The Foreign Service Journal, December 2023

10 DECEMBER 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL LETTERS Remembering 1998 I very much appreciated your look back at the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings in the July/ August Foreign Service Journal. The retrospective was informative and very moving. At the time, I was stationed at Ramstein Air Base, which was the jumping-off point for the entire range of emergency response and support. Nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center was the receiving point for the casualties. The selfless people I met during the response to that tragedy were perhaps some of the finest people I have encountered—and inspired me to join the State Department. Thumbs-up to the editorial staff for the piece and all your excellent articles. Karl Duckworth FSO, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs U.S. Embassy Moscow A Rude Awakening I read with interest Louis Sell’s gripping article about the October 1993 crisis at the Russian White House (October 2023 Foreign Service Journal). It brought back memories. I was serving at the time at our embassy in Bucharest, where we followed the unfolding and alarming situation in Moscow as best we could. Developments there were even more unsettling for our local friends, many of whom strongly believed that whenever Moscow sneezed, Romania caught a cold, or worse. One minor aspect of the article that caught my attention, however, was the prevalence of intruders at the embassy compound at that time. It reminded me of a similar incident at Spaso House in 1967, where I was living as staff aide to Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson. At about 3 a.m. on Jan. 27, the Spaso House majordomo, Clemente Pandin, burst into my ground-floor apartment, wide-eyed and breathless, woke me up, and said that a Soviet soldier in uniform had entered the building. He told me that since he had already spoken with the young man and, unsuccessfully, urged him to leave, the situation was mine to deal with. Together we left my apartment and met the soldier, who appeared to me to be mentally unbalanced, high on drugs, or drunk. He was unarmed, however, and seemed to be neither aggressive nor threatening. In questioning the soldier, we learned that he had climbed over the back garden wall and entered the building through an unlocked basement door (although a Soviet militia guard was posted at the front entrance to the residence, he could not see the whole garden). The intruder said calmly that he simply wanted to meet the recently arrived U.S. ambassador. We told him (untruthfully) that the ambassador was not present and eventually convinced him to leave, escorting him to the main entrance. When the young trooper walked down the driveway and reached the front gate, he indubitably was grabbed by the guard and quickly carted off to an uncertain but certainly unpleasant fate. Ambassador Thompson, whose bedroom was on the second floor, heard nothing and did not know what had happened until we told him later that morning. Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have urged the seemingly harmless, if befuddled, soldier to exit out the back and leave the premises over the same wall that he had scaled to gain entry. That might have spared him untold difficulties. However, clarity of thought, regrettably, is often in short supply when one has been rudely awakened from a deep sleep at 3 a.m. Jonathan B. Rickert Senior FSO, retired Bainbridge Island, Washington n Share your thoughts about this month’s issue. Submit letters to the editor: