“African Americans have long made critical contributions to our Agency’s mission, taking the risks and bearing the sacrifices that intelligence work often demands. We at CIA join our fellow citizens in remembering the immeasurable sacrifice, strength, and courage of African Americans in building a more free and just society. It is a cause they nobly advanced, and one that we all must carry forward to this day.”
CIA Director John Brennan — February 26 2014 CIA’s Black History Month Celebration
The Memorial Wall is a memorial at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It honors CIA employees who died in the line of service. Today, there are 125 stars carved into the white Alabama marble wall. [WIKIPEDIA]. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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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 Wall is flanked by the flag of the United States on the left and a flag bearing the CIA seal on the right.
Life at the CIA
Jacqueline K. Van Landingham joined the CIA in July 1985 as a clerk-typist, working in the Directorate of Operations (now the National Clandestine Service), Near East (NE) Division, Logistics Branch.
With no previous Agency experience, Jackie adapted quickly to the frenetic pace of the NE division, handling high volume cable traffic and an assortment of logistical support duties for her colleagues both at Headquarters and overseas. She was a fast learner who impressed her superiors time and again with her abilities.
Less than a year after she joined the CIA, she was selected to undergo training for an assignment overseas as an operations support assistant (OSA). She also received a substantial cash award for her excellent performance—not a routine occurrence for a new employee.
Her Final Mission
Her fourth overseas assignment was in Karachi, Pakistan. starting in the summer of 1994. Once again, she applied her specialty as an operations support officer. Both of her young daughters lived with her overseas, while her husband was stationed in another country.
In the morning hours on Wednesday, March 8, 1995, the US Consulate’s 20-passenger shuttle bus was attacked by two gun-wielding terrorists armed with AK-47 rifles. The bus had just picked up three passengers in a residential area and had turned onto a major road from the airport to the city center.
While the bus was stopped at a traffic light, a yellow taxi pulled up next to the vehicle. Two men leapt out of the cab, shot out the bus’s windshield, and then walked alongside the vehicle, methodically firing a large number of single rounds into it. The shooters then jumped back into their taxi and sped away.
All three passengers were hit, but the driver was unharmed. One slightly wounded passenger told the driver to head for the hospital. One passenger was pronounced dead at the hospital and, shortly thereafter, Jacqueline Elaine Keys Van Landingham, the only Agency employee on the shuttle, died from her wounds as doctors at the hospital struggled to stabilize her condition.
Jacqueline K. Van Landingham was survived by her husband and their two young daughters. She was 33 years old.
[NOTE: Also killed in the attack was a signals intelligence (SIGINT) intercept operator named Gary C. Durrell, who worked for a joint CIA-NSA SIGINT organizations called the Special Collection Service (SCS). In September 1999, a Pakistani antiterrorism court acquitted three suspects in the Van Landingham-Durrell killings and dismissed the case for lack of evidence.]
Honouring Jackie’s Service: Jackie’s legacy was immortalized with an anonymous charcoal gray star carved into the Agency’s Memorial Wall; a commemoration of the strength, sacrifice, and devotion of officers like Jackie. It would be another 15 years [May 22, 2012] before Jackie’s name could be unveiled and added to the Book of Honour. [CIA website]
Did you know Jacqueline K. Van Landingham? Would you like to share a story? Just let us know.
PS — On May 22 2017, the Central Intelligence Agency held its annual memorial ceremony to pay tribute to the men and women of CIA who have died in the line of duty.
Eight stars were added to the Memorial Wall. Three of the stars added pay tribute to the lives of David W. Bevan, Darrell A. Eubanks, and John S. Lewis. All three men died when their plane crashed while carrying out a mission in Laos in 1961.
A fourth star was added to honor Mark S. Rausenberger, an Agency officer of eighteen years, who died while serving overseas. The circumstances of his death remain classified.
The names of the other four individuals honored with 2017 carved stars remain classified.
Obviously, one — or even several — of these four individuals could be a woman. We simply do not know.
Moreover, in September 2016, Abigail Jones published a piece in Newsweek titled “Women of the CIA“. Jones wrote:
“There are more women in the CIA than ever before, with women operating at unprecedented levels on every floor of CIA headquarters and throughout its far-flung global outposts. Yet women remain underrepresented in executive-level jobs and the clandestine service.
The Memorial Wall, in the lobby of the CIA in McLean, Virginia, has 117 stars [INTEL TODAY: this was the correct number at the time], honoring the agency officers who’ve died in the field. Eleven represent women.”
I wrote a short post about ten of these women. QUESTION: Who is the missing star? Drop a comment or send an email if you know the answer, assuming — of course — that this information is not classified.
Director Leon E. Panetta Honors First Agency Officer Killed in Vietnam at (2011) Annual Memorial Ceremony
During the Agency’s annual memorial ceremony on Monday, May 23, (2011) Director Leon E. Panetta paid tribute to the first American woman killed in the Vietnam War.
Women of the CIA — Newsweek
The Mystery of Jane Wallis Burrell: The First CIA Officer To Die in the Agency’s Service — CIA news & Information
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Barbara A. Robbins — CIA Website
Tribute to Women Who Have Died — STUDIES IN INTELLIGENCE
REAGAN SAYS BLAST WON’T DETER PEACE EFFORTS — NYT 21 April 1983
Memorial Service 1983 — CIA Website
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Jacqueline K. Van Landingham — CIA Website
U.S. Seeking 3 Gunmen In Karachi — NYT March 10 1995
Remembering CIA’s Heroes: Leslianne Shedd — CIA Website
CIA Adds Four Stars to Memorial Wall — CIA website May 21 2006
Khowst – 5 Years Later — Cia Website
Who was Elizabeth Hanson? — COLBY Magazine
Silent Stars — The Washingtonian
CIA : A Few Good Women – Jacqueline K. Van Landingham ( 1962 – March 8 1995)