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46 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / M A Y 2 0 0 7

n May 4, during this year’s Foreign Affairs Day observances, the Ameri-can Foreign Service Association will inscribe the names of several U.S. Foreign Service employees, all killed overseas in the line of duty, on the marble memorial plaques it maintains in the State Department’s C Street lobby.

One of those individuals, Henry W. Antheil Jr., had his career cut tragically short on June 14, 1940. His plane, the “Kaleva,” exploded at 2:05 p.m. local time, shortly after tak-ing off from Tallinn’s Ülemiste Airport en route to Helsinki. Antheil (pronounced ANN-tile) was carrying three diplo-matic pouches from the U.S. legations in Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki on the very day that the Soviet blockade of Estonia went into effect. Soviet troops had already been based in the country since Oct. 18, 1939, as a result of a secret proto-col to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had signed earlier that year.

An Associated Press wire story about the tragedy appeared the following day and was picked up by the New York Times (under the lead, “Finnish Air Crash Kills U.S. Diplomat”). The June 24, 1940, edition of Time magazine ran the following item: “Died: Henry W. Antheil Jr., 27, attaché of the U.S. Legation at Helsinki, younger brother of

noted composer George Antheil; when the Finnish airliner in which he was flying from Tallinn, Estonia, to Helsinki mysteriously exploded in mid-air and plunged into the Gulf of Finland.” And on July 17, 1940, a very short and incom-plete “exclusive” appeared in the Los Angeles Times under the headline: “Finnish Airliner Mystery Solved: Russians Shot Down American Courier.”

Overall, however, the news of the Soviet blockade of Estonia and the downing of Antheil’s plane were both over-shadowed by a much bigger story that broke on the other side of Europe on the same date: the Nazi occupation of Paris.

A Quest for Adventure

Henry Antheil Jr. was born in 1912 in Trenton, N.J., one of four children to Henry William Antheil, owner of a shoe store, and his wife Wilhemine Huse, both Lutheran immi-grants from Germany. Growing up in New Jersey, Henry was captivated by the life of his older brother George (1900-1959), an avant-garde composer who lived abroad in Paris and Berlin before ending his career in Hollywood, where he scored such classic films as “In a Lonely Place” (1950), star-ring Humphrey Bogart and directed by Nicolas Ray. As the title of his 1945 autobiography suggests, George Antheil was widely known as the “Bad Boy of Music” for his notorious “Ballet Mécanique” (1926) and other controversial composi-tions.

Not very much is known about Henry’s early life in the shadow of his famous brother. We do know that Henry enrolled at Rutgers University in the fall of 1931, after grad-uating from Trenton Central High School, where he studied German and served as vice president of the public speaking club.

T HE L AST F LIGHT

FROM T ALLINN

A F OREIGN S ERVICE CODE CLERK FINALLY RECEIVES RECOGNITION FOR HIS SACRIFICE

IN THE LINE OF DUTY TWO - THIRDS OF A CENTURY AGO .

O

B Y E RIC A. J OHNSON AND A NNA H ERMANN

Eric A. Johnson, a Foreign Service specialist since 1999, has served in Moscow and Washington, D.C. He is currently public affairs officer in Tallinn, where he works in the same building that housed the U.S. legation to Estonia until it was forced to close in 1940. Anna Hermann, a student at Brown University, worked as an intern in the embassy’s public affairs section in the fall of 2005.

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