Examples of Excellence

From among the legions of outstanding diplomats who have served the United States since the middle of the 20th century, the following 25 individuals were chosen to exemplify the highest standards of the profession. The list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, or to suggest that others are not equally, if not more, deserving of such attention.


Robert D. Murphy (1894-1978)

Robert Murphy, a consummate diplomat and specialist on both intelligence matters and cooperative relations between FSOs and military counterparts, began his nearly 40-year career in 1917 as a code clerk in the American Legation in Bern, Switzerland. Four years later he officially entered the Foreign Service. Prior to World War II, Murphy served in various posts throughout Western Europe, including Zurich, Switzerland and Munich, Germany. He was consul in Paris from 1930 to 1936 and charge d'affaires to the Vichy Government in France before the United States entered the war. Beginning in 1941, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's personal representative, Murphy planned the Allied landing in French North Africa. Subsequently, he became a senior political advisor to General Dwight D. Eisenhower for the remainder of the war. After the war he served in occupied Germany, and then in 1949 became ambassador to Belgium. In 1952 he was appointed the first U.S. ambassador to post-Occupation Japan. Following one year in that assignment, he became Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs, a position in which he served as advisor to the general in charge of ceasefire talks in Korea, and in 1954 helped defuse tensions between Yugoslavia and Italy. In 1958 Murphy was President Dwight Eisenhower's personal representative during the Lebanon Crisis. In 1959 he briefly served as Under Secretary for Political Affairs, retiring that same year as a career ambassador. In retirement, he was called on to provide advice to Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. His memoir, Diplomat Among Warriors, is considered a classic of the genre. In May 2006 he was honored by a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Murphy, Robert D. Diplomat Among Warriors. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1964.