Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

10 Medical Aid Workers Executed in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 8, 2010

Slain Workers Undaunted by Risks, Friends Say

Dr. Karen Woo

Dr. Karen Woo, 36, the lone Briton among the dead, gave up her job with a private clinic in London to work in Afghanistan. She was planning to leave in a few weeks to get married, friends said.

“She wanted the world to know there was more than a war going on in Afghanistan, that people were not getting their basic needs met. She wanted the ordinary people of Afghanistan, especially the women and children, to be able to receive healthcare.”

“Her motivation was purely humanitarian. She was a humanist and had no religious or political agenda,” her family said in a statement.

Tom Little

Team leader Tom Little, an optometrist from Delmar, New York, had been working in Afghanistan for more than 30 years. He and his wife, Libby, reared three daughters in Kabul, sticking it out through the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, and the vicious civil war of the 1990s, when Afghan warlords rained rockets on the city.

Little, 62, typically traveled with his wife, Libby, who was likely spared by her decision to stay at their upstate residence in Delmar, N.Y. Friends and supporters of the couple’s efforts were devastated

They were briefly expelled with other Western aid workers in August 2001 but returned after the Taliban were ousted from power three months later. Little supervised a string of hospitals and clinics offering treatment for eye diseases.

Dr. Thomas Grams

Dr. Thomas Grams, 51, quit his dental practice in Durango, Colorado, four years ago to work full-time giving poor children free dental care in Afghanistan and Nepal, said Katy Shaw of Global Dental Relief, a group based in Denver that sends teams of dentists around the globe.

Grams’ twin brother, Tim, said his brother wasn’t trying to spread religious views.

“He knew the laws, he knew the religion. He respected them. He was not trying to convert anybody,” Tim Grams said, holding back tears in a telephone call from Anchorage, Alaska. “His goal was to provide dental care and help people.”

Tim Grams said his brother started traveling with relief organizations to Afghanistan, Nepal, Guatemala and India in the early part of the decade. After he sold his practice, he started going several months at a time.

Grams had joined the nine other members of the International Assistance Mission’s group in Afghanistan on short notice, in part because he loved helping people who never had received dental care
before, she said.

About 10 years ago, Grams had volunteered to fix the teeth of Muslim torture victims. He found the work so fulfilling that he called to apply at Global Dental Relief in 2001.

Glenn Lap

Glen Lapp, 40, a trained nurse from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had come to Afghanistan in 2008 for a limited assignment but decided to stay, serving as an executive assistant at IAM and manager of its provincial eye care program, according to the Mennonite Central Committee, a relief group based in Akron, Pennsylvania.

After five months of Dari language training, Lapp began working with the National Organisation for Ophthalmic Rehabilitation.

“Where I was, the main thing that expats can do is to be a presence in the country,” Lapp wrote in a recent report to the Mennonite group. “… Treating people with respect and with love.”

Cheryl Beckett

Cheryl Beckett, the 32-year-old daughter of a Knoxville, Tennessee, pastor, had spent six years in Afghanistan and specialized in nutritional gardening and mother-child health, her family said. Beckett, who was her high school valedictorian at a Cincinnati-area high school and held a biology degree, had also spent time doing work in Honduras, Mexico, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

“Cheryl … denied herself many freedoms in order to abide by Afghan law and custom,” her family said.

The group’s attackers, her family said, “should feel the utter shame and disgust that humanity feels for them.”

Cheryl was a Pashto speaker who worked in a clinic in Pul-e Charkhi on the outskirts of Kabul. She is survived by her parents and 3 siblings.

Dan Terry

Dan Terry, 64, was another long Afghan veteran. A fluent Dari language speaker like his friend Little, Terry first came to Afghanistan in 1971 and returned to live here in 1980 with his wife, rearing three daughters while working with impoverished ethnic groups.

“He was a large, lumbering man – very simply a joyful man,” said his longtime friend Michael Semple, a former European Union official in Kabul. “He had no pretensions, lots of humility.”

In a Web posting, a friend, Kate Clark, recalled that in 2000, Terry was hauled off to jail by the Taliban for overstaying a visa.

“He went off good-naturedly, seeing it as a rare chance to have the time to learn Pashto,” Clark wrote on a website. “He was released from prison after a couple of weeks and then re-arrested after the authorities decided he had not served enough days. He arrived back to the prison to cheers from his fellow inmates, who were now newly found friends.”

Dan specialised in relating to local communities and liaising with aid organisations and the government to improve services in remote areas. Dan is survived by his wife, 3 daughters, and one granddaughter.

Brian Carderelli

25, Harrisonburg, Va. 
Brian Carderelli was a professional free-lance videographer who worked as a public relations manager for the International School of Kabul . Brian served a number of other organizations in Afghanistan active in development and humanitarian efforts throughout the nation.

He was recruited by the school shortly after he graduated from James Madison University in 2009.

“Brian quickly fell in love with the Afghan people and culture,” the school said in a statement. He had hoped to stay in Afghanistan another year, said school director John Brown.

Daniela Beyer

35, Chemnitz, Germany. Daniela was a linguist and a translator in German, English, and Russian. She also spoke Dari and was learning Pashto. She worked for IAM between 2007-2009 doing linguistic research and joined the eye camp so that she could translate for women patients. She is survived by her parents and 3 siblings.

Mahram Ali

50, Wardak, Afghanistan. Mahram Ali worked as a watchman at NOOR’s maintenance workshop since the end of 2007. He stayed guarding the vehicles in Nawa when the rest of the team walked over the pass into Nuristan. He leaves behind a wife and 3 children, at secondary school age and below


24, Panjshir, Afghanistan. Jawed was employed as cook at the Ministry of Public Health’s Eye Hospital in Kabul and had been released from there in order to attend the Eye Camp. He leaves behind a wife and three children below school age. Besides being the team’s cook, he also assisted with the dispensing of eyeglasses. Jawed had been on several eye camps into Nuristan in the past, and was well loved for his sense of humour.

4 Responses to “10 Medical Aid Workers Executed in Afghanistan”

  1. anonymousonpurpose said


    This makes me sick and confirms my belief that no matter how long we spend in Iraq and Afghanistan…these people will never change. Conflict has been going on for thousands of years and these people will NEVER change despite how many billions of dollars we pour into the region.

    This is heartbreaking on so many levels.

    These Dr.’s deserved so much more.

    I have heard from many people that have gone over there that this place would be better off turned into “glass”.

    I am beginning to agree…

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  4. VA said

    Thank you for letting us know the goodness of these people the world could not afford to lose. My deepest condolences to their loved ones.

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