Since the death in 2001 of CIA officer Mike Spann, a total of 23 stars have been added to the wall at the CIA's Langley, Va., headquarters that honors CIA operatives lost. Many were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The clandestine world rarely breaks its silence, especially when it comes to family, but the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation notes about 56 children of those killed in the line of duty will need educational support over the next 17 years.
Spann was part of a small group of CIA paramilitary officers who went into Afghanistan just 16 days after the al-Qaida attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Less than two months later, the CIA along with U.S. Special Forces Green Berets and a massive aerial bombing campaign helped Afghan militias drive out the ruling Taliban.
Spann was killed when hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners, guarded by just a handful of Afghans, tried to escape from a fortress jail in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.
Spann is survived by his wife, Shannon, a retired CIA officer, and three children.