Diplomatic Security Honors 137 Fallen at the Dedication of Its Memorial Wall
The first person in the history of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to perish in the line of duty was Diplomatic Courier James Wright, who died in a plane crash in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1943. Most recently, Moa’ath Farhan Shyef, a local police officer, was killed in a terrorist attack in November 2014 while protecting a checkpoint near U.S. Embassy Sana’a, Yemen.
In the 62 years between these two incidents, 135 more brave souls lost their lives under similar circumstances. The names of these Foreign Service, Civil Service, military service members, Marine Security Guards, Foreign Service Nationals, local guards, and third-party contractors are now immortalized on the DS Memorial Wall.
At a solemn ceremony on September 18, 2015, close to 150 family members of the fallen had a chance to see the names of their loved ones etched on the wall. Although nothing can ever compensate for their loss, this event was an opportunity for them to know how deeply DS appreciates their sacrifice.
Addressing the audience, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Gregory B. Starr stated, “Through this memorial, we hope everyone who serves with DS – now or in the future – will know of the sacrifices made in the defense of their country and freedom by those who have come before. We hope it will inspire as well, for we continue to serve and protect in insecure and dangerous places today, and will do so in the future. For colleagues, it will stir memories of shared moments and sacrifices. For family members of those lost, and visitors to our headquarters, it will remind all that the highest price of standing for freedom in a dangerous world is the tragic loss of life.”
The State Department continues to advance the cause of democracy and freedom in unstable regions around the globe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. If DS were not there to provide a safe and secure environment in which to operate, then the Department would not be able to advance U.S. foreign policy in some of the most critical regions of the world. Sometimes, this involves the irreparable, tragic loss of life.
Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, “In short, wherever we face a war or a crisis, wherever we fight to save lives in a disaster or foster a fragile peace or help local communities improve their own security, all of those places, you will find a DS agent – not because it’s easy, not because it’s safe, not because we simply want to do good, but because our diplomatic mission is essential to our nation’s security, to our prosperity, and to the values that motivate each and every one of us.”
Lieutenant General Ronald Bailey, Deputy Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps spoke of each of the 12 Marine Security Guards listed on this wall. He closed by saying, “We live in a world where those determined to harm the United States and its allies will stop at little. But the future does not belong to them. It belongs to us. Let me be clear, these men we honor today died for a noble cause.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Bill A. Miller said, “Those we memorialize today were not all outwardly alike; they were of different colors, religions, and nationalities. But where they were alike was in the fact that regardless of all else, they did share a common commitment to protect others.
“In the Old Testament, it is related that Isaiah heard the Lord’s call of, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah said, “Here am I. Send me!” And in the New Testament we hear the words of Jesus as he said, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I believe that if you examine those we honor today, you will find that their lives too were marked by service, commitment, and true sacrifice.”
Just as their names are forever etched on this wall, the sacrifice made by each and every fallen is indelibly etched in the minds and hearts of all who see this memorial in the lobby of DS headquarters in Rosslyn, Virginia.
To read more about each person listed on the wall, visit www.dsmemorial.state.gov.