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.

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.

So in these days in which we remember those who died on 9/11, let’s also remember Johnny “Mike” Spann, who died in the weeks immediately after 9/11 on a battlefield far from home, and who against seemingly impossible odds helped pave the way for the overthrow of the Taliban, and over nine years later, the justice delivered two days ago.

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