Friday, January 22, 2010
There are 90 stars carved into the Memorial Wall at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, each one representing a CIA employee who died in the line of service. Paramilitary officers of the CIA's Special Activities Division comprise the majority of those memorialized.
The Wall bears the inscription:
IN HONOR OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY
The Memorial is beautiful in it’s simplicity. Its message of sacrifice and service is a powerful reminder that "Freedom is not Free." The price of Freedom is paid for generation by generation with the blood of patriots.
A Book of Honor lays beneath the stars, encased in an inch-thick plate of glass. This book lists 56 names of those who died in CIA service; the other 34 names remain secret, even in death.
The Memorial Wall includes Christopher Mueller and William "Chief" Carlson, both Paramilitary Operations Officers killed in the line of duty.
Mueller, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and Carlson, a former Army Special Forces soldier, Delta Force operator, and member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, were killed while tracking high level terrorists near Shkin, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2003. Both officers saved the lives of others, including Afghan soldiers, during the ambush.
The pair were working for the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, which conducts clandestine intelligence-gathering and covert operations. The CIA consulted the dead officers’ families and decided their names could be released without compromising ongoing operations.
"The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated," Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet told a gathering of several hundred Agency employees and family members of those "Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined."
The region where Carlson and Mueller were operating is part of the remote mountainous region along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden is thought to be hiding. It is also a stronghold for al-Qaida, Taliban and other anti-U.S. fighters.
Carlson and Mueller are the third and fourth CIA operatives acknowledged to have been killed in the line of duty since the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington. The first, paramilitary officer Johnny Micheal Spann, was killed during an uprising of Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners in northern Afghanistan on Nov. 25, 2001. The second, Helge Boes, died in a training accident in eastern Afghanistan, on Feb. 5, 2003.
I served with Chief Carlson. The irony here is the CIA thing wasn’t working for him like he thought it would, and he was talking his old outfit (SFOD-D) about coming out of retirement, going back INTO the Army, but he had to finish up his contract with The Company first. - S.L.