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Johnny Micheal Spann

Johnny Micheal Spann

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Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann (March 1, 1969 – November 25, 2001) was a paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

's Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

. Spann was the first American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 killed in combat
Killed in action
Killed in action is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own forces at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to...

 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 in 2001.

Early life


Johnny Micheal Spann was originally from the small town of Winfield, Alabama
Winfield, Alabama
Winfield is a city in Marion county in the U.S. state of Alabama. The population was 4,540 at the 2000 census, the second largest city in Marion County.-History:...

, the son of a real estate agent. Spann had a strong religious upbringing and graduated in 1987 from Winfield City High School, where he played football. At 17, he earned his Private Pilot License
Private Pilot License
A Private Pilot License or, in the United States of America, a Private Pilot Certificate, is a license that permits the holder to act as the pilot of an aircraft privately . The requirements to obtain the license are determined by the International Civil Aviation Authority , but the actual...

 and later became a certified rescue diver and parachutist.

Military service


In December 1991, while attending Auburn University
Auburn University
Auburn University is a public university located in Auburn, Alabama, United States. With more than 25,000 students and 1,200 faculty members, it is one of the largest universities in the state. Auburn was chartered on February 7, 1856, as the East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts...

, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve
United States Marine Corps Reserve
The Marine Forces Reserve is the reserve force of the United States Marine Corps. It is the largest command in the U.S...

. After graduating from Auburn with a bachelor of science
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 in criminal justice/law enforcement in 1992, Spann attended the Marines' Officer Candidate School
Officer Candidate School (U.S. Marine Corps)
The United States Marine Corps Officer Candidates School is the entry-level training for Marine officers, equivalent to recruit training for enlisted Marines. Located at Marine Corps Base Quantico, the school trains, screens, and evaluates potential Marine Corps officers...

 at Quantico, Virginia
Quantico, Virginia
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there are 561 people, 295 households, and 107 families living in the town. The population density is . There are 359 housing units at an average density of .-Racial composition:...

. He had originally wanted to go into aviation, but instead became a field artillery
Field artillery
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement....

 officer and eventually served with the elite 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, specializing in how to direct indirect fire
Indirect fire
Indirect fire means aiming and firing a projectile in a high trajectory without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire...

 and close air support
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

. In 1997, Spann served as second-in-command for a joint exercise expedition in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 called "UNITAS." He served six years with the United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, including tours in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, eventually achieving the rank of Captain. Spann joined the CIA in June 1999 and went on to serve in the Special Operations Group
Special Operations Group
Special Operations Group may refer to:* Special Operations Group of Argentina* Special Operations Group of the Australian Victoria Police* Special Operations Group of the Tasmania Police* Special Operations Group of Brazil...

 of the CIA's Special Activities Division.

Death at Qala-i-Jangi



Spann was killed during a riot
Battle of Qala-i-Jangi
The Battle of Qala-i-Jangi took place between November 25 and December 1, 2001, in Northern Afghanistan. It began with the uprising of foreign Taliban prisoners held at Qala-i-Jangi fortress, and escalated into one of the bloodiest engagements of the War in Afghanistan...

 at the Qala-i-Jangi compound
Qala-i-Jangi
Qala-i-Jangi is a 19th century fortress located near Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. It is known for being the site of a bloody 2001 Taliban uprising named the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi, in which at least 470 people were killed including CIA agent Johnny "Mike" Spann...

 near Mazari Sharif in northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 according to CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

reporter Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton
Robert Young Pelton , is an author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Pelton is considered an adventurer and a "witness" to conflict. Pelton is known for overcoming extraordinary obstacles in his search for the truth...

.
Earlier that day, he and another SAD officer questioned John Walker Lindh
John Walker Lindh
John Phillip Walker Lindh is a United States citizen who was captured as an enemy combatant during the United States' 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. He is now serving a 20-year prison sentence in connection with his participation in Afghanistan's Taliban army...

.

Officials recovered his body after Afghan Northern Alliance troops backed by U.S. air strikes, US Army Special Forces and British Special Forces crushed the uprising.

Some sources state that he fought with his AK-47
AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

 until it ran out of ammunition, then drew his pistol until it, too, emptied, then resorted to hand to hand combat before finally being overcome. However, in a news report released shortly after the events reports it is stated that Spann fought only with his pistol, killing three attackers before being overwhelmed by weight of numbers. It was actually his companion, "Dave", who opened fire with the AK-47. Time Magazine reported shortly after the events:

Memorial



Spann is memorialized with a star on the CIA Memorial Wall
CIA Memorial Wall
The Memorial Wall is a memorial at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It honors CIA employees who died in the line of service.-Memorial:...

 at CIA headquarters in Langley
Langley, Virginia
Langley is an unincorporated community in the census-designated place of McLean in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.The community was essentially absorbed into McLean many years ago, although there is still a Langley High School...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 that commemorates individuals who died in the line of duty. Spann was posthumously awarded the Intelligence Star
Intelligence Star
The Intelligence Star is an award given by the Central Intelligence Agency for a "voluntary act or acts of courage performed under hazardous conditions or for outstanding achievements or services rendered with distinction under conditions of grave risk." The award citation is from the Director...

 and the Exceptional Service Medallion
Exceptional Service Medallion
The Exceptional Service Medallion is a civilian decoration of the United States government. It is awarded by the Central Intelligence Agency in recognition of "an employee's injury or death resulting from service in a hazardous area."- Recipients :John Anthony Celli IIIJohnny Micheal SpannJames A....

.

Because the Intelligence Star
Intelligence Star
The Intelligence Star is an award given by the Central Intelligence Agency for a "voluntary act or acts of courage performed under hazardous conditions or for outstanding achievements or services rendered with distinction under conditions of grave risk." The award citation is from the Director...

 is considered the equivalent of the U.S. military's Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy....

, Spann was approved for burial in Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

. Spann is buried in section 34 at Arlington National Cemetery.

A small memorial to Mike Spann exists at Qala-i-Jangi Fortress outside of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and a forward operating base
Forward Operating Base
A forward operating base is any secured forward military position, commonly a military base, that is used to support tactical operations. A FOB may or may not contain an airfield, hospital, or other facilities. The base may be used for an extended period of time. FOBs are traditionally supported...

 is named in his honor.

Family


Spann was survived by his wife Shannon, also a CIA employee, and three children. His ex-wife Kathryn Ann Webb, mother of two of his children, died of cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

 five weeks after Spann's death.

See also


  • Operation Enduring Freedom
  • Battle of Qala-i-Jangi
    Battle of Qala-i-Jangi
    The Battle of Qala-i-Jangi took place between November 25 and December 1, 2001, in Northern Afghanistan. It began with the uprising of foreign Taliban prisoners held at Qala-i-Jangi fortress, and escalated into one of the bloodiest engagements of the War in Afghanistan...


External links