Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,563

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,563


This is the grave of Cleo Noel.

Born in 1918 in Oklahoma City, Noel grew up in Missouri, ending up at the University of Missouri, where he graduated in 1939 as a history major. He stayed on there and got a master’s degree too. He managed to teach a few history classes at Missouri (these were the days where public schools in minor states would often employ people who lacked the PhD), but then the U.S. joined World War II and Noel joined the Navy. He was a gunnery officer on merchant vessels, mostly in the Pacific. He rose to lieutenant commander by the end of the war, when he was discharged.

Noel decided to go on for a Ph.D. and was accepted into Harvard. But in 1951, his life path changed. He took the Foreign Service Exam. That same year, he married another worker in the Foreign Service. This may be why he took the exam, so they could live together overseas. They were consistently posted together over the years, both in Europe and the Middle East. They had sweet posts in Italy and France, but also were in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Sudan. Noel became one of the State Department’s top Middle Eastern hands. He learned Arabic and became something of an expert on the history and politics of the region.

In 1972, the Nixon administration named Noel Ambassador to Sudan. That’s a big step for a lifelong diplomat, one many never achieve. So he was no doubt rightly proud of this. However, on March 1, 1973, he was at a reception at the Saudi embassy for another American diplomat who was leaving, George Moore. The embassy was stormed by the Black September faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Noel was wounded in the attack. The next day, the terrorists shot and killed him, Moore, and a Belgian diplomat.

Black September was a faction of the PLO founded in 1970 to target Jordanians after that country kicked the organization out into Lebanon. By this time, they had already assassinated Jordanian prime minister Wasfi Tal and then went big time. It was Black September who carried out the 1972 Munich attacks on the Israeli Olympic team. Shortly after the attack in Sudan, Black September disbanded, as the PLO moved to a new phase of its struggle after the 1973 war with Israel, moving toward something like political recognition after it was pretty well proven that terrorism was not going to eliminate Israel. But that wasn’t before it attempted to blow up Golda Meir’s car in New York City.

All of this would have long term implications in the region and of course continues to do so today.

In any case, Noel was 54 years old at his death.

Cleo Noel is buried on the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

If would like this series to visit more victims of terrorism, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Alan Berg is in Forest Park, Illinois and Leon Klinghoffer is in Kenilworth, New Jersey. Previous posts in this series are archived here and here.

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