Posted by: Pam, at RML | November 2, 2012

Former Tehran Embassy hostage to speak at Radnor Memorial Library

On Wednesday, November 7 at 7:30pm at Radnor Library, retired foreign service political officer Michael Metrinko will speak on U.S.-Afghanistan Policy: Prospects of Success. Radnor Historical Society is co-sponsoring this event with the Library.

 Metrinko has more than 40 years of experience in the Islamic World and was a member of the Tehran Embassy staff taken hostage in 1979, spending 14 months as a prisoner. All State Department and CIA employees taken hostage were awarded the State Department Award for Valor. Michael Metrinko received two: one for his time as a hostage and another for his daring rescue of Americans who had been jailed in Tabriz months before the Embassy take-over. After September 11, 2001, Metrinko returned to active service with assignments to Yemen, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Metrinko is a cousin of mine…our Ukrainian roots are deep in neighboring coal-mining towns about an hour and a half north of Philadelphia.

If I see Michael, it is usually at a big Christmas party in Delaware, or a wedding, or a funeral. It is never the right time to ask about his experience as a hostage in Iran. One time, after 9/11, I brought it up at the Christmas party and he said, Pam, you know you are dating yourself if you remember the hostage crisis. Then he smiled and said he was looking forward to going back to Afghanistan. His ambitions were intellectual and personal. I know that Michael was the opposite of  your typical Embassy staffer, as he was warmly immersed in the local culture. I only know this because I read it in Mark Bowden’s book Guests of the Ayatollah where Michael emerged as one of the central figures in the hostage crisis.

This event was planned early in 2012, long before the film Argo was released and it is a coincidence that Michael is speaking at the Library at the same time the film is playing in theatres. People are talking not just about this excellent film, but the hostage crisis again, so many years later.

Michael served as a senior advisor for DynCorp International, the U.S. Embassy and NATO forces. Since retirement, Metrinko served as Ministry Reform Advisor at the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at the United States Army War College until 2009 and is now an independent international affairs professional. He is the author of  The American Military Advisor: Dealing with Senior Officials in the Islamic World.

Michael Metrinko, away from Washington, now lives in Carlisle, PA. He told me he bought a house and planted a hundred trees.

See you at the Library,



  1. Good afternoon:

    Is pre-registration required for this event? Also, will copies of Mr. Metrinko’s book be available for purchase (and possible inscription)?

    Thank you-


    Tom McCourt 215-939-0951


    • Tom, thank you for your interest. I am looking forward to hearing Michael talk myself. I do not have books to sell. I’ll call him and ask him to bring books if he has them. I hope this nor’easter due on Wednesday passes us by. No registration, just come.


  2. Hi Mike. We met some 30 years ago. Was it at Harvard while I was on a fellowship. Anyway, I recall our discussions and the impression you made on me, you the soft-spoken intellectual who when put to the test had been a hero unimaginable evn in films. Good luck to you!


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