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It was ten years ago that the United States recorded the first fatality of the Afghan war it was not a military member but rather a CIA officer.
John Mike Spann he and a fellow officer were interrogating Taliban prisoners when the compound was ambushed and overtaken by terrorists.
Initially it was thought that span might have escaped but after several days when the compound was finally -- and -- the body was found.
He was returned to his widow and three young children here in the US buried as a hero in Arlington national cemetery.
Mike -- life and death inspired the creation of the CIA officers memorial foundation.
Joining us now John McLaughlin the former acting director.
Of the CIA it's interesting to me that this kind of an organization hadn't existed before then.
You took a look at at the needs of your agency in and found that there wasn't a way to support the widows and and the children of those CIA officers who died in the line of duty.
That's right John -- -- death really rang a bell for us at CIA.
I was still on active duty at the time but some retired officers led by -- legendary former director Richard Helms.
Organize the CIA officers memorial foundation thinking that.
This was probably the beginning of a number of casualties that we would sustain in a war.
That at least in those early years was clearly an intelligence war.
And that is a proven to be very wise decision.
At the time Mike spends death you know it CIA we car book star on the wall -- time and officers lost an action.
On the wall in our lobby.
And at the time in my expensed there were 78 stars he was 79.
There are now a 102 so about.
A quarter of the stars on that wall have been added since nine elevenths.
And that has of course left many -- young children without the CIA parent.
And our thinking at the time and which we continue now.
These children deserve support -- primarily what we do is raise funds for.
College support educational support for the children and sometimes for the spouses of fallen officers.
-- require training for a job or something like that 47 children as I understand it are now receiving or in need.
That kind of support.
Yes since 9/11 we've supported 47 children and three spouses.
Young people we're going to school to study everything from engineering to English literature to international relations political science sociology just about everything.
Including one of my expense daughters who is currently in college.
I read you know on and this is such a heart -- testaments to the character of the American people but after his death people -- actually writing checks out to the CIA and sending them in.
For this kind of thing but the CIA is not allowed as an organization as a government agency.
To take that kind of money hence the establishment of -- foundation.
That's exactly right people didn't know what to do at that point and this was largely the result of one of our former general counsel's.
Jeff Smith who.
With the private.
With a group of retired officers to create what's called a 501 C three foundation.
So any funds donated to this -- of course tax deductible.
As a chart report Tennessee.
I imagine just the nature of the agency kind of works against you in this kind of thing I mean.
It's it's easy to think about casualties from the army the navy the Marine Corps etc.
But the CIA being such as secretive organization and a very small organization.
It must be tougher to sort of get the message out there that that you do have this kind of -- I think it's tough to get it out to in the sense that most Americans know the US military very well and US military.
A personnel when they die in combat there -- survivors to receive some educational benefits this is not true for of the CIA officers.
And I've always thought of our officers particularly since 9/11 many of our officers I would describe as soldiers without uniforms now.
And so this is this is our ways of reaching out to their families we -- -- that between now and the next seventeen years.
We'll have just by our count at least this is where we stand at the moment.
At least 56 children that -- wanted to work with educational assistance.
CIA memorial foundation dot org is our web site.
Yeah and we we have that on our screen and we're all -- putting this story on our website John McLaughlin former actor acting director of CIA thank you.
Thank you John.
What a great assistance that provides.
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