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Minnesota native recognized for role in evacuating US embassy in Afghanistan

Dille was among a number of Americans who recently received the U.S. State Department’s Award for Heroism for work done at Kabul's besieged airport.

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Benjamin Dille, right, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who presented Dille with a citation recognizing his courage during the evacuation of American citizens and others from Kabul, Afghanistan.
Special to The Forum
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MOORHEAD — In August of 2021, as Taliban fighters made their way toward Kabul, Afghanistan, officials in charge of the U.S. embassy in Kabul began planning how they would evacuate the consulate.

However, the Taliban moved faster than anyone expected and a decision was made to empty the embassy in a single day, recalled Benjamin Dille, a Moorhead native who at the time was running the administration of the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

In short order, Dille said, embassy staff were transported by helicopter to the airport in Kabul and from there flown out of the country via transport planes.

"We got all 800 of our staff out, plus their families, probably 2,000 people," Dille said, adding that although they were not able to get all of the embassy's contract staff out of the country, U.S. officials are continuing to work on helping people who remain in Afghanistan who are believed to be at risk because of their connection to the U.S. embassy.

Dille was among a number of Americans who recently received the U.S. State Department’s Award for Heroism for work done at Kabul's besieged airport.

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The honor, presented by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reads in part:

"For steadfast courage as core members of the leadership of the Department of State NEO (Noncombatant Evacuation Operation) team, enduring constant threats and danger to support the evacuation of over 124,000 Americans and Afghans from Kabul August 15-30, 2022."

Dille, who's worked for the U.S. Foreign Service for more than 30 years, grew up in Moorhead and graduated from Moorhead High School in 1978.

He is the son of the late Roland Dille, longtime president of what is now Minnesota State University Moorhead, and Beth Dille, who still lives in Moorhead.

Benjamin Dille is currently stationed in Turkmenistan, where he will serve as chargé d'affaires for the month of August, essentially filling the role of acting ambassador.

In September, he will head to the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia, where he will teach Marine Corps officers about diplomacy and statecraft.

Dille said he is grateful to both of his parents for being supportive of his early interest in all things international, and he said the Fargo-Moorhead area's education-rich environment of colleges and universities helped, too.

"I really feel I had a really rich upbringing," he said, adding that he believes the education environment in the Fargo-Moorhead area "opened the world" to him.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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