The Foreign Service Journal, October 2019

54 OCTOBER 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL A Lifetime of Contributions to American Diplomacy O n June 24, 2010, Ambassador Lowell Bruce Laingen received the American Foreign Service Association’s highest award, the Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy, in recognition of his distinguished 38-year Foreign Service career and a lifetime of public service. Ambassador Laingen served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1949, and served in Germany, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Malta, where he was U.S. ambassador from 1977 to 1979. Later that year he returned to Tehran on a temporary basis as chargé d'affaires, but within months he was taken hostage when Iranian protestors overran the U.S. embassy and held him captive, with others, for 14 months. For his leader- ship and courage during that ordeal, he received the State Department’s Award for Valor and the Defense Depart- ment’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service. From 1981 to 1987, Ambassador Laingen served as vice president of the National Defense University, a post traditionally held by a senior diplomat. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1987. That year he was elected to AFSA’s Governing Board as a retiree representative and appointed chairman of the AFSA Awards Committee (which later became the Awards and Plaques Committee). It was a post he would hold for two decades. In gratitude for his distinguished and dedicated service, the association gave Ambassador Laingen a special award of appreciation in 2006. As a Journal report on that ceremony noted: “During his tenure, he succeeded in greatly improving the standing of the AFSA awards and consistently provided wise guidance.” The association remains grateful for his generous assistance. From 1991 to 2006, Ambassador Laingen rendered simi- larly exemplary service as president of the American Acad- emy of Diplomacy, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to fostering the highest standards in the conduct of diplomacy. He was honored with AAD’s Excellence in Diplomacy Award on retirement from that position. In addition, Ambassador Laingen served as executive director of the National Commission on the Public Service (the Volcker Commission) from 1987 to 1990, and in 1998 held the Sol Linowitz Chair in International Relations at Hamilton College in New York, where he taught a semi- nar on the Iranian Revolution. He continued to do public speaking and served on the boards of A Presidential Class- room for Young Americans, the Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, No Greater Love and the National Defense University Foundation. —Susan B. Maitra As was typical of him, Bruce just smiled and said, “Well, he did some good things, too.” It was sad that Bruce’s “mission impossible” in Tehran ended so tragically with the attack on the embassy and prolonged hostage crisis. What was so striking about Bruce was that, with all the fury and madness around him, he never stopped being an optimist and the perfect professional. I am proud to have known him as a boss, a colleague and a friend. As the Iranians say, Ruh-heshaanShaad .Mayhis spirit be joyful. n Ambassador Bruce Laingen receives AFSA’s Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy on June 24, 2010. John Limbert, at left, presented the award; AFSA Executive Director Ian Houston and President Susan Johnson look on. AFSA