CIA marks death of spy with rare request

AP , Friday 25 Nov 2011

CIA officers ask people to mark anniversary of first operative to die in Afghanistan, foundation asks for support for children of killed officers

In a rare request, CIA officers are asking people to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the first American killed in the Afghan war by donating to help the children of other intelligence officers killed.

Since the death in 2001 of CIA officer Mike Spann, 23 stars have been added to the wall at the CIA's headquarters that honours CIA operatives lost. Many were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The clandestine world rarely breaks its silence, especially when it comes to family, but the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation notes about 56 children of those killed in the line of duty will need educational support over the next 17 years.

Spann was part of a small group of CIA paramilitary officers who went into Afghanistan just 16 days after the September 11 attacks. Less than two months later, the CIA, along with US Special Forces Green Berets and a massive aerial bombing campaign, helped Afghan militias drive out the ruling Taliban.

Spann was killed when hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners, guarded by just a handful of Afghans, tried to escape from a fortress jail in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.

Spann is survived by his wife, Shannon, a retired CIA officer, and three children.

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