Breach of Etiquette

The wife of Ambassador Kubisch led her guests into the foyer while the maid retrieved their coats.

“I’m so glad you and the children could come tonight,” she told Mrs. Welch. “It doesn’t quite seem like Christmas without children.”

Mrs. Welch gave an uneasy smile, pulled her daughter closer to her side. “Thanks for having us.”

Ambassador Kubisch and Dick Welch stood apart, speaking in low tones. Lately, Dick had been a frequent dinner guest at the official residence, though this was the first time he’d brought his family.

Her husband never told her who did what at the embassy. Last week, Dick’s identity as CIA Station Chief had been revealed in the Eleftheros Typos and other Greek papers. She thought it was irresponsible of them to finger him like that.

Dick looked at her and winked. She smiled.

The men finished their conversation and shook hands. “Merry Christmas, Dick,” said the ambassador. “If I don’t see you.”

What Pegman Saw: Athens

Historical note to this story:

While serving in Latin America, CIA Station Chief Dick Welch, a fanatic about personal security, was always careful to hide his identity. Once he arrived in Athens he was confident that he was at last in a politically stable country and could relax a bit despite the fact that his name and Agency connection had been reported in the Greek newspapers.

On the night of December 23, 1975, he and his family attended a Christmas party at the American Ambassador’s residence. Upon returning home, Dick exited the car to open the main gate. A man appeared amid the darkness and called to him. As he turned, the man blew Dick’s head off with a pistol.

Five days after the attack, a terrorist group called “Revolutionary Organization 17 November” claimed responsibility for Dick’s death. It wasn’t until 2003—almost 28 years later—that the people responsible for the murder of Dick Welch and several other foreign diplomats were caught. They were sentenced for the murders of the diplomats, but escaped conviction for Dick’s death because of a 20-year statute of limitations.