•   
  •   

US News He was a baby when his dad died in Afghanistan. He’s 18 now, and the war still isn’t over.

18:10  26 november  2019
18:10  26 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

The Queen Gave Cover to Soviet Spy Anthony Blunt at Buckingham Palace. ‘The Crown’ Will Tell Their Story.

  The Queen Gave Cover to Soviet Spy Anthony Blunt at Buckingham Palace. ‘The Crown’ Will Tell Their Story. You would think that the last place to look for a Soviet spy would be Buckingham Palace. But that’s exactly where he was. He had been there since 1945, appointed by Queen Elizabeth’s father, George VI, who was unaware of his double life. But that’s exactly where he was.

He ’ s 18 now , and the war still isn ’ t over . Jake Spann and his sisters were the first American kids to lose a parent in Afghanistan . When Jake was in third or fourth grade, he wanted to know: What exactly was his father doing in Afghanistan ? His mom, he said, got more specific.

But now he was having to face up to the fact that perhaps in certain ways he was a bully. Will had fallen over the ball at one point, and Damian was just about to make a joke about it when he is angry his friends have accused him of being a bully. believes he will never be friends with Chris and Will

a man sitting on a bench in a park: Jake Spann, 18, visits the grave of his father, CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann, at Arlington National Cemetery in July. Spann was the first American killed in action in Afghanistan 18 years ago. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) © Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post Jake Spann, 18, visits the grave of his father, CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann, at Arlington National Cemetery in July. Spann was the first American killed in action in Afghanistan 18 years ago. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

First came the horse-drawn wagon rolling through Arlington National Cemetery, carrying the remains of the first American killed in Afghanistan in a flag-draped casket. Members of a Marine honor guard trailed behind, clad in navy blue uniforms, white caps and white gloves, marching ramrod-straight to muffled drums and the clip-clop of horse hoofs.

Fanged mouse-deer identified after vanishing for a generation

  Fanged mouse-deer identified after vanishing for a generation A small group of silver-backed chevrotains, tiny deer-like creatures, has been photographed in a Vietnamese forest after an intense search.Lost to the outside world for a generation—and feared extinct—a small deer-like species with tiny fangs has been photographed tiptoeing through a dry lowland forest in southern Vietnam. The last known scientific recording of the animal, known as the silver-backed chevrotain (Tragulus versicolor), dates to 1990, when a hunter killed one and donated the specimen to scientists.

He said that when he travelled to Australia last month, he had awful jet lag and was unable to work for two days after his arrival back in Europe. ‘People still say I have a unique vision and the photos I take are somehow special. They are probably just flattering, but why not give myself a second chance?

Has. 2. He ' s never ____ a hat in his life. Do your parents meet. 18 . My husband _____ liked going clothes shopping.

Then the family of CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann appeared, dressed in black. His 32-year-old widow, Shannon Spann, who also worked at the agency, walked behind the caisson, cradling a white-blanketed bundle in her arms. This was their infant son, Jake, just 6 months old on Dec. 10, 2001.

Jake had no way of knowing he was at the nation’s most distinguished military cemetery. Or that his father, a 32-year-old CIA paramilitary officer, was among the first U.S. warriors sent to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks to confront the terrorists responsible. Or that, by losing his father, Jake would become a symbol of the longest war in U.S. history, one still claiming American lives 18 years later.

Jake is 18 now, too, a high school senior in Michigan. In the years since he and his two older half sisters became the first kids to lose a parent in Afghanistan, hundreds of others have joined them as children of the fallen.

The Queen's NEW annus horribilis: Andrew's disgrace, Philip's crash and Harry and Meghan's jetsetting... A.N. WILSON explains that for first time in generations, Her Majesty lacks a wise adviser - and the price may be ruinous

  The Queen's NEW annus horribilis: Andrew's disgrace, Philip's crash and Harry and Meghan's jetsetting... A.N. WILSON explains that for first time in generations, Her Majesty lacks a wise adviser - and the price may be ruinous A. N. WILSON: Some of the Royal Family's calamities can be put down to bad luck; others to poor judgment. But at least one is of such seriousness that it could threaten the monarchy itself. I mean, of course, the Duke of York’s association with the sex criminal and paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in a New York jail in the summer.Related: 'Careless, callous Prince Andrew' (Atlantic)The damage done to ‘the Firm’ by the Duke’s disastrous interview on the BBC with Emily Maitlis cannot be underestimated.

He and our sons prefer to stay at home and help raise money for the school over here. Since then the school has got bigger and bigger and now we have 500 pupils. He and I first met in the late summer of 1917 when he was out of Yale, and, like the rest of us, was swept up into the hysteria of the war .

He said that when he travelled to Australia last month, he had awful jet lag and was unable to work for two days after his arrival back in Europe. ‘People still say I have a unique vision and the photos I take are somehow special. They are probably just flattering, but why not give myself a second chance?

Jake knows his loss is different from theirs — and different from that of his sisters, Alison, 27, a television anchor in Mississippi, and Emily, 22, a senior at Auburn University.

“It’s tricky and confusing to think about these experiences at the funeral or with my dad, which I really can’t describe as ‘experiences’ because I haven’t retained those memories,” Jake said. “A lot of sadness comes from just growing up wondering what it all would have been like. You feel kind of robbed of that emotional catharsis that comes with mourning.”

It is phantom grief. His mom married again — another CIA officer, Thys DeBruyn, who has since left the agency. Jake has always called DeBruyn “Dad.” But he has never stopped wondering about his biological father.

Sometimes, he thinks about researching Mike’s last assignment, which has been chronicled in a documentary, books and news articles. Other times, he said, he hesitates to search online or ask his mom questions. He’s not sure he’s ready.

Another annus horribilis? The Queen's difficult year

  Another annus horribilis? The Queen's difficult year It's been a bad year for the monarchy. The Queen may even look back on 2019 as another "annus horribilis", with the fallout from Prince Andrew's association to Jeffrey Epstein continuing to gather pace.The Queen first used the Latin phrase - which means "terrible year" - in reference to the travesties the Royal Family endured in 1992.

He half started as he became aware that someone near at hand was gazing at him . (Aldington) 19. She is supposed to have all the misfortunes and all the virtues to which humanity is subject. (Trollope) 21. It was a market-day, and the country people were all assembled with their baskets of poultry

Thus he stood by the bank of thfs still lake marvelling at the subtleties of reflected radiance, feeling the artist' s joy in perfect natural beauty. I went into the war when I was seventeen, ran away from school to do it, enlisting as a Tommy and telling them I was nineteen. (Priestley) 21.

a group of people wearing military uniforms: Shannon Spann, wife of slain CIA officer Johnny Micheal Spann, holds their 6-month old son Jake during her husband’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in December 2001. He was killed in a prison uprising in Afghanistan. © Doug Mills/AP Shannon Spann, wife of slain CIA officer Johnny Micheal Spann, holds their 6-month old son Jake during her husband’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in December 2001. He was killed in a prison uprising in Afghanistan.

An obligation

Shannon and Mike Spann were having a rare argument in the living room of their Manassas Park, Va., townhouse. Weeks earlier, planes had torn into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and crashed into the ground in western Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people. Now Mike was volunteering for a dangerous deployment to avenge those deaths and prevent future attacks.

Shannon, an officer in the CIA’s counterterrorism center who was on maternity leave, pushed him hard. How, she asked, could he leave his family? Jake was just 3 months old, and Mike had barely seen him since his birth on June 8, 2001, because he’d spent much of the summer in the Balkans on an agency mission. They also had two daughters from his first marriage, Alison, then 9, and Emily, nearly 4. Their mother — Mike’s first wife — was dying of cancer.

Michael J. Pollard, scene-stealing actor in ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ dies at 80

  Michael J. Pollard, scene-stealing actor in ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ dies at 80 He earned an Oscar nomination for the landmark film, playing a getaway driver even though he never learned how to drive.The cause was cardiac arrest, said a friend, Dawn Walker.

Was this really the best time?

“I wanted him to go. That was who he was. He needed to be part of the solution. But I also told him we needed to think about what might happen to our family if he wasn’t here,” said Shannon, now 50 and a security consultant. “It was upsetting for him to think about. Honestly, I just didn’t think he wanted to imagine the reality of me being a single mom with three kids. We never really resolved it.”

Johnny Micheal Spann et al. standing in a room: The day Spann left for Afghanistan, he posed for a picture at home with his children Emily, Jake and Alison.  (Family photo) © Family photo The day Spann left for Afghanistan, he posed for a picture at home with his children Emily, Jake and Alison. (Family photo)

Mike, a former Marine who joined the CIA in 1999, felt an obligation. He’d been warning his colleagues about al-Qaeda since the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors.

“After the Cole bombing, Mike said we needed to be more aggressive ­— that this was coming our way,” said a close friend, a current CIA paramilitary officer in charge of the agency’s covert operations, who traveled with Mike on his final mission.

Mike loved his children and was thrilled to have a son. When he wasn’t traveling, Shannon said, he pushed Jake around their Northern Virginia neighborhood in a stroller, which he dubbed the JTV, the Jake Terrain Vehicle. He got the baby dressed in the morning, bathed him at night and tried to dissuade his daughters from giving their new brother silly nicknames — Moochie or Boo Boo Bear.

China detention camps: Leaked documents reveal one million Muslims imprisoned in government 're-education camps'

  China detention camps: Leaked documents reveal one million Muslims imprisoned in government 're-education camps' They reveal Beijing is pioneering new forms of social control using data and artificial intelligence , using mass surveillance technology. In one week computers issued the names of tens of thousands of people for interrogation or detention. © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd Experts said they provided “the most significant description yet of how the mass detention camps work” in the Chinese government’s own words.

“Uh, why don’t we just call him Jake?” Mike said.

“He was so excited to have a child with Shannon; it was something so important to him,” his CIA colleague said in an interview. “But how do you have that connection to your children and still work for the CIA, especially as a paramilitary officer?”

On Oct. 4, his last day at home before leaving for Afghanistan, Mike posed for a photo with the children. Emily stood to his right and Alison was on his left, flashing big smiles. Their dad stared straight into the camera, hugging Jake.

Related: The endless battle for power in Afghanistan (DW)

a group of people standing around a fire: Repeated attacks in Afghanistan in 2018 and 2019 have killed and wounded hundreds of innocent Afghans, and shown the world the fragile and worsening state of security in the conflict-stricken country. The incidents have plunged war-weary Afghan citizens into a state of despair and highlighted the limitations faced by the government in Kabul in ensuring public security.

A prison uprising

All Shannon knew was that Mike was roaming northern Afghanistan, chasing members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, looking for signs of another potential attack and the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

On Thanksgiving, Shannon remembers him calling from a satellite phone. She and Jake were visiting her parents in California. She didn’t feel comfortable asking for details about his operations over an open phone line, so he asked most of the questions.

Was Jake doing anything new? Yes, Shannon said. He’s smiling a lot. He has discovered his feet.

When are you coming home? she asked. Mid-December, he said, right in time for Christmas.

On Nov. 25, her sister-in-law called. She’d heard on the news that something had happened to an American in Afghanistan. Shannon scrambled to reach her boss at the CIA. He said that they were trying to pinpoint Mike’s location, but that some people from the office would fly out to meet her at once.

“I knew then there was a problem,” Shannon said.

U.S. Resumes Large-Scale Operations Against ISIS in Northern Syria

  U.S. Resumes Large-Scale Operations Against ISIS in Northern Syria United States troops have resumed large-scale counterterrorism missions against the Islamic State in northern Syria, military officials say, nearly two months after President Trump’s abrupt order to withdraw American troops opened the way for a bloody Turkish cross-border offensive. The new operations show that despite Mr. Trump’s earlier demand for a complete withdrawal of all American forces from Syria, the president still has some 500 troops in the country, many of them in combat, for the foreseeable future.“Over the next days and weeks, the pace will pick back up against remnants of ISIS,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.

Hundreds of Taliban members, who had been taken prisoner at a fort in northern Afghanistan called Qala-i-Jangi, were staging a massive uprising against their Northern Alliance captors. Mike and at least one other CIA operative, along with several journalists, were inside the prison, interviewing Taliban prisoners.

By Sunday night, amid a stream of news reports about the chaos at Qala-i-Jangi, CIA officers confirmed that Mike had disappeared at the prison.

Soon it became official: Mike had been killed.

Two weeks later, Shannon cradled Jake in her arms as she walked behind her husband’s casket.

“She was a pillar of strength,” said Mike’s CIA covert operations colleague, who flew in from the war zone to attend the ceremony at Arlington. “She didn’t have anyone minding Jake. ”

At one point, she passed Jake to her father-in-law, but only so she could stand up before the assembled mourners and deliver a eulogy. “Semper Fi, my love,” she said from the lectern, blowing a kiss in the direction of her husband’s casket.

'The same voice’

Jake was 4 or 5 when he remembers first seeing the sepia-toned photo of his father hanging in the main hallway of their home — the one that now dominates Mike Spann’s Wikipedia page. He asked his mom: What happened to Dad?

He was in another country fighting bad guys and died, she said.

Alison Spann et al. posing for a photo: Emily, left, Alison and Jake, with their grandfather Johnny Spann, at the CIA Memorial Wall in 2018. (Family photo) © Family photo Emily, left, Alison and Jake, with their grandfather Johnny Spann, at the CIA Memorial Wall in 2018. (Family photo)

When Jake was in third or fourth grade, he wanted to know: What exactly was his father doing in Afghanistan? His mom, he said, got more specific. “He was at a fort interrogating prisoners and sending back information,” she told him.

Trump Makes Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan and Says He Reopened Talks With Taliban

  Trump Makes Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan and Says He Reopened Talks With Taliban BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Trump paid an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to American troops here on Thursday, and said that he had restarted peace negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after he scuttled talks with the group. “The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,” Mr. Trump said here during a meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani. “We’re going to stay until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make to make a deal very badly,” said Mr. Trump, who reaffirmed his desire to reduce America’s troop presence here to 8,600, down from about 12,000 to 13,000.Mr.

Jake had inherited his father’s dark wavy hair and narrow brown eyes.

“My mom and grandfather all say we have the same voice,” Jake said.

In high school in Traverse City, Mich., where Jake rows varsity crew and runs track, few people knew about his father’s death. Most of his classmates were born after the Sept. 11 attacks. They haven’t paid much attention to a faraway war waged by three presidents that has taken the lives of more than 2,400 Americans.

But one day, during his sophomore year, a student he didn’t know approached him. He said he was reading “Horse Soldiers,” a book that details Mike’s role interrogating Taliban prisoners and his death. A Hollywood action movie based on the book had just come out, so the work was attracting new attention.

“He said he appreciated my dad’s service,” Jake said. “It was cool and totally random.”

Jake has been applying to colleges and thinking about his future. He might want to become a screenwriter or an investigative journalist. Or, he said, he might want to join the CIA.

Missing every milestone

When Jake came to Washington over the summer for journalism and national security programs at area colleges, he got a special invitation. The CIA’s paramilitary team wanted to see him.

At Langley, he entered the lobby and saw his father’s name in black calligraphy in the Book of Honor, which lists some of the names of CIA officers killed in the line of duty. On the white marble Memorial Wall, he saw his father’s black star — the 79th out of 133 honoring each of the agency’s fallen.

Then, the paramilitary guys took him upstairs to their offices, where they gave him a hatchet passed down from Afghan special operations forces, a photo of a memorial at the prison where his dad died, and a carefully folded American flag in a shadow-box frame. A gold plaque underneath reads: “Jake — We flew this flag in honor of your dad at Qala-i-Jangi on 25 November 2017. We will never forget his sacrifice — Team Afghanistan.”

a statue of a person in a red flower: A memorial built in Spann's honor at Qala-i-Jangi in Afghanistan. (Family photo) © Family photo A memorial built in Spann's honor at Qala-i-Jangi in Afghanistan. (Family photo)

“That was pretty badass,” Jake said. “I was thinking the whole time this will look so cool hanging up in my bedroom.”

His father, they said, was quiet and contemplative, a “stoic guy.” But unlike the rest of them, he could ride a horse well.

Then, they walked through the agency’s museum. A case displays his father’s black-and-brown assault rifle that he’d fired in his final moments against Taliban prisoners and a Bible used at his memorial service in Afghanistan, along with an excerpt from his father’s CIA application: “I am an action person that feels personal responsibility for making any changes in this world that are in my power because if I don’t no one else will.”

The museum inside CIA headquarters in Northern Virginia features the Bible that was used during a memorial service for Mike Spann in Afghanistan. (Courtesy of CIA) © CIA/CIA The museum inside CIA headquarters in Northern Virginia features the Bible that was used during a memorial service for Mike Spann in Afghanistan. (Courtesy of CIA)

That night, one of his father’s comrades took Jake out to dinner at the Old Ebbitt Grill, a historic restaurant near the White House. As they ate, the CIA officer told Jake a bit more about the prison riot that killed his father. The officer, Jake said, told him that it “came down to a melee” and that his father, after firing his weapon until it was empty, was eventually overwhelmed.

Jake knows there’s a documentary, “The House of War,” that shows his father’s final hours, interrogating Taliban prisoners, including John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban.”

“It would be interesting to see the video of my father,” Jake said. “I’ve never heard his voice.”

His father has missed every milestone: The moment Jake took his first real steps — on Father’s Day. The day Jake earned a black belt in taekwondo, and the day he became certified in sailing. The night he went to prom.

He won’t be there when Jake learns whether he got into his first choice for college — New York University. He won’t be there when Jake graduates from high school.

a man sitting on top of a grass covered field: Jake visits Arlington, where his father is buried. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) © Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post Jake visits Arlington, where his father is buried. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Arlington’s shadows

Jake had been back to his father’s grave before, but never without relatives.

Now, on a July day, Jake took a shuttle bus to the southern part of the cemetery, all the way to Section 34. He headed north up a grassy slope dotted with the white headstones of military members who served in both world wars.

All the headstones were without adornment, except his father’s, No. 2359. A dozen gray and beige pebbles sat on top. A blue-and-white 9/11 Memorial & Museum 5K run/walk medallion hung off the side. Four U.S. flags were stuck in the grass next to a wilted bouquet of flowers.

What was a king-of-spades playing card doing there?

Items left at the Spann grave. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) © Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post Items left at the Spann grave. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Jake took a photo of the card and the stones and texted it to his grandfather, but he didn’t know who had placed the items there. Then he texted the CIA officer he had dined with the previous night. The officer said he thought the king of spades was placed there because of his long sword.

Jake paced around his father’s headstone.

The sun and heat smothered the burial grounds, but large trees nearby helped cast shadows right over his father’s resting spot. Jake sat down. He crossed his legs on the soft grass and stared at the face of the headstone. He was just inches from the flags, the pebbles, the medallion, the king of spades, the weathered flowers, and the engraved capitalized letters of his father’s name.


Trump Makes Unannounced Trip to Afghanistan and Says He Reopened Talks With Taliban .
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — President Trump paid an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to American troops here on Thursday, and said that he had restarted peace negotiations with the Taliban less than three months after he scuttled talks with the group. “The Taliban wants to make a deal, and we’re meeting with them,” Mr. Trump said here during a meeting with Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani. “We’re going to stay until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make to make a deal very badly,” said Mr. Trump, who reaffirmed his desire to reduce America’s troop presence here to 8,600, down from about 12,000 to 13,000.Mr.

Topical videos:

usr: 9
This is interesting!