan to help establish new schools and health clinics, and deliver electricity to the citizens of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. Ragaei was so committed to our mission and to the people of Afghanistan that he volunteered to serve a second year.

With the work of people such as Ragaei, the civilian surge we launched in Afghanistan in 2009 has made a tremendous impact, strengthening the capacity of the Afghan Government and laying a foundation for long-term sustainable development. Though we are shocked and saddened by this loss and will miss Ragaei, our efforts will continue.

Read the entire statement here.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah also released the following statement:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On behalf of President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the American people, I have sent my deepest condolences to the family of USAID Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Abdelfattah who died yesterday in Afghanistan along with several members of the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan civilians during a terrorist attack in Kunar Province. This tragedy is a testament to the deep commitment and sacrifice of our dedicated staff who serve in conflict countries like Afghanistan around the world.

Ragaei recently began a voluntary second tour in Afghanistan in order to continue his critical support of Afghanistan’s stability and long-term development.  His hard work has helped to bring key services and improvements to the people of Afghanistan such as schools, health clinics, and electricity to the citizens of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces.

Prior to joining USAID, Ragaei had more than 15 years of professional development experience both in the United States and overseas. He was also working to complete a PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization at Virginia Tech University.

Read the whole statement here.

Mr. Abdelfattah is survived by his two teenage sons and wife.  We don’t know anything more about him except that he has a Picasa photo gallery with wonderful photos from Cairo and Luxor (and more) and that prior to joining USAID, he worked as a  planning supervisor for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

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Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y., and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo who were killed in the same attack were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. According to DOD, they died Aug. 8, in Sarkowi, in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when they encountered an insurgent who detonated a suicide vest.  Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga., was assigned  to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Carson, Colo.

Lohud.com reports that Major Kennedy entered the Army on May 27, 2000, after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He leaves behind wife, Kami, and two twin children, a boy and a girl under age 2. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart posthumously according to a DOD spokesman.

Sgt. Major Griffin had been deployed to Afghanistan since March 13. It was his first deployment in the country after having served three tours in Iraq. He had also been deployed to Kuwait and the Balkans during his Army career. Griffin was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, according to information provided by Fort Carson.

The AP reports that Major Gray was commissioned in October 1997 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps after serving as an enlisted airman and was one of the Air Force’s first career air liaison officers.

Our thoughts and prayers to the families of the departed and the recovery of those wounded.

How. Many. More?

Domani Spero