Nearly 20 years have passed since CIA Officer Johnny Michael “Mike” Spann became the first American to be killed in the “War on Terror” while serving in Afghanistan. For his widow, Shannon Spann, a former CIA intelligence officer, the grim reality of the Taliban reclaiming power of the besieged country sets into motion what she believes will be a life of horror for the Afghan people.
Shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, Alabamian Mike Spann was serving at a northern Afghanistan prison when a violent uprising ensued. Standing valiantly in the face of a brutal mass of prisoners, Spann killed seven terrorists before being slain.
Almost two decades after his death, Afghanistan is now a fallen country under the control of radical Islamists.
His wife, Shannon, recalled to Fox News the time she spent in the country and gave her assessment of the stark reality it faces today.
She told Fox News, “You don’t have to look further than the airport in Kabul to see that local Afghans don’t believe [the Taliban’s] story of ‘we’re going to be peaceful, we’re not going to do reprisals, we’re going to invite participation from women,'” said Spann. “People literally clinging to the landing gear of aircraft to try to get away from the story that they know is about to be written.”
Spann recalled the warm embrace the Afghan children showed toward her and other American service members. She now fears for those children, who are now adults.
“They greeted us with such friendship,” she told Fox News. “They had such resilient joy on their faces.”
“I can’t stop thinking this week about those children,” she added. “Now those children are in their 20s and 30s, like my children are. What will their life look like now?”
In a public statement, Taliban officials told the press that women will be subjected to live “within the framework of Islamic law.” Spann worries about the oppression that is bound to ensue for Afghan women.
The former CIA officer tells Fox News of the gratitude the women of Afghanistan expressed to U.S. military personnel.
She said the women “were just crying and holding my hand, thanking us for U.S involvement in their struggle and telling me stories about how they were prisoners in their own homes before when the Taliban was controlling their county.”
Spann said. “I wonder today, what has become of those women.”
Spann goes on to tell Fox News of her disappointment in what she sees as President Joe Biden’s lack of leadership regarding Afghanistan’s collapse.
“I’m deeply disappointed in President Biden’s defiant stance in his address to the nation,” Spann said. “In times of conflict, excellent leaders keep people bigger than the problem.”
“We utterly failed at keeping people bigger than the problem,” Spann added. “We prioritized a narrow subset of a problem over all of those people,” she said in reference to every American and Afghan who partnered in the 20-year-long conflict.
According to Fox News, Spann described the Biden administration’s failure to “evacuate the most vulnerable of our friends and partners” as “unconscionable.”
The sentiments expressed by Shannon Spann reflect those of the many loved ones who have lost family members in the longest war in United States history.
In 2019, the Alabama Legislature passed a resolution honoring Spann’s husband’s sacrifice. A portion of AL Highway 129 is named “Johnny Michael Spann Highway” in memory of the Winfield native’s heroism.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL