CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony (May 25 2021)

“At decisive moments, when our nation’s security was under threat, they stepped forward and put their lives on the line, knowing that few outside our walls would ever realize what they did. I know of no higher form of patriotism, no clearer expression of what it means to serve with dignity and honor.”

CIA Director Bill Burns (May 25 2021)

The American flag and the CIA flag on either side of an inscription with 137 stars engraved.
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 137 stars carved into the white Alabama marble wall. 

May 29 2021 — On May 25 2021, the Central Intelligence Agency held its annual memorial ceremony to pay tribute to the men and women of the 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

RELATED POST: CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony — May 22 2017

RELATED POST: CIA — Memorial Ceremony 2018

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

RELATED POST:  CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony (May 21 2019) — [UPDATE : 135 STARS?]

RELATED POST: The CIA Memorial Wall — The First 78 Stars

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A special page  “CIA Book of Honor” has been created. This will 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.

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During the ceremony, CIA dedicated four new stars on its Memorial Wall, each honoring an CIA officer whose service must remain known only to a select few.

CIA Director William J. Burns presented the families of these four heroes with a marble replica of their loved one’s star.

The Memorial Wall now has 137 stars.

No 2020 Ceremony

Last year, I asked Molly Hale if the CIA annual ceremony had been cancelled in 2020? No answer…

To the best of my knowledge, the annual memorial ceremony honoring the men and women of CIA who have died in the line of duty was cancelled in 2020, probably because of the pandemic.

Then, on September 9 2020, the Agency tweeted this message:

“The Memorial Wall features 135 stars to honor officers who gave their lives in service to their country. This month, we will celebrate those lives by highlighting their contributions to CIA’s mission.” [Sep 9, 2020 — 6:00 PM]

Zero information about the new stars

The names and stories behind these four new stars remain classified.

“Of the 137 stars the wall now holds, 37 remain classified, including the years, locations, and details of the work that led to the deaths.” [CIA]

I will come back to this issue as I am not sure where this number come from. I believe that only 4 of the first 78 stars are still classified.

And I can only count 32 classified stars since 2001, including 4 names known to the media. [Glen A. Doherty, Tyrone S. Woods, Ranya Abdelsayed and Nathan Chapman]

But this only accounts for 36 classified stars

Perhaps one could add the star of Mark S. Rausenberger as the circumstances of his death remain classified.

What do we know?

Obviously (see Timeline below), stars 134 & 135 died prior September 2020.

According to the NYT, a CIA officer was killed in combat in Somalia in November 2020. This officer could be star 136.

The officer — who wasn’t named — was a former member of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and belonged to the Special Activities Center, the agency’s paramilitary division, the New York Times reported .

Since the identity of the 4 new stars was not revealed, it is however very likely that they died in recent years.

Quick comments

Prior to September 11 2001, 78 stars were chiseled into the CIA marble Memorial wall. Today, the number of stars had grown to 137.

Before 9/11, the number of stars per year was 78/54 = 1.4. After 9/11, the rate greatly increased. Actually it doubled to 59/20 = 2.9. What can possibly explain this inflation?

“This year (2021) marks the beginning of a somber chapter in the legacy of the Memorial Wall. The Agency carved new stars for the first time above the inscription.”


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

September 2020 — ??? 2 new stars; 135 stars ???

May 25 2021 — 4 new stars; 137 stars


CIA Honors Its Fallen at Annual Memorial Ceremony (May 25 2021) — CIA Websit

Star 136 — Twitter :


CIA Honors its Fallen in Annual Memorial Ceremony (May 25 2021)

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