Raphel graduated from Hamilton College (Bachelor, 1964) and the Maxwell School at Syracuse University (Master of Arts, 1966).
He died along with Pakistani President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, United States. Brigadier General Herbert M. Wassom and others, when the Lockheed C-130 Hercules they were on-board crashed shortly after takeoff from Bahawalpur Airport in Pakistan. He spoke Urdu, French, Persian and English. Raphel joined the United States State Department in 1966.
Raphel held a variety of positions throughout his career until his death in 1988.
He was mainly a diplomat for the United States Government. Iran hostage crisis Office of United States Secretary of State In 1981, Raphel served as the Special Assistant to Secretary of State Edmund Muskie.
Afterward, he became the Deputy Assistant to the United States Secretary of State in 1985. Ambassador to Pakistan Raphel was nominated by President Ronald Reagan and succeeded Dean Roesch Hinton as United States Ambassador to Pakistan in January 1987.
Raphel died in a plane crash in Pakistan on August 17, 1988 in which Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and 29 others also died.
He was 45 years old at the time of his death.
In 1979, Raphel was a key member of the State Department"s Special Operations Group set up to free the American hostages seized by Iranian militants at the United States Embassy in Teheran.
Married Nancy Halliday Ely, May 30, 1987. Children: Stephanie, John, Robert.