On June 29, 2021, the U.S. Department of State celebrated retired Liberian staff member Jenkins Vangehn as a Hero of U.S. Diplomacy. He was recognized for his dedication and courage in advancing the Department of State’s mission during the second Liberian civil war and his over 19 years of service to U.S. Embassy Monrovia.
The “Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy” initiative, launched in September 2019, highlights the stories of modern-day heroism displayed by employees of the U.S. State Department and recognizes the actions taken by individuals who have “have displayed sound policy judgment, as well as intellectual, moral and even physical courage while advancing U.S. foreign policy goals.”
During the second Liberian civil war, Mr. Vangehn worked in the political and economic section at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. He courageously supported the Embassy and its presence in Liberia through the most challenging of circumstances, providing then-U.S. Ambassador John Blaney with vital support, including critical information and updates from the conflict’s front and from up-country. He also worked to identify American citizens who were trapped throughout Monrovia due to the violence, and, at great risk, met them at their homes to accompany them to the Embassy. Amid tense encounters and shortages of basic necessities, Mr. Vangehn assisted in coordinating logistics for the Embassy’s repatriation and evacuation efforts. He continuously demonstrated dedication, selflessness, and unwavering courage in advancing U.S. Embassy efforts to support peace and security as well as to promote the economic and social recovery of Liberia.
Mr. Vangehn was honored with a virtual ceremony in Washington, D.C. He was joined by former U.S. Ambassadors to Liberia John Blaney and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Belinda Jackson Farrier, and Foreign Service Institute Deputy Director Joan Polaschik.