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Memorial Honors Fallen American Hero - 2001-12-10


The American CIA officer who was killed in northern Afghanistan last month was buried Monday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington. Johnny Micheal Spann died two weeks ago during a prison revolt by captured members of the Taleban, becoming the first American to be killed in combat in Afghanistan.

A military band plays as family, friends and members of the CIA gather under a cold, gray sky to bury the nation's first combat-related casualty from the war in Afghanistan.

Thirty-two-year-old Johnny Micheal Spann was working alongside the U.S. military as a covert operative in Mazar-e-Sharif when he was killed in a shootout shortly after questioning a 20-year-old American who was captured while fighting for the Taleban.

The CIA decided there would be no point in keeping his identity secret, and with his flag-draped coffin resting nearby, he was remembered as a husband, father and former Marine, praised by CIA Director George Tenant as an American of courage who gave his life in the face of evil. "Those who took him from us," he said, "will be neither deeply mourned nor long remembered but Mike Spann will be forever part of the treasured legacy of free peoples everywhere as we each owe him an immense, unpayable debt of honor and gratitude."

Left behind are Mike's infant son, two young daughters and widow, Shannon, who fought back emotion to call her husband a hero, someone prepared to give his life, even though her heart is now broken. She said, "It broke when it fell to the ground two Sunday's ago in a place really far from here."

In an unusual move, the CIA allowed employees accustomed to keeping their identities secret to attend this public event and many did as the body of the agency's 79th employee to die in the line of duty was buried in the shadow of the Pentagon.

There was another ceremony held Monday, this one at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for the three American Special Forces soldiers who were killed last week when an American satellite-guided bomb went astray north of Kandahar.

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