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U.S. diplomat killed in Afghanistan to be honored in memorial service

A jogger runs past a U.S. flag near the home of diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, 25, in River Forest, Illinois, April 8, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress
A jogger runs past a U.S. flag near the home of diplomat Anne Smedinghoff, 25, in River Forest, Illinois, April 8, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress

(Reuters) - A young diplomat killed in Afghanistan will be remembered at memorial service on Tuesday at the suburban Chicago high school she attended, and where just a few months ago she spoke with students about her experiences in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Anne Smedinghoff, 25, was killed along with four other Americans in a car bomb blast Saturday as their convoy traveled in Zabul province to deliver textbooks to school children.

A 2005 graduate of Fenwick High School, a private Catholic school in Oak Park, Illinois, Smedinghoff had spoken with students about her experiences in the U.S. Foreign Service in December, Associate Principal Richard Borsch said.

"She's a remarkable young lady," Borsch said. "I think maybe the most fun we had with her was at lunch when she was going over what her experiences had been in foreign countries and just how different the cultures are."

Fenwick will hold a memorial mass for Smedinghoff on Tuesday morning in the school's auditorium led by Reverend Richard Peddicord, the school's president.

"It is clear that Anne Smedinghoff will be remembered as a model of the excellence to which all of us at Fenwick hold ourselves," Peddicord said in a statement.

Smedinghoff, a 2009 graduate of Johns Hopkins University, had been assigned to Caracas, Venezuela, before volunteering for the assignment in Afghanistan. She was serving as an assistant information officer in Afghanistan when she was killed.

Funeral arrangements were not known.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday he had met Smedinghoff on his trip last month to Afghanistan and she was "everything that is right about our Foreign Service."

Her mother, Mary Beth Smedinghoff, told CNN she had always loved to travel and see new things, and wanted to be a positive force and her father, Thomas Smedinghoff, said he was not surprised when she volunteered to serve in Afghanistan.

"She was a woman who loved life, who was adventuresome, really wanted to make a difference in the world and really found a perfect fit in her work in the Foreign Service," Thomas Smedinghoff, her father, said in the CNN interview.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Lisa Shumaker)

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