CHICAGO — A young diplomat from River Forest, Ill., was among five Americans killed Saturday in an explosion in Afghanistan, according to her family and the U.S. State Department.
Anne Smedinghoff was 25, said her father Tom Smedinghoff, who was reached by phone.
“She was doing what she loved and she was doing great things,” her father said. “We’re just in total shock.”
In remarks to an audience of consulate employees Sunday in Istanbul, Secretary of State John Kerry said he had met Anne Smedinghoff when he had been in Afghanistan two weeks ago and recalled her as “vivacious, smart, capable.”
In Turkey today, Kerry called Smedinghoff a “selfless, idealistic young woman” lost to a “horrific attack.”
Kerry said Smedinghoff died in an attempt to deliver textbooks to schoolchildren in Afghanistan.
“A brave American was determined to brighten the light of learning through books written in the native tongue of students that she had never met, but whom she felt compelled to help,” Kerry said, according to a State Department transcript. “She was met by cowardly terrorists determined to bring darkness and death to total strangers.”
Tom Smedinghoff said Kerry called him Saturday morning to let him know what happened to his daughter.
“She was one of the people who was helping to coordinate his visit, she got to meet him. He spoke glowingly of the work she’s been doing,” Smedinghoff said of Kerry’s comments about his daughter, who The Washington Post said was the first U.S. diplomat to be killed in Afghanistan since the war began.
“He spoke very highly of her. It was very good to hear,” her father said.
Anne Smedinghoff was killed with three U.S. soldiers and a civilian employee of the Defense Department, Kerry said in a statement. They were in a convoy of vehicles in Zabul province when an improvised explosive device detonated, killing them, Kerry said.
Tom Smedinghoff said his daughter went into the Foreign Service right out of college. Her first post was in Venezuela and she volunteered to go to Afghanistan, where she had been since July.
As a diplomat, she was working in the public diplomacy department for the local population. She was helping women and working for equality for women, and with schools and local businesses there. Anne simply adored her job, her father said.
“She was living in a compound that was heavily fortified and she was always trying to get out and do things for the population.”
Smedinghoff said he only knew a few details of the last moments of her life.
“She was in a convoy … somebody with a car or a truck laden with explosives rammed into her vehicle.”