From my dad's death in Afghanistan 20 years ago to Taliban retaking the country. How did we get here?

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 小时. Photos of my father and pictures of my mourning mother holding me would be in every newspaper in America.

Shannon Spann and her late husband Johnny "麦克风" Spann

Shannon Spann and her late husband Johnny “麦克风” Spann (狐狸)

I grew up alongside the conflict that claimed my dad’s life. 在许多方面, 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.

WHEN ‘OLD FRIENDS’ BIDEN AND CHINA’S XI MET, IT WAS BAD FOR AMERICA

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. 今年, my family and I watched in anger as that nation fell to the Taliban.

Shannon Spann, wife of CIA officer Johnny Michael "Mike" Spann, follows her husband's casket while holding her 6-month old son Jake, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, 在十二月. 10, 2001.

Shannon Spann, wife of CIA officer Johnny Michael “麦克风” Spann, follows her husband’s casket while holding her 6-month old son Jake, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, 在十二月. 10, 2001. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, 文件)

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,” 斯科特说. “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.

Dave was at the fortress with my dad when he was killed. “I will forever grapple with his death and there are many times still when I catch myself not believing he was killed,” said Dave. “There is a shadow with me alwaysand it is Mike.

In Scott’s words, “Losing your dad was a tremendous loss to me personally and to the rest of the team. I think we all, in our own way, resolved to carry on and complete the mission as your dad would have wanted us to.

They were successful in severely limiting the Taliban and al Qaeda’s capabilities to carry out attacks against our own country, and the nation of Afghanistan was made more secure.

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.

美国. also turned its back on the Afghan allies that made our fight against the Taliban so effective in the first place.

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