“Those who fell yesterday were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism. We owe them our deepest gratitude, and we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives—a safer America.”
Former CIA Director Leon Panetta — December 31, 2009
The Memorial Wall is a memorial at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia. the wall honors CIA employees who died in the line of service. Today, there are 125 stars carved into the white Alabama marble wall. [WIKIPEDIA]. Eleven represent women. 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.
“Elizabeth Hanson was a gifted innovator in fighting terrorists; a woman with boundless energy and a quick wit who relished the challenge of her work and was committed to excellence and integrity in everything she did.” [CIA Website]
Hanson was born in February 1979 in Rockford, and was the daughter of Duane Hanson Jr.
She graduated from Keith Country Day School in 1997, and attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, majoring in economics with a concentration in financial markets and Russian language and culture.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Hanson was prompted to explore the relationship between religion and economics.
Hanson joined the CIA as a specialist and was charged with the tasks of finding Islamic extremists and gathering information about militant networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Hanson was one of several CIA agents killed December 30 in a suicide bombing while gathering intelligence on al-Qaida at a remote base in the mountains of Afghanistan.
The four CIA agents, along with three American security guards and a Jordanian intelligence officer, died after the bomber had been invited to a meeting, supposedly to pass along important information. Officials said he turned out to be a double agent.
Memorial Ceremony (December 30 2014)
During the Agency’s Annual Memorial Ceremony on June 7, 2010 former Director Panetta explained why the heroes of Khowst, the fallen and the survivors alike, risked their lives and why their work lives on within the vital mission of the Agency.
“They remind us, as do the losses suffered by our brothers and sisters in uniform, that our nation’s liberty and security is not free. It must be fought for by every generation.
Their stories reaffirm that America is blessed with brave and selfless patriots who are willing to put their lives on the line: who are willing to shoulder that great responsibility.”
Director Brennan, in a message to the workforce on the five-year anniversary of Khowst, spoke of the tremendous risks inherent in intelligence work and of the courage of the women and men of CIA who serve on the front lines to keep our country safe, despite the risks.
“In responding to the tragedy of Khowst, our CIA family came together, cared for our wounded, and redoubled our efforts to confront a dangerous and determined enemy.
As always, CIA drew strength from adversity. We did not waver or retreat.
We showed what it means to stand firm in the face of hatred and violence.
I can think of no greater tribute to the heroes of Khowst.”
PS: Did you know Elizabeth Hanson? Would you like to share a story? Just let us know.
UPDATE — On Monday 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 – courageous Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Eight stars were added to the Memorial Wall this year (2017).
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 newly-carved stars this year remain classified.
Obviously, one — or 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, 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 — Elizabeth Hanson ( February 14 1979 – December 30 2009)