By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, November 17, 2016, US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) spoke on the Senate floor to reflect on the 15th anniversary of the death of Alabamian Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann.
Sen. Shelby said, “I rise today to honor the life and legacy of an Alabama patriot and American hero, Johnny Micheal Spann. Nearly fifteen years ago – on November 25, 2001 – while fighting on behalf of our grateful nation, Mike made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in northern Afghanistan.”
Sen. Shelby continued, “Mike Spann served as a US Marine officer, and then later with the CIA, when his became the first US combat casualty in the War on Terror in Afghanistan. As Americans, we honored the sacrifices made by those who have served and defended our nation on Veterans Day last week. Mike is one of the heroic Americans that ran towards danger, putting his life on the line to fight for our freedom.”
Shelby said, “Mike was dedicated to combating the tyranny, oppression, and terror that would be inflicted on the world by the Taliban and others who share their goals. He gave his life in a noble undertaking, and our nation will be forever indebted to him and his family for his service.
“It is my honor to offer my deep appreciation and gratitude to Mike Spann for his willingness to put himself in harm’s way to protect the values and freedoms that we hold dear. His life exemplified honor and courage, and he will always be remembered for his great sacrifice. As the Director of Central Intelligence said at Mike’s funeral, ‘May God bless Mike Spann – an American of courage – and may God bless those who love and miss him, and all who carry on the noble work that he began.”
Alabama’s senior Senator concluded, “We should not forget Mike Spann and others like him. I yield the floor.”
Mike Spann grew up in Winfield where his father is a real estate broker. He attended Auburn then served in the US Marine Corps. Spann went to work for the CIA as an interrogator.
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which killed 2,977 Americans in New York City, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania the United States declared war on terror and sent the U.S. military to Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban led government, which supported the terrorist group Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama Bin Laden. At the time the Taliban controlled ~80 percent of Afghanistan and were fighting a coalition of tribal forces, called the Northern Alliance. With US support, the Northern Alliance reversed their fortunes and won a major battle taking a large number of Taliban prisoners.
As the US was hunting Bin Laden, Spann was interrogating those prisoners at a prison when they revolted killing Spann.
Captain Spann was the first American killed in the fighting in Afghanistan. Another 2,045 have died in the years since. Over Ten thousand US troops remain in Afganistan fighting the Taliban to this day. 18,201 Americans have been wounded there. Another 4,475 Americans were killed and 32,226 wounded in the war in Iraq, where an estimated 4,460 are supporting the War against ISIS (previously Al Qaeda in Iraq) today. The Wall Street Journal reports that at least 250 U.S. troops are serving as advisors to US backed insurgents in Syria.