I am sharing this letter (below) with permission because I feel so strongly that the people serving our country, by serving in other countries, are heroes. This hero fell for love of our country and the people of Afghanistan. Americans are not only in the military, but they are volunteers that travel all over the world to face danger in order to that others may live a better life.
So many wonderful people from the U.S. go out and make a difference in the world. These things are not spoken about enough in the media. I want to celebrate this man's life as an example of the generosity in the heart of the U.S. citizen's for the people of the world. He gave his all. Thank you Tom. And to your family, I pray for your comfort and thank you for your sacrifice in the loss of your loved one.
May God send the Holy Spirit to comfort you, give you peace, and grant you joyous memories.
On October 4, a member of our USDA family, Steven Thomas (Tom) Stefani, tragically lost his life in an explosion in Afghanistan. At USDA, our dedicated employees are our most valued resource and the loss of one impacts us all. In Tom's honor and memory, flags at USDA are being flown at half mast until sundown tomorrow evening. [This has happened already.]
Tom was a Forest Service employee on voluntary assignment with the Foreign Agriculture Service. As Acting Secretary
Conner indicated when he informed you of his passing, Tom was developing and implementing projects to help the people of the Ghazni Province. He worked directly with Ghazni's Director of Agriculture to create a reconstruction plan that included a poultry rearing facility and other agricultural advancements. Last month, Tom reported that construction had begun on a cold storage facility for farmers to store their commodities, which would enable them to preserve and sell the products. Tom's contributions will have a real and lasting impact on the people and agricultural economy of Afghanistan and he is, truly, one of our American heroes.
We all extend our deepest gratitude and most heartfelt sympathy to Tom's family.
Boyd K. Rutherford
Assistant Secretary for Administration
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