The days of “cocktail ambassadors” are over, Pascal Le Deunff, France’s consul general in Atlanta, told well-wishers at a small ceremony held at his residence in Buckhead May 21 during which he was inducted into his country’s National Order of Merit. French President Charles DeGaulle founded the National Order of Merit in 1963 for distinguished civil and military achievements.
The newly knighted Mr. Le Deunff said he had received the honor on behalf of his mentors in France’s foreign service, the staffs with which he has worked since entering the service and his wife, Diana.
Mr. Le Deunff added that France’s foreign officers now served “on the ground” and often find themselves in dangerous situations while abroad.
He cited as important mentors: Catherine Colonna, currently France’s ambassador to the United Nations for education, science and culture; Jacques Rummelhart, a retired member of the foreign ministry who had been consul general when he was in Stuttgart, Germany and Edouard Braine, currently consul general in London and formerly ambassador to Malaysia when he was posted there.
In addition, he cited Xavier Driencourt, who currently is serving as France’s ambassador to Algeria and was ambassador in Malaysia when Mr. Le Deunff was there, and Laurent Aublin, a former ambassador to Thailand who is deceased.
As an example of the sort of dedication he has seen from the various staffs with which he has worked, he spoke of the professional response he witnessed to a military coup in Bangkok, Thailand, in September 2006.
Mr. Le Deunff began his diplomatic career as an attaché to the French consulate in San Francisco in 1987. During the earthquake of 1989, he helped notify French families about the circumstances of their relatives in the U.S. In 1994, he followed the hostage crisis involving an Air France plane in Algeria. He worked on European Union enlargement issues in 2003-4 and while in Bangkok was responsible for evacuating French citizens in 2008.
He thanked his wife for sharing all the challenges and difficult moments of his career.
Michele Oliveres, past president of the French American Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta chapter, and honorary president of Atlanta Accueil, a volunteer organization that helps newly arrived French citizens, presented Mr. Le Deunff with the medal.
On May 27, Mr. Le Deunff is to bestow on three World War II veterans from Georgia, who participated in the Normandy landing, Legion of Honor medals. The National Order of the Legion of Honor is the highest honor in France.
The veterans are Charles F. Smith of Snellville, Charles V. Sprowl of Dalton and Walter J. Victor of Dawsonville.
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