June 01, 2020 - Present
Wednesday, September 09, 2020 - 10:15 a.m.
We have a new member, Lance Bryan! Welcome aboard Lance!
Tuesday, September 08, 2020 - 5:15 p.m.
Joel Rigby, IPO Athens, posted the below story to Facebook today. For those of you who do not have Facebook I thought you would find this an interesting read:
Most of my friends don’t really know or understand what I do for the Dept of State, I was once told by someone that they thought I was a mailman which made me laugh. The below article about a recent experience I had while carrying out my duty’s was posted today on tech@state an online Information Resource Management (IRM) site that shares news and stores from the field.
The Prime Minister and I
September 8, 2020
Foreign Service officers and specialists serving overseas have many stories to tell, but ask around and you will discover that our colleagues usually have one they love to tell above all others. Information Programs Officer (IPO) Joel Rigby at U.S. Embassy Athens just experienced his most memorable event.
Joel says, “We’ve all had that moment during our careers that we’ll never forget. You know, the one that makes you feel like it was worth all the hardships and dragging the family across the globe to live in sometimes harsh conditions. That moment began with a 10 pm telephone call on August 25, 2020. I was notified that I would have to establish a secure call between the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the White House on the following evening.”
Like so many in his position, Joel has supported many POTUS and Secretary of State visits, and attended their accompanying meet & greets throughout his career. However, this was the first time he would establish a secure call between two heads of state and remain alone in the room with one of them. He was notified that he should arrive at the Prime Minister’s office at 7 pm – one hour before the scheduled call with President Trump. That hour gave Joel the time to install the secure phone, coordinate the connection, and test for voice quality. When he arrived, he was greeted by the office’s technical member and was asked to remain in the room during the call to ensure his assistance was readily available if needed. This gentleman also advised the Prime Minister would arrive just before the scheduled call.
Joel told Tech@State how the evening’s activities proceeded. He was first escorted into the Prime Minister’s office. “I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at just how accommodating the Prime Minister’s staff was. I was not subjected to any kind of security search. I immediately began to set up the device so I could test and make certain it was ready for the Prime Minister’s arrival. I noticed that my counterpart, whom was escorting me, suddenly rose to his feet. Then I heard from behind someone in perfect English with a Greek accent say, ‘Is it going to work?’ I turned to see the Prime Minister walking into the office towards me and take a seat next to where I was working. My anxiety level immediately shot through the roof like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert. Never in my 22 years with the Department have I ever been this close to a foreign leader. At that same moment, I realized he represented the country known as the cradle of democracy – something I feel deeply about and believe my efforts help promote. Keep in mind, I still had to set up the equipment, test it with the Department, and there was still almost an hour before the scheduled call. What was I going to do with the Prime Minister sitting right next to me for all that time?”
Let’s take a short break and mention that there’s no reason to be surprised that Joel heard Prime Minister Mitsotakis speaking fluent English. The Prime Minister attended Harvard University for a Bachelor Degree in social studies. At Stanford University, he received a Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy and later attended the Harvard Business School to earn an MBA.
Joel went on to say, “So here I was thinking that I was going to become one with the wall wood paneling with almost an hour to go and the Prime Minister just a few feet away. I hadn’t been this nervous since the birth of my son. He must have felt my anxiety because he immediately started making small talk while watching the news, which featured the speech he had just given in Parliament. He asked me if I liked Greece and we talked about the scorching hot weather. Really, the time flew by in a blur. I’m not sure why, but I never thought a leader of a country would be so down to earth and friendly. He seemed just as cordial in his interactions with his own staff.”
Ten minutes before the call, the Prime Minister was joined by the Ambassador of Greece to the United States, Alexandra Papadopoulou, and the Head of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office, Ambassador Eleni Sourani.
“The call finally began and I melted into the background trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. As reported in the press, the discussion focused on tensions between Greece and Turkey. When it concluded, I commenced to packing up the gear while the Prime Minister chatted with some of his staff. He noticed I was preparing to leave and stopped the conversation to express his gratitude to myself and the U.S. Mission to Greece for facilitating the call. Afterwards, my counterpart escorted me out and once out of earshot, I asked him if the Prime Minister was always this nice and he replied, ‘Yes, he treats everyone with respect and is just down to earth.’ I have found this trait in almost every Greek citizen that I have met.”
Joel and his family have several years remaining in Athens. Whenever diplomats in the embassy discuss the host nation’s Prime Minister, Joel will only smile and think to himself, “Yeah, great man.”
Tuesday, September 08, 2020 - 12:35 p.m.
Jane Florence furnished a new snail-mail address. Thanks Jane for helping me keep my database up-to-date! Her e-mail address and phone number remain the same!
Friday, September 04, 2020 - 1:35 p.m.
Received word from Tim Lawson this afternoon. He indicated that he has been having some health issues that have impacted his activities, including email communications. He said he is still proud to be a CANDOER and enjoys reading all the material therein. I am saying Prayers for him to overcome his health issues.
Thursday, September 03, 2020 - 1:15 p.m.
No one has heard from Tim Lawson, who retired in Thailand, for months. Several of us have tried to contact him with no results. This morning I sent an e-mail to the RSO and IPO in Bangkok and asked them to assist in the welfare and whereabouts of Tim. When I hear from them I will let you all know what is going on!
Monday, August 31, 2020 - 8:45 a.m.
I received the following from Ed Wilson:
I went into the hospital on August 21st and ended up having quadruple by-pass heart surgery. It went really great as I only had to spend six days here and got home last Thursday, August 28th.
With the good Lord's help working through Joan, I willl have a complete recovery. This will take a few weeks but we couldn't be happier and we will not rush anything. Amazing how many of these surgeries are taking pleace everywhere. I greatly appreciate everyone's support and reaching out to me. It means the world.
The following contact information is furnished for those wishing to contact Eddie:
294 North Hambletonian Drive
Iverness, FL 34453
Tel: (352) 726-0303
Thursday, August 14, 2020 - 8:45 p.m.
It is with sadness I inform you that George Gorisek has been diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to his pelvis area. He has recently started Chemotherapy treatments.
George worked for the Department for over 34 years as an employee and 14 years as a contractor. He worked in OC/T (Room 5440 MS) with me for many years! He is one of the good guys!
I am furnishing contact information for anyone who wish to send George a card.
George F. Gorisek
162 Augustine Court
Kearneysville, West Virginia 25430
His daughter, Christine, is accepting all calls and e-mail messages on his behalf, so if you wish to contact her to wish him the best, the following is furnished. She will make sure to pass the information on to him.
Christine Forrest - Email: email@example.com. Her telephone number is (703) 303-4992.
Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 3:15 p.m.Death of George Dunlap
I received word from Bill Ford that George Dunlap had passed away on August 8, 2020.
Anyone wishing to send Margaret condolences the following is furnished:
303 Maple Leaf Drive
Antlers, OK 74523
Thursdeay, August 13, 2020 - 3:10 p.m.Death of Mike Bretz
I received word from Erick Morin that Mike Bretz passed away after a serious fall in his back yard. He injured his head and neck and underwent several hours of surgery on the seventh but passed away from his injuries on the 10th of August.
Anyone wishing to send condolenes to:
10955 Southcoate Village Drive
Bealeton, VA 22712-9475
In addition, Robert Novak furnished a memorial book that you can leave condolences to the family. It may be found at:
Susan Musser has furnished all new contact information. She now resides in Florida. Thanks Susan for helping me keep my records up-to-date!
Friday, July 24, 2020 - 3:45 p.m.Death of Nivea Ribera
It is with sadness and deep regret that I inform you that I received word from Bob that his wife passsed away this morning.
Anyone wishing to send condolences to Bob the following is furnished:
Robert C. Ribera
821 Lake Port Boulevard, Apt. M507
Leesburg, FL 34748
Home: (352) 460-0691
Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 2:45 p.m.Death of Benjamin Ray "Candy" Candelaria
Medal of Honor Recipient
I received word from Erick Moran of the death of one of our colleagues and a good friend of Erick's:
Benjamin Ray Candelaria (aka Candy) passed away peacefully in Cottonwood, AZ after suffering a number of years from Alzheimer's disease.
His wife of 43 years, Barbara, and his stepson, Christopher Silva precede him in death.
He leaves his daughter, Rebecca Cooper (Gene) of Prior Lake, MN; his son Benjamin Candelaria Jr. (Hannah Roosa) of Providence, RI; his daughter, Marilyn Granados and his son, Matthew Candelaria, (Minta) both of Prescott, AZ. There are 8 grandchildren who include Christopher, Emily and Nicholas Cooper; Benjamin Ray III, Hannah and Sophie Candelaria; Sarah and Samantha Granados.
Ben loved his grandchildren as long as they didn't get between him and his television. "You make a better door than a window!"
Born and raised in Redlands, CA, he worked in the orange groves lighting smudge pots while attending Redlands High where he met his wife, Barbara. He joined the United States Navy as a teenager (fudging his date of birth) during WWII before transitioning to the United States Air Force at its inception. In the Air Force, he achieved the rank of Chief Master Sergeant (E9) and earned countless awards and the Medal of Honor. He served in three wars: WWII, Korean and Vietnam. He retired from the USAF in 1975 at which time he went to work for both Rockwell and Raytheon Intl. in Corona, CA. He then joined the US Department of State and served over ten years. His military and DOS careers included assignments in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the United States. He put down permanent roots with Barbara in Prescott, AZ in 1992 after retirement. Barbara passed away in 1997.
Ben was an avid golfer and was on many a bowling team. He taught each of his children how to spot bowl, which was approached with the discipline and seriousness he felt was deserved of his much-loved sport. The last love of his life was a 1992 BMW 535i, picked up from the factory in Stockholm, Sweden and shipped to Long Beach Harbor where he welcomed her with open arms. Just ask anybody. His friends, acquaintances or even the mailman. Yep, they all knew how much she meant to him. Ben enjoyed a good meal and would eat just about anything except mushrooms. "Fungus!" When a bowl of "frijoles and beans" was placed before him his reliable exclamation would be "I've died and gone to heaven!" He must be enjoying a bowl with flour tortillas and chili right about now.
There will not be a funeral service held in Prescott, rather a military honors ceremony will be held at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA at a date to be determined.
Monday, June 01,2020 - 10:30 a.m.
Will Saylor furnished a new e-mail address and telephone number. Thank you for helping me keep my data base up-to-date!