In the Line of Fire: American Diplomats in the Trenches

In the Line of Fire- American Diplomats in the Trenches

In the line of Fire

In the Line of Fire by Charles Ray

‘In the Line of Fire’ is a description of the dangers faced by American diplomats on a daily basis, in the words of those who have served the American people as diplomats abroad. It also contains a list of American diplomats who died or were killed in the line of duty since the beginning of the republic.

The editor, Charles Ray, served as a Foreign Service Officer for 30 years. During his career he was number two in the U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, first consul general to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and was U.S. ambassador to Cambodia and Zimbabwe. He also served in China and Thailand, and before joining the Foreign Service served 20 years in the U.S. Army, with tours in Vietnam, Germany, Korea, Panama, and several posts in the United States.
Frances McStay Adams was a Foreign Service spouse who served in Cairo as an assistant and the director of the Fulbright Program from 1950 to 1952 when her husband was stationed at the Embassy.

I was in charge of the Fulbright Program in Cairo in 1950 after the person in charge had left. This was when King Farouk was still ruler of Egypt.
We were there for the burning of Cairo and when members of the Muslim Brotherhood were marching in the streets. I was walking with my son one day to a Fulbrighter’s house when we saw a mob approaching. They were after foreigners, and were crossing out any words on signs that weren’t in Arabic. My son and I hid behind an apartment, and fortunately they didn’t find us.
It was a very dangerous time. We would have parties in our place for our friends, including Egyptians. We had a Mozart party when they were burning Cairo, and we were worried that people wouldn’t come because it was so dangerous in the street, but some came anyway. Afterwards, though, they were afraid to leave – some were neighbors who stayed in apartments above us in the building, and they were afraid to go up to their places – so we just stayed up all night. We were a little afraid that they might start torching the place, but they never did.
There were some evacuations from Egypt, but not like the ones later in 1967. There were a lot of evacuations later, though.
Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Arlington, VA,


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Charles A. Ray
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