Today, we honor the memory of six lives taken eight years ago in Qalat, Zabul province. Foreign Service officer Anne Smedinghoff, 25; Staff Sgt Christopher Ward, 24; Specialist Wilbel Robles, 25; Specialist Delfin Santos, 24; an Afghan-American interpreter and an Afghan doctor whose respective families requested their names be kept private.
The team was on a mission that day to deliver books to schoolchildren on behalf of the American people. They were advancing one of the United States’ top priorities in Afghanistan: improving access to education and expanding academic opportunities for all young people. Over two decades in our enduring partnership, we have emphasized the critical role education can play in creating and sustaining peace for all Afghans.
In a ceremony marking this painful loss, Ambassador Ross Wilson, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Afghanistan, shared these remarks: “We pay tribute to those who died in serving their country abroad, and we do no not forget what they gave while endeavoring to help the people of Afghanistan. Now, as this nation faces a unique opportunity to create a just and durable peace, we hope for a lasting ceasefire so that Afghans can fully pursue their dreams to study, to work, and to flourish without fear. We mourn the deaths of these six colleagues, we remember their lives, and we honor their sacrifice.”