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Former Tehran Embassy hostage to speak at Radnor Memorial Library

Taken hostage in 1979, Metrinko spent 14 months as a prisoner

*** This event has been rescheduled to Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, November 7 at 7:30pm at Radnor Library, retired foreign service political officer Michael Metrinko will speak on U.S-Afghanistan Policy: Prospects of Success. Radnor Historical Society is co-sponsoring this event with the Library.

Metrinko has more than 40 years of experience in the Islamic World and was a member of the Tehran Embassy staff taken hostage in 1979, spending 14 months as a prisoner. All State Department and CIA employees taken hostage were awarded the State Department Award for Valor. Michael Metrinko received two: one for his time as a hostage and another for his daring rescue of Americans who had been jailed in Tabriz months before the Embassy take-over. After September 11, 2001, Metrinko returned to active service with assignments to Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Metrinko is a cousin of mine...our Ukrainian roots are deep in neighboring coal-mining towns about an hour and a half north of Philadelphia.

If I see Michael, it is usually at a big Christmas party in Delaware, or a wedding, or a funeral. It is never the right time to ask about his experience as a hostage in Iran. One time, after 9/11, I brought it up at the Christmas party and he said, Pam, you know you are dating yourself if you remember the hostage crisis. Then he smiled and said he was looking forward to going back to Afghanistan. His ambitions were intellectual and personal. I know that Michael was the opposite of your typical Embassy staffer, as he was warmly immersed in the local culture. I only know this because I read it in Mark Bowden's book, Guests of the Ayatollah where Michael emerged as one of the central figures in the hostage crisis. 

This event was planned early in 2012, long before the film Argo was released and it is a coincidence that Michael is speaking at the Library at the same time the film is still playing in theaters. People are talking not just about the excellent film, but the hostage crisis, so many years later.

Michael served as a senior advisor for DynCorp International, the U.S. Embassy and NATO forces. Since retirement, Metrinko served as Ministry Reform Advisor at the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at the United States Army War College until 2009 and is now an independent international affairs professional.

Michael Metrinko, away from Washington, now lives in Carlisle, PA. He told me he bought a house and planted a hundred trees.

See you at the Library,

Pam

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