Johnny Micheal Spann was from the small town of Winfield, Alabama, the son of a real estate agent and his wife. Spann graduated in 1987 from Winfield City High School, where he played football. At 17, he earned his private pilot license and later became a certified rescue diver and parachutist.
In December 1991, while attending Auburn University, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve. After graduating from Auburn with aBachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement in 1992, Spann attended the Marines’ Officer Candidates School at Quantico, Virginia. He had originally wanted to go into aviation, but became a field artillery officer and eventually served with the elite 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company. He specialized in directingindirect fire and close air support. In 1997, served as second-in-command for a joint exercise expedition in Latin America andAfrica called “UNITAS.”
He served six years with the United States Marine Corps, including tours in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, eventually achieving the rank of Captain. Spann joined the CIA in June 1999 and went on to serve in the Special Operations Group of the CIA’s Special Activities Division.
Death at Qala-i-Jangi
Spann was killed during a riot at the Qala-i-Jangi compound near Mazari Sharif in northern Afghanistan according to CNNreporter Robert Young Pelton. Earlier that day, he and David Tyson, another SAD officer, questioned John Walker Lindh, an American citizen, and other prisoners.
Officials recovered his body after Afghan Northern Alliance troops, backed by U.S. air strikes, US Army Special Forces and British Special Forces, neutralized the uprising.
Some sources say that he fought with his AK-47 until it ran out of ammunition, then drew his pistol until it, too, emptied, then resorted to hand-to-hand combat before finally being overcome. In a news report by Time Magazine published shortly after the events reports, it is stated that Spann fought only with his pistol, killing three attackers before being overwhelmed by the more numerous prisoners. His colleague, “Dave,” an Uzbek-language specialist, opened fire with the AK-47.
Time Magazine reported shortly after the events:
in Arlington National Cemetery.
Spann is memorialized with a star on the CIA Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters in Langley,Virginia that commemorates individuals who died in the line of duty. Spann was posthumously awarded the Intelligence Starand the Exceptional Service Medallion.
Because the Intelligence Star is considered the equivalent of the U.S. military’s Silver Star, Spann was approved for burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Spann is buried in section 34 at Arlington National Cemetery.
A small memorial to Mike Spann exists at Qala-i-Jangi Fortress near Mazar-i-Sharif,Afghanistan. A forward operating base is named in his honor.
The Alabama legislature named a section of Alabama Highway 129 the “Johnny Micheal Spann Highway” in his honor.
Memorial at Qala-i-Jangi Fortress
Spann was survived by his wife Shannon, also a CIA employee, and three children. His ex-wife Kathryn Ann Webb, mother of two of his children, died of cancer five weeks after Spann’s death.
The Walking Veteran had visited The Johnny Micheal Spann Memorial Park, July 27, 2016 in Winfield, Alabama