Slain young diplomat's parents say they have no regrets

(CBS News) DOVER, Del. - They were working for peace and it cost them their lives. Five Americans were killed this weekend in Afghanistan from a car bomb. Monday, two of them returned home: Army Sgt. Christopher Ward of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hi Ian Chi, a civilian Defense Department employee from California.

Also killed was Ann Smedinghoff, a 25-year-old from suburban Chicago, a U.S. Defense Department diplomat. Her parents said they are proud of their daughter and what she was doing. "The words just won't come. But we're blessed," Anne's mother, Mary Beth, said.

Smedinghoff wanted to change the world. Her parents, Tom and Mary Beth, said Anne asked to be assigned to Afghanistan.

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"I somewhat kiddingly said, 'You know, what about Paris or London?' And she said, 'no, no, no, that would be boring for me, what would I do there?'" Tom said. "She wanted to be where need was there and where things were happening where she thought she could make a contribution."

Smedinghoff worked with schools, women's organizations and musical groups. She helped arrange the visit of the Afghan Youth Orchestra to the Kennedy Center in February. On the day she was killed, she was delivering books to a grade school library.

Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff's 25-year-old daughter, Anne, was killed while delivering books to an Afghanistan school on behalf of the U.S. Defense Department along with three others.
Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff's 25-year-old daughter, Anne, was killed while delivering books to an Afghanistan school on behalf of the U.S. Defense Department along with three others.
CBS News

While her parents said her attitude was dangerous, they believe it was "absolutely" worth it.

"I do think she was cognizant of the danger, but she felt, you know, it was under control and this was worth doing," Tom said.

Both parents also said they had no regrets.

"As awful, and I mean as absolutely awful as the last 48 hours have been, that was Anne fulfilled. Anne was fulfilled by what she was doing," Mary Beth said.

"So while we certainly wish it hadn't turned out this way," Tom added, "no, we don't regret her going in and doing what she did."

The other Americans killed in the blast were three of the soldiers in the detail protecting Smedinghoff, along with a Defense Department translator. It is possible that with so many local officials knowing these books were coming, the Taliban was aware of the U.S. convoy in advance.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.

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