“There are now 125 stars on our Memorial Wall, each representing a life that is dear to us, and will be for all time. We remain forever devoted to them, as they were to us. And we will strive to make them proud of us, as we are of them.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo — May 22 2017
“They were young firefighters-turned-CIA operatives working thousands of miles from home in a remote corner of Southeast Asia. David W. Bevan, Darrell A. Eubanks and John S. Lewis, all in their mid-20s, were on a mission to drop supplies for anti-Communist forces in what was then known as the Kingdom of Laos. But on Aug. 13, 1961, the CIA-operated Air America plane carrying the men tried turning out of a mountaintop bowl near the Laotian capital of Vientiane and one of its wings hooked into a ridge. (…) The CIA operatives died, along with Air America’s two pilots.”
Ian Shapira — Washington Post (June 18 2017)
“The CIA specifically invited/recruited smokejumpers into the covert operations business for several reasons: 1) We were damned good looking. 2) We didn’t get airsick. (…) 6) We were not active duty military, so our direct involvement in an affair of arms didn’t constitute an official act of war. … 9) We were deniable. … 10) Did I mention that we were damn good looking?”
Don Courtney — Smokejumpers and the CIA
On May 22 2017, the Central Intelligence Agency held its 30th annual memorial ceremony. The ceremony began in 1987 and is attended each year by hundreds of employees, retirees, and family members of those who died in service with the CIA. After 56 years, the CIA finally acknowledged the death of three operatives who had died in Laos. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: CIA Book of Honor
Before jumping into the subject of this post, allow me to make a couple of comments.
Top Story 2019 — This series ranks among our top 2019 stories! (#5)
RELATED POST: INTEL TODAY — Top 10 Stories of 2019
I have long argued that the CIA was hiding the identity of a female officer recently honoured by a star on the Memorial Wall.
On March 22 2019, the CIA indeed confirmed that 11 stars represent women. And, to the best of my knowledge, only 10 were known to have been “killed in the line of duty.”
On May 20 2019, the Washington Post revealed the name of the mysterious star. And, as I suspected, her story is rather unusual.
The daughter of Egyptian immigrants, Ranya Abdelsayed (04/28/1979) joined the CIA in 2006. On August 28 2013, while serving in Afghanistan, she committed suicide.
New Feature — In a recent Post, I informed you that I have decided to create special pages for our Top Dossiers.These pages will include references — quick summary and links — to the most important posts on these subjects as well as a resources page.
RELATED POST: Intel Today Top DOSSIERS — New Feature Coming Soon!
A “CIA Book of Honor” has just been created. This allow you to find easily the references to the stars we have already written about. I will try to keep this page up to date.
2017 CIA Annual Memorial Ceremony
The — almost — annual memorial ceremony pays 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 in 2017, bringing — at the time — to total number to 125.
“CIA dedicated the Memorial Wall with 31 stars in 1974 to honor those who had fallen since the Agency’s founding in 1947. There are now 125 stars on the wall.
Three of the stars added on Monday pay tribute to the lives of David W. Bevan, Darrell A. Eubanks, and John S. Lewis. They came to the Agency by way of the Smokejumpers – brave firefighters who parachute into remote areas to combat wildfires.
CIA has benefited from the service of many former Smokejumpers, including for its Air America program. 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.
In his remarks to those assembled before the Memorial Wall, Director Pompeo said, “there are now 125 stars on our Memorial Wall, each representing a life that is dear to us, and will be for all time. We remain forever devoted to them, as they were to us. And we will strive to make them proud of us, as we are of them.”
During the ceremony, Director Pompeo presented the families of the fallen officers with a marble replica of their loved one’s star.”
Stars 118, 119 & 120 : David W. Bevan, Darrell A. Eubanks, and John S. Lewis
Between the 1950s and 1970s, the agency hired more than 100 smokejumpers. Many worked as “kickers,” dropping supplies in remote parts of Laos and Tibet.
In 1993, William M. Leary — University of Georgia history professor and Air America expert — wrote the CIA a letter urging the agency to give the three men Memorial Wall recognition.
“From an historian’s point-of-view, at least, there does not appear to be any good reason why this should not be done.
I hope that you will give this matter your consideration,” Leary wrote to David Gries at the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence.
David W. Bevan, a smokejumper-turned-CIA-operative, was one of five men killed in an Air America plane crash on August 13, 1961, in Laos. Bevan was awarded a star on the CIA’s Memorial Wall in May 2017.
Darrell Eubanks and John Lewis were also awarded a star on the 2017 CIA’s Memorial Wall .
“We couldn’t believe after 56 years, something like this was going to happen,” said Kathleen Sallee, 70, Bevan’s younger sister, a retired medical technologist who lives in Washington state about 100 miles away from the town where she and her brother grew up.
I was told that someone at the agency felt for years that they should be recognized, so he collected the research to satisfy the criteria they should get the award.”
The CIA is making an effort to honor those who died in the agency’s earlier years. In 2016, four people who died in the 1950s and 1960s had stars carved into the wall.
Statistics by cause since 9/11
Killed in combat :: 79 – 82 – 83 – 86 = (4)
Training exercise :: 80 = (1)
Travel accidents :: 81 – 87 – 114 – 115 – 116 – 117 – 118 – 119 -120 = (9)
Other accidents :: 84 (electrocuted) – 85 (electrocuted) = (2)
These statistics only include the list of stars I have discussed so far.
When the CIA honor several officers with a star during the same ceremony, I have no way of knowing the star number of a given individual.
However, according to CIA records, Rachel Dean is star #87. Therefore, I will assume that — in such case — the stars are ranked according to the year of death. This may or may not be the methodology used by the CIA. For instance, they might use the number of years served at the Agency.
When several individuals die on the same day (same event), I rank their stars by alphabetical order. Again, the CIA may use a different methodology.
CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony — CIA official website
CIA Memorial Wall — Wikipedia
Amnesia to Anamnesis – Commemoration of the Dead at CIA — CIA official website
They were smokejumpers when the CIA sent them to Laos. They came back in caskets. — Washington Post (June 18 2017)
CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony
The CIA Book of Honor — Stars 118, 119 & 120 : David W. Bevan, Darrell A. Eubanks, and John S. Lewis