At its annual memorial ceremony at CIA Headquarters this morning, the Central Intelligence Agency honored the memory of 79 CIA officers who have died in the line of duty.
Speaking to more than 600 Agency employees as well as the family members of CIA officers who have been killed, Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet said that each of the stars etched on the Memorial Wall in the Headquarters lobby represents a story of decency and devotion, of sacrifice and sorrow.
Among the CIA officers whose memory was honored was Johnny Micheal Mike Spann, whose memorial star, the 79th, was carved in the marble Memorial Wall last week. Spann was killed during a prison uprising by Taliban members in Afghanistan in November 2001.
Tenet described Spann as a quiet warrior who placed his own life in jeopardy to save the lives of others.
He led one of our teams into Afghanistan, then under the sway of a dictatorship aligned with global murder, Tenet said. There, he tracked the authors and allies of terror. There, while fighting for the future of the American people, he fought to bring a better future to the Afghan people. And it was there, one evening, that he said he would gladly risk his life if he could help make the world a safer place for his wife and children.
As we know, those were much more than words.
Tenet said: Our battle with terrorism will be long and difficult. But those who have taken Mike from us cannot prevail. And they will not. Not while a single decent personwho not only loves liberty, but is ready to protect itstands against them.
Among the family members present at the ceremony were Spanns widow, Shannon, his three children, and his parents, Johnny and Gail Spann.
At a ceremony earlier this morning, Tenet presented the Intelligence Star and the Exceptional Service Medallion, which were awarded to Spann posthumously, to the Spann family. The Intelligence Star is 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 Exceptional Service Medallion is for injury or death resulting from service in an area of hazard.