Courier on GF072 Was From Virginia

Seth J. Foti was just recently married and was making his first mission as a diplomatic courier for the State Department.

But the 31-year-old Browntown, Va., native never made it. He was among the 143 passengers killed Wednesday when Gulf Air flight 072 crashed in shallow waters north of Manama, Bahrain.

Foti was the only American aboard the plane, said Andy Laine, spokesman for the State Department.

Foti was carrying classified information in yellow pouches. After hours of searching today, U.S. Navy divers found the pouches of classified information that Foti was carrying, said Cmdr. Jeff Gradeck, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Foti joined the service 14 months ago and was based in Manama, Bahrain, for a little more than a year, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. Last month, Foti completed diplomatic courier training, Laine said.

Met Future Wife in Manamar

In May 1999, Foti went to the U.S. embassy in Manamar, Bahrain, where he met his wife, Anisha. The two were married for three months.

Foti is one of the 97 U.S. couriers who carry classified papers and equipment. To date, six U.S. diplomatic couriers have died in crashes, the last in 1963.

“His dedication to the mission of the courier service was unmatched, and he was clearly an asset to the Department of State and the U.S. government,” Boucher said. “His friends and colleague in the U.S. government will miss him very dearly.”

“He was a very bright individual, very energetic,” said Laine. “He was dedicated to his job.”

Efforts to reach Foti’s mother and stepfather, who live in Browntown, were unsuccessful today.

Foti’s body will arrive in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Laine said. A private memorial service will be held next week in Browntown, he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Bahrain was planning a private memorial service for Foti on Saturday.