US diplomat in Peshawar awarded heroism prize

December 7, 2009

Lynne Tracy was headed to work as principal officer at the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, in August 2008 when gunmen wielding AK-47 rifles ambushed her car.

The gunfire flattened her vehicle’s front two tires and riddled the body of the car with bullets as her driver jammed into reverse and sped away.
Tracy and her Pakistani driver and bodyguard all survived the Aug. 26, 2008, attack.

She made her way to the consulate later in the day and in the coming weeks led an effort to boost security even as some of her colleagues were moved to Islamabad or told to work from their homes.

For her efforts, Tracy was presented Monday with the Secretary of State’s Award for Heroism.

“Determined and unflappable, she stayed in Peshawar to look after the remaining consulate staff,” Hillary Clinton said in presenting the honor.

“Her decision to stay and lead not only boosted morale but inspired an even greater focus on strengthening the bonds of collaboration with the people of Pakistan to promote peace,  stability and security throughout the region,” she said.

Tracy, who completed her assignment in Peshawar in August 2009 and will soon assume the post of deputy chief of mission in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, paid special tribute her Pakistani driver and bodyguard.

“My brave Pakistan driver was the real hero of the day of the attack and every day after that, along with my Pakistani bodyguards, who made sure that I was able to continue doing my job,” she said. “We have an incredibly brave, loyal and talented local staff at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar.”

She also thanked the governor of the North West Frontier Province along with the area’s police and military forces, saying the “challenges before them are serious and far-reaching.”

“I am mindful of how many innocent Pakistanis have suffered and are continuing to suffer from violence perpetrated by those who are so bankrupt in their ideology and vision that they are
reduced to murdering women and children in markets and worshipers at mosques,” Tracy said.

“This is a common foe and a common cause.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang (Clinton presents Tracy with award as Tracy’s parents look on)

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