All morning, I’ve been looking at photographs of Anne Smedinghoff, the 25 year-old Johns Hopkins grad and U.S. aid worker who was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday. She just looks so young.
Smedinghoff, who was killed along with five other Americans, was the first American diplomat to die on the job since the 2012 debacle in Benghazi; she and her colleagues were traveling through the countryside to deliver books to an Afghan school. Apparently the attack was supposed to target a provincial governor, but hit the American convoy instead.
Smedinghoff grew up in the Chicago suburbs and came to Johns Hopkins eager to learn about the world. She majored in international studies, and co-chaired the Foreign Affairs Symposium. After graduating in 2009, she joined the U.S. Foreign Service, first working in Venezuela. In July, 2102 she began work at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul — an assignment she volunteered for — where she served as an assistant information officer in the public affairs section.
In a statement, Smedinghoff’s parents said that “she particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war. We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world. She was such a wonderful woman–strong, intelligent, independent, and loving.”
The Hopkins Hub spoke with a fellow alumna Julie Miller, who also worked State Department jobs. “Anne was never naive to the challenges, and we spoke frankly about difficult issues in security, infrastructure, and unfortunate corruption,” Miller wrote in an email, “but we both knew that the fruits of our efforts—both militarily and diplomatically—would not be determined for many, many more years.”
Other Baltimoreans who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq include Capt. Sara Knutson, 27; Jameel T. Freeman, 26; Maj. Robert Marchanti, 48; Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez, 28; and Capt. Charles Ridgley, 40.
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