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.

A small group of special operations officers, often riding on horseback, helped organize the Northern Alliance forces and overthrow the Taliban.

My first post about Spann wasn’t on November 25 or Memorial Day, it was on May 3, 2011 [Note – some of the links in this 2011 post have gone bad]:

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] 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.

In over a dozen posts since 2011, we have continued to document various aspects of Spann’s life and death, including his family:

The big news this year was the release of John Walker Lindh in May, which was the subject of several posts.

I’ve not been able to find out where Lindh went after his release, and he has stayed out of the news The most recent information is that he was released in Virginia.

So there’s not a lot new to report, but it’s important to remember what we already know.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.