Johnny Micheal Spann Wiki
Johnny Micheal Spann, the CIA officer who interrogated “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh at a prison in November of 2001, was the first American to die in combat in Afghanistan.
The family of a CIA officer who was killed in an attack in Afghanistan after interrogating ‘American Taliban’ John Walker Lindh says his release from prison is a slap in the face.
Lindh, 38, was released from the FCI Terre Haute prison in Indiana on Thursday on probation after serving 17 years of his 20 year sentence after pleading guilty to providing support to the Taliban.
He was captured with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in November 2001 and failed to warn U.S. forces of a planned uprising at the Qala-i-Jangi jail in Balkh where he was being held.
This country holds drug offenders for longer sentences than Lindh just served for choosing to fight for America’s enemies.
— Matt Burnell (@mdburnell) May 23, 2019
CIA operative Johnny ‘Mike’ Spann was killed during the uprising and Lindh was injured. Spann was the first American killed in the Afghan war.
Spann, an Alabama father-of-three, had questioned Lindh just a few hours earlier but the convicted terrorist chose not to warn him of the Taliban prisoners’ plans.
The CIA agent’s family have fiercely opposed Lindh’s early released and his daughter Alison – who was nine when her father was killed – said releasing Lindh was a slap in the face for her family.
‘He is getting released early because of his good behavior in prison. For my family, terrorism does not equal good behavior,’ she told ABC News ahead of his release.
Johnny Micheal Spann Grew Up in Alabama Playing Football
Johnny Micheal Spann was born in 1969. He spent his childhood in Winfield, Alabama, a small town about 80 miles northwest of Birmingham. He went by his middle name, Mike.
According to his memorial on the CIA website, Spann loved to play football at Winfield High School. He was a wide receiver and running back.
After graduating from high school, Spann chose to stay in-state for college. He attended Auburn University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1992.
The man being released from prison was captured by the Northern Alliance and held for questioning by the CIA. Lindh was being questioned by CIA Officer Johnny Micheal Spann when the prisoners revolted, killing Spann. Lindh knew about and took part in the uprising. https://t.co/dZexMaPq8u
— Matt Burnell (@mdburnell) May 23, 2019
In 2002, his hometown dedicated a park to their fallen hero. The Johnny Micheal Spann Memorial Park was dedicated in November of 2002, next to the Winfield City Hall. The mayor at the time, Bill West, said, “This is to honor Mike Spann for the sacrifice he made. He represents the best we have to give.”
Spann Joined the Marines While Still a College Student & Served For 8 Years
Johnny Micheal Spann made the decision to serve his country while he was a senior in college. He enlisted with the Marines in December of 1991, a few months before earning his bachelor’s degree.
Spann became an artillery specialist. He served for 8 years with the Marines and was promoted to Captain.
On the Arlington National Cemetery website, it explains that Spann served in Okinawa in 1994 and 1995. His commanding officer there, Major Mike Mullin, described Spann as very focused on the job. “He was very serious – and his main concern was that his Marines were prepared to go to battle. That’s the kind of guy he was. He told you straight and stuck to it.”
Spann Joined the CIA in 1999 & Met His Future Wife During Training
Johnny Micheal Spann joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999 as a paramilitary officer. He finished basic training at the National Clandestine Service one more before his mission to Afghanistan. The director of the CIA at the time, George Tenet, described Spann as “quiet, serious, and absolutely unflappable … [his] stoicism concealed a dry sense of humor and a heart of gold.”
It was during basic training that Spann met the woman who would become his wife. Shannon Spann joined the CIA around the same time and became a counter-terrorism officer, while Spann was part of the Special Activities Division. She explained that they got to know each other during a Fourth of July party and that her husband used to tease afterward that that was the “best Fourth of July he ever had.”
— IntelToday (@Intel_Today) May 10, 2019
They got married in early 2001 and had a son before Spann was deployed to Afghanistan in the fall of that year. Shannon Spann spoke at the funeral and praised her husband’s commitment to service. “He served his country by being good. Not everyone is skilled or has the desire to go to faraway places to fight in wars but all of us have the skills and should have the desire to serve our country by being good.”
Johnny Micheal Spann Left Behind Two Daughters & an Infant Son
Johnny Micheal Spann was the father of three children. He had two daughters, Alison and Emily, with his first wife. They were 9 and 4 when he was killed in Afghanistan. His son, Jacob Micheal, was only 6 months old.
Spann’s oldest child, Alison, is now a reporter in Biloxi, Mississppi. In an interview on CNN in September of 2013, she explained that her father taught her to “always strive to do my best and strive to get everything I could out of life. He taught me determination, and he taught me strength.” Alison added that her father took his daughters to the International House of Pancakes to break the news that he was being deployed to Afghanistan. Alison said she cried at the news and begged him not to go.
Alison explained that she and her family went to Afghanistan and visited the site where her father was killed. She said she met Spann’s former colleagues, who talked about how highly they had regarded Mike Spann.
In a written article for CNN in 2013, Alison shared that the family suffered a second terrible loss shortly after her father was killed in Afghanistan. Alison’s mother Kathryn Ann, Mike Spann’s first wife, passed away after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer. Alison said that her parents met while he was a college student and Kathryn was a high school senior. The young family lived in Okinawa, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia while Spann was in the Marines.
Johnny Micheal Spann is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Johnny Micheal Spann — Central Intelligence Agency https://t.co/v9oeJQ3cbM rememberMB ER I Ng CI A’s S heroes of John NY Mich E Al so Ann CE not Ra like notEl ligence4E NCI E AG E NC y caught on special intelligence agencies special agentFed judgeDr LLGN
— Edmund William Callahan (@EdmundWilliamC2) May 23, 2019
Then-CIA Director George Tenet was in attendance. Part of his speech was shared on the CIA website:
“It was in the quest for right that Mike at his country’s call went to Afghanistan. To that place of danger and terror, he sought to bring justice and freedom. And to our nation — which he held so close to his heart — he sought to bring a still greater measure of strength and security. For Mike understood that it is not enough simply to dream of a better, safer world. He understood that it has to be built — with passion and dedication, in the face of obstacles, in the face of evil.”
Spann’s star on the CIA Memorial Wall was the 79th carved on the wall in honor of fallen agents. He was also posthumously awarded the Intelligence Star and the Exceptional Service Medallion.
Fast Facts You Need to Know
- John Walker Lindh, 38, was released from an Indiana prison on Thursday after serving 17 years of his 20-year sentence
- Lindh was captured with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in 2001 and was interrogated by CIA agent Johnny ‘Mike’ Spann
- He failed to warn Spann of a planned uprising at the Qala-i-Jangi jail where he was being held
- Spann, an Alabama father-of-three, was killed during the uprising
- The CIA agent’s family have fiercely opposed Lindh’s early released and his daughter Alison has described it as a slap in the face for her family
- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Lindh’s release ‘unexplainable and unconscionable’