Every year in recognition of Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) joins law enforcement agencies in honoring the brave men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty. Although both observances are primarily recognized in the United States, over the years DSS has expanded its celebration of this observance to internationally recognize all of our law enforcement and security partners who have fallen in the line of duty throughout the world. These days are particularly poignant to us here in DSS, given the work of our special agents at home and abroad to protect and defend our nation’s vital national security interests.
Through the Diplomatic Security Special Agents Association, we participate in a number of events during National Police Week to recognize the fallen, including an annual 5k run, and laying wreaths at DSS facilities and the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
This week, we recognized our fallen in a special ceremony at DSS headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan spoke at the ceremony, paying special homage to the 19 individuals we recently added to our DS Memorial, which honors those who have given their lives to protect U.S. diplomacy. With the inclusion of these heroes, this memorial now includes 156 names, all of whom are forever part of the global DSS family.
The names engraved on our DS Memorial include Foreign and Civil Service employees, members of the U.S. Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, as well as other U.S. military personnel, and third-party contractors. The majority of the 156 names belong to our dedicated foreign national locally employed staff and security guards. Without loyal colleagues like these individuals, the Department would simply not be able to advance U.S. interests abroad.
The 19 colleagues we recognized this year represent the diversity in culture, backgrounds, and skillsets that embody Diplomatic Security and the Department: an American trainer; three local law enforcement officers from Guinea and Ghana; two foreign national regional security office investigators from El Salvador and Iraq; and 13 security guards from Afghanistan, El Salvador, Bolivia, Peru, and South Sudan. Ten of these guards were killed by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device targeting the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 31, 2017.
Among these 19 heroes is Amel Misconi, the first woman to be included on the DS Memorial Wall. Amel, an investigator with the U.S. Embassy Baghdad Regional Security Office, was killed by insurgents in May 2007 when she was working with a U.S. interagency task force that was attempting to free her husband, also a U.S. embassy employee who had been taken hostage. Also among these 19 is James Damon Creach, an American trainer who played an important role in the Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance training program in Jordan.
These individuals join too many others on the DS Memorial who gave their life in service to our ideals of democracy and freedom. As the State Department continues to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives around the globe, DSS will continue to secure our efforts in some of the most dangerous regions of the world. As this memorial forever reminds us, sometimes, this involves paying the ultimate sacrifice.
Just as their names are forever etched on this wall, the sacrifice made by each and every fallen colleague is indelibly etched in the hearts and minds of everyone who sees our memorial in the lobby of DSS headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
To read more about DSS’ heroes, visit: www.dsmemorial.state.gov.
About the Author: Christian Schurman serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Director of the Diplomatic Security Service at the U.S. Department of State.