A young man whose father gave his life for us in Afghanistan now wonders about the value of the sacrifice. After the Biden Bugout, that is a legitimate question. Jake Spann wants answers.

Spann: On Nov. 25, 2001, I was an infant when a group of Marines came to my family’s house in Manassas, Virginia, to inform us that my father, Johnny “Mike” Spann, wasn’t coming home. He had been killed in battle at the Qala-i-Jangi fortress in Afghanistan.

My dad was one of the first intelligence officers sent to Afghanistan after 9/11. His death would be world news in less than 24 hours. Photos of my father and pictures of my mourning mother holding me would be in every newspaper in America.

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I grew up alongside the conflict that claimed my dad’s life. In many ways, I know more about the war in Afghanistan than I do about him. I know him as an American hero, but my picture of him as a person is stitched together with fragments of stories passed down to me by my family and my dad’s colleagues.

The experience of missing a person you’ve never known is like missing a ghost. I remember looking for him in the crowd when I graduated high school. All I’ve ever wanted to hear is my father telling me that he’s proud.

Thoughts of my dad and Afghanistan occur more often in the fall, between September and November, especially on Nov. 25. This year, my family and I watched in anger as that nation fell to the Taliban.

Scott Spellmeyer and Dave Tyson are retired CIA officers who worked with my dad as members of Alpha Team, the combined forces of paramilitary CIA and DOD special forces. Their mission in 2001 was to ensure that Afghanistan would not be a place where terrorist attacks against the U.S. could originate. “Mike was solid as a rock,” Scott said. “A total professional. When the chips were down, he was the one you could count on.”

“He was uncompromising in his patriotism and devotion to duty,” Dave told me. “His duty was protecting his country and its people.  You could always rely on Mike, especially in difficult times.” Scott told me, “When we drove into Mazar-i-Sharif, and actually entered the city, it was like a victory parade. It was like we had won WWII. People were very jubilant.”

…When the objective changed from crushing terrorism to trying to “democratize” Afghanistan, that’s when things began to fall apart, according to Dave. “The objective changed to attempting to democratize Afghanistan. Too much, too fast. The U.S. wanted to fundamentally change the country instead of staying with our original mission, which was making Afghanistan a place where terrorist attacks could not originate against the United States.”

Dave sums up his own feelings about how things ended up pretty succinctly. “We succeeded in our original mission. And we could have kept that success going by supporting the people that enabled us to succeed. Instead, we abandoned them and tried to create this new government and society based on our values. That led to failure in Afghanistan in the sense of security. Now we see the Taliban has come back and taken over the country again.”

This piece was written by David Kamioner on November 29, 2021. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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