Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation
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Johnny Micheal Spann Ally Program

Action. Responsibility. Leadership.

Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann used these words to describe himself on his CIA application.

These are also the qualities that the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation sees in our allies. They have shown true dedication to our mission in both word and deed. They uphold their commitment through their actions.

Travis Manion Foundation
Honor The Promise
About Mike Spann

Johnny Micheal “Mike” Spann was an officer in the CIA’s Special Activities Division who became the first American combat death in the Global War on Terrorism.

A native of Alabama, Mike joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Auburn University, eventually rising to the rank of Captain. In 1999, Mike joined the CIA, using the words “responsibility,” “action,” and “leadership,” to describe himself on his application. Mike was one of the members of CIA Team Alpha, the first United States unit to deploy behind Taliban lines after 9/11 on October 26, 2001. On November 25, 2001, Mike was killed fighting al-Qaeda terrorists during a prison uprising near Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.

After Mike’s death, CIA Director George Tenet described Mike as a “quiet warrior” who “placed his own life in jeopardy to save the lives of others.” He received the Intelligence Star and the Exceptional Service Medallion posthumously.

Mike is buried in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery. He is also commemorated with the 79th Star on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Mike is survived by his wife Shannon Spann DeBruyn and his three children: Alison, Emily, and Jake.

The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation has renamed our ally program in honor of Mike Spann, a CIA officer and former Marine who became the first U.S. combat fatality in the Global War on Terrorism on November 25, 2001.

His personal qualities embodied what the Foundation expects from present and future allied organizations:


Each ally’s participation in our work might look different, but a commitment to action must undergird our relationship. Examples of what an ally can do on behalf of the Foundation include sharing our social media posts or hosting a member of our team to speak at their annual national conference or another prominent event. We also welcome allies to hold a Ruck march to benefit the Foundation by raising awareness of our mission or funds for it.


We expect that our allies understand and embrace the importance of honoring all who have served and sacrificed in the Global War on Terrorism. To that end, every one of our allies is fully convinced of the necessity of our goal and their own responsibility to help achieve it.


Each Ally takes their own initiative to use their networks and platforms to help educate our Nation on the Foundation’s mission and work.

Message from Shannon Spann DeBruyn, GWOT Veteran and Gold Star Spouse
More information on how to join the Ally Program will be available soon.

For questions, please email [email protected].

“Honoring our nation’s first KIA in the GWOT, Johnny Micheal Spann, in a special way, has always been at the forefront of my mind. He wasn’t just a CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer, and former Marine. He was a warrior, an American hero of the highest order, and one of our best. His commitment to action, responsibility, and leadership motivated his selfless and sacrificial service on behalf of America. We are immensely proud to honor him by rechristening our ally program in his name. By doing so, we are embracing the principles by which Mike lived, as well as conveying that we expect everyone formally associated with the Foundation to do the same.”

-Michael “Rod” Rodriguez, President and CEO The Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation