Anne Smedinghoff father says U.S. diplomat died doing what she loved

This undated photo provided by Tom Smedinghoff, shows AnneSmedinghoff. AnneSmedinghoff, 25, was killed Saturday (AP)

April 9, 2013 3:57:31 AM PDT
The family of an American diplomat who was among those killed in a terrorist attack in southern Afghanistan has taken solace in knowing she died doing what she loved.

Anne Smedinghoff is the first American diplomat to die on the job since last year's attack in Benghazi, Libya, and was one of five Americans killed Saturday in a suicide car bombing while they were delivering textbooks to school children. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

She grew up in River Forest, Ill. - an upscale suburb about 10 miles west of Chicago - the daughter of an attorney and the second of four children.

"We're still in shock. It's hard to fathom. . . Immensely proud. We could not be prouder of Anne and the work she was doing," said her father Tom Smedinghoff.

"Anne lived a very full life. She embraced each day. She encouraged others to embrace each day," said Mary Beth Smedinghoff, mother.

The 25-year-old suburban Chicago woman was remembered as having a quiet ambition and displayed a love of global affairs from an early age. She joined the U.S. Foreign Service straight out of college and volunteered for missions in perilous locations worldwide.

"She really had a strong interest in foregin affairs and international relations. She felt that was an area where she could make a very important contribution," said Tom Smedinghoff.

She attended the highly selective Fenwick High School, followed by Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in international studies and became a key organizer of the university's annual Foreign Affairs Symposium in 2008. The event draws high-profile speakers from around the world.

Her first assignment for the foreign service was in Caracas, Venezuela, and she volunteered for the Afghanistan assignment after that. Her father said family members would tease her about signing up for a less dangerous location, maybe London or Paris.

Smedinghoff was an up-and-coming employee of the State Department who garnered praise from the highest ranks. She was to finish her Afghanistan assignment as a press officer in July. Already fluent in Spanish, she was gearing up to learn Arabic, first for a year in the U.S. and then in Cairo, before a two-year assignment in Algeria.

Smedinghoff's remains were flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for an official ceremony, according to State Department, which added the family had asked Monday's ceremony be private.

The family is expected to attend along with Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, Ambassador David Pearce and other officials.

Funeral arrangements for Smedinghoff are pending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.