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Johnny “Mike” Spann Tag

Each Memorial Day we try to focus on the lives of a small number of individuals who gave their lives for our country, and whose stories we have followed for several years. In this way we put human faces and life stories honoring all those who paid the ultimate price. Click on each hyperlinked heading for prior posts about the person.

For many years, on November 25 and also Memorial Day, we have remembered Johnny Micheal Spann, a CIA Operations Officer who was the first American killed in Afghanistan after 9/11. We have told Spann's story many times, but it never gets old. Our 15th Anniversary post summed up much of what we had learned, 15th Anniversary: Johnny “Mike” Spann, first American killed in Afghanistan.

Every year we remember Johnny "Mike" Spann, the CIA special operations officer who was the first American killed in Afghanistan after 9/11. Each year we discover new facts and stories, including the letter from Afghan warlord Abdul Rahdis Dostum and the memorial he dedicated in Spann’s memory, interviews with his oldest daughter Alison, and the family’s reaction to the release of Bowie Bergdahl.

Every year on November 25 we remember Johnny Micheal ("Mike") Spann, the first American killed in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. It was on that date in 2001 that Spann was killed during a Taliban prisoner uprising at the Qala-i-Jangi fortress. The "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh was being held and interrogated at the fortress, though it remains unclear what if any direct role he played in Spann's death.

This weekend was the worst of Twitter, and the best of Twitter The worst was the horrible response of "comedian" Dean Obeidallah to a mild comment from Bill Presson on Twitter regarding a Tweet by Obeidallah dedicating Memorial Day to the anti-Trump Resistance. That mild comment from Presson was responded to by Obeidallah with a question about Presson's profile pic: "Are u wearing a Nazi outfit?"

Cornell Law School graduation was held this year at the campus sports arena used for basketball games. It was the first time that I can remember that the sports complex was used for that purpose, and the faculty met in the Class of 1944 room as we awaited the processional. If you want to watch, you can view it here.  And yes, I am in it, but you'll have to find me. After that, I'll show you my vacation pictures. While waiting, I saw this plaque on the wall:

The first time we wrote about Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann was in early May 2011, in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden:
Hearing the news of Osama bin Laden’s death brought forward many emotions and memories. One of those memories for me was the story of Johnny “Mike” Spann, from Winfield, Alabama, the first American killed in ... Afghanistan..., on November 25, 2001. Spann was a CIA operative, one of a small number of Americans who landed in Afghanistan, helped coordinate local forces hostile to the Taliban, and directed bombing and other military action. The story of this small band of men has been told, but not told enough.

Each memorial day we try to focus on the lives of a small number of individuals who gave their lives for our country, and whose stories we have followed for several years. Rachel Porto, the widow of Marine Corporal Jonathan Porto, wrote a moving post for Legal insurrection, I am proud to be the widow of Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto, USMC. The post has received widespread attention on social media. Please retweet: https://twitter.com/LegInsurrection/status/737089384873238528 We also have a post by Jane Horton, about her husband Christopher Horton, who we have not written about before, “My husband, like many fallen service members, would want to see you live”.

The first time we wrote about Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann was in early May 2011, in the aftermath of the killing of Osama bin Laden:
Hearing the news of Osama bin Laden’s death brought forward many emotions and memories. One of those memories for me was the story of Johnny “Mike” Spann, from Winfield, Alabama, the first American killed in the Afghanistan war, on November 25, 2001.[*] Spann was a CIA operative, one of a small number of Americans who landed in Afghanistan, helped coordinate local forces hostile to the Taliban, and directed bombing and other military action. The story of this small band of men has been told, but not told enough. Spann was killed during the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi when Taliban prisoners gained access to weapons and attacked. Spann was killed during that uprising (see video).  One of the prisoners was the so-called American Taliban, John Walker Lyndh, who Spann interrogated shortly before Spann’s death.

On November 25, 2001, the first American was killed in the Afghan war, during a prisoner uprising in northern Afghanistan. He was a CIA special operations officer.  His name was Johnny "Mike" Spann.  His story is not told often enough. We have written of Mike Spann several times before, each one documenting a different aspect of his life and family he left behind: (Family of Mike Spann at cemetery) Here's a brief description of his story:

The other day we noted how the father of Johnny "Mike" Spann reacted with dismay to the Taliban-Bowe Bergdahl swap. Mike Spann, a CIA officer and former Marine, was the first American killed in the Afghanistan war, during an uprising of prisoners in Northern Afghanistan. We have covered the story many times over the years. It is one of heroism, of small groups of special forces and CIA officers who operated in conjunction with Northern Afghanistan ethnic warlords to rout the Taliban long before there was a sizable U.S. ground presence. One of those warlords was Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who wrote a memorial to Spann and erected a monument (featured image). General Dostum is back in the news as he's running for Vice President of Afghanistan [the runoff election is today], and as ethnic warlords once again are seen as the key to fighting the Taliban as the U.S. winds down. Oh, and General Dostum is on Twitter. The uprising that led to Spann's death included not only so-called American Taliban John Walker Lindh (now in prison in the U.S.), but also one of the 5 Taliban leaders exchanged for Bergdahl. We've previously featured Spann's daughter Alison, and all her great accomplishments. Alison was recently interviewed on Fox News (via Instapundit) and echoed her grandfather's dismay at the swap:

The Taliban have released a video of Bowe Bergdahl being released to U.S. Special Forces soldiers who arrived by helicopter. Five high ranking Taliban members were released from Gitmo in exchange. The release of the video is part of the Taliban victory lap: (full propaganda video here) Statements from Bergdahl's fellow soldiers about the circumstances of his departure from his base are very troubling, as are the Obama administration's ridiculous refusal to acknowledge the issues. There are heroes in this video. The Special Forces soldiers who risked their lives landing into what could have been a trap, in order to rescue someone who may turn out to be a deserter who caused the deaths of other Americans searching for him. The image of these Special Forces soldiers reminds me of men like Johnny "Mike" Spann, a CIA officer who was the first American killed in the Afghan war during a prisoner uprising.  We have written of Mike Spann several times before, Remembering Johnny “Mike” Spann:
The story of this small band of men has been told, but not told enough. Spann was killed during the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi when Taliban prisoners gained access to weapons and attacked.

The first American killed in the Afghan war, during a prisoner uprising in northern Afghanistan.  On November 25, 2001. We have written of Mike Spann several times before, Remembering Johnny “Mike” Spann:
The story of this small band of men has been told, but not told enough. Spann was killed during the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi when Taliban prisoners gained access to weapons and attacked. Spann was killed during that uprising (see video).  One of the prisoners was the so-called American Taliban, John Walker Lyndh, who Spann interrogated shortly before Spann’s death. Spann’s wife Shannon also worked for the CIA.  In addition to his wife, Spann left behind two daughters and an infant son Spann’s family established a website to honor his life, and there is a wealth of information and photos at his Arlington National Cemetery page. There is an interesting honor paid to Spann at the website of Afghan General and Warlord Abdul Radhis Dostum, including a link to a photo of the memorial to Spann at the site of the uprising in which he died.
We also had follow up posts: Now meet his oldest child, daughter Alison:
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