CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony [May 21 2019]

 “We honor the men and women of this Agency who perished in the line of duty. The cause to which they devoted their lives—the freedom and safety of Americans—endures.”

CIA Director Gina Haspel (May 21 2019)

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. There are 133 stars carved into the white Alabama marble wall. Eleven represent women.

On Tuesday (May 21 2019), 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. Four stars were added to the Memorial Wall this year. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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Daniel Dennett and John Creech were flying in a twin-engine aircraft on an operation for the Central Intelligence Group — the immediate precursor to the CIA — when their plane crashed into a mountain in the Horn of Africa in 1947. [Ethiopia — March 20, 1947]

When the wall went up in 1974, they were excluded because they were considered not technically part of the CIA.

Nicholas Dujmovic, a longtime CIA historian who retired in 2016, wrote in an article on the CIA website, there was hardly any difference between the two groups, save for their initials.

Two other new stars honor officers whose names and contributions remain classified.

There are now 133 stars on the wall.

I would like to make two comments. Firstly, it is certainly controversial to honor two CIG operatives with a star on the CIA wall.

This is a very political decision. There is a fine balance between honouring the Past and abusing History.

I am puzzled by the two non-identified new stars. In a recent speech, DCIA Gina Haspel (Auburn University – April 18 2019) stated that forty-two Agency men and women have died in the line of duty since 9/11.

RELATED POST: The CIA Book of Honor — Gina Haspel Visits Auburn University

As I have argued, this would imply that not a single CIA officer died in the line of duty over the last year.

Perhaps Director Haspel misspoke? Or could it be that two CIA officers died since her speech and were immediately honoured with a star?

The other possibility is that the two stars honour CIA officers who died before 9/11. But then, why is their identity kept secret?

Official Statement

Today, the Central Intelligence Agency held its annual Memorial Ceremony to remember, honor, and celebrate the courageous CIA officers who died serving their country.

This year, there are four new stars on the Memorial Wall, each commemorating a distinguished officer. Two of those stars honor officers whose names and contributions remain classified even after their deaths.

The other two stars honor Lieutenant John W. Creech and Daniel C. Dennett, Jr., who were on a mission to Addis Ababa when their plane crashed in bad weather. John and Daniel worked for the Central Intelligence Group (CIG)—the immediate predecessor to CIA.

In her remarks to those assembled before the Memorial Wall, Director Haspel said, “We honor the men and women of this Agency who perished in the line of duty. The cause to which they devoted their lives—the freedom and safety of Americans—endures.”

During the ceremony, Director Haspel presented the families of the four fallen officers with a marble replica of their loved one’s star.

CIA’s Memorial Ceremony began in 1987 and is attended each year by hundreds of employees, retirees, and family members of the officers who died serving the CIA. In 1974, CIA dedicated the Memorial Wall with 31 stars to honor those who had fallen since the Agency’s founding in 1947. There are now 133 stars on the wall.

TIMELINE

July 1974 — The Memorial Wall is created; 31 stars chiseled into the marble.

1987 —  First Memorial Ceremony is held with Deputy Director Robert M. Gates presiding;  number of stars on the wall has grown to 50.

1997 — 70 stars, 29 of which had names

2002 — 79 stars

2004 — 83  stars

2009 — 90  stars

2013 — 107  stars

2014 — 111  stars

2016 — 117  stars

May 2017 — 8 new stars; 125 stars chiseled into the wall

May 2018 — 4 new stars; 129 stars

May 2019 — 4 new stars; 133 stars

REFERENCES

CIA Pays Tribute to Its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony — CIA Website

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CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony [May 21 2019]

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