The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

60 MAY 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Minister Teodor Melescanu wrote me a letter expressing his and his ministry’s “cordial thanks and complete gratitude for your exceptional contribution to the development and amplification of Romanian-American relations in all areas of common interest.” Totally unexpected but very welcome. Afghanistan: Tragedy and Solidarity BRUCE K. BYERS Valentine’s Day, 1979. Ambassador Adolph Dubs was abducted on his way to work and held captive in the Kabul Hotel by unknown men. Everyone at the embassy worked to gain his freedom. Despite our efforts to negotiate with the foreign and interior ministries, Amb. Dubs was murdered in the hotel room by his abductors a few hours after his capture; the embassy doctor later confirmed this. We were shocked and devastated, but our Foreign Service family rallied in this chaotic time of violent uncertainty. The entire diplomatic community expressed solidarity with us and outrage at the Afghan government’s response. They supported our efforts to move forward under extreme conditions, and move forward we did. Worldwide: IMS Supports the Mission MARK “ANIMAL” JENNINGS I am proud of completing a temporary duty assignment (TDY) from Managua to Port-au-Prince just after the 2010 Haiti earthquake for a month. I am proud of offering TDY support to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from Yaoundé. I am proud of using my language skills to support the FS mission worldwide despite being told: “Information management specialists do not have a need to speak the local language; they never talk to outside contractors.” Brazil: The Durability of U.S. Assistance EMILIO IODICE In 1982, I went to Brazil as a commercial counselor. My role was to expand exports and business with Latin America’s largest nation, and I searched the country for opportunities for U.S. firms and Brazilian partners. In the hinterlands of the Northeast, the challenge was water. Poor farmers bought water from merchants to survive. In the countryside, however, I discovered estates with green fields filled with fruits and vegetables. The Peace Corps, said the farmers, had dug artesian wells in the 1960s. The wells were sunk into underground rivers. Local and national politics had ended the effort. Yet decades later, those wells still provided sustenance to the area. As we returned to Brasília from the Northeast, our plane flew over that oasis in the desert. At that moment, I was proud of the FS and of being an American. Canada: Ready for Y2K AMBASSADOR LISA BOBBIE SCHREIBER HUGHES I was always proud to serve our country, to contribute, to “serve” rather than merely “work.” As a second-tour staff assistant, I described my job as “photocopying for my country.” Irony aside, I’ll relate one potentially historic event. At the turn of the last century, all were seized with concern over “Y2K.” What would happen to communications? Health care? Safety, security, national defense? No one knew. In response to this possible threat, all diplomatic missions worldwide stood ready at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999, to report back to the Operations Center on the state of our posts. I was principal officer in western Canada (Calgary), surrounded by a satellite phone, a cell phone, and a landline. The clock struck midnight. All systems were fine, as we reported back to the OpsCenter. Y2K was a nonevent. Nevertheless, I felt pride in being there for my country, should she have needed me. Yugoslavia: Reversing a Visa Denial BOB RACKMALES My proudest moment came while serving as consul in Zagreb in 1969, when I reversed a long series of visa denials to a former auto worker in Michigan. He had returned to his native country after World War II, but his repeated efforts to rejoin relatives in the U.S. were thwarted by a succession of consular officers who based their decisions on the existence of a lengthy FBI report concerning him. After reading the report I concluded, and convinced the department, that it contained nothing that would serve as grounds for visa denial. My pride in this outcome was tempered by regret that it was so long in coming.