Out of the shadows in death: the CIA honors its fallen
May 22nd, 2012
07:38 PM ET

Out of the shadows in death: the CIA honors its fallen

By Suzanne Kelly

When you're a spy, you have to accept the fact that everything you do will go unnoticed by most people during your life. Sometimes that secrecy even follows you in death, with a simple star carved into a marble wall at Langley being the only memorial to your service.

Sometimes though, in death, the names come out, along with just enough information to piece together a glimpse of what life - and death - have been like for CIA spies over the past three decades.

This past Monday, 15 names were added to what's known by insiders as the "Book of Honor." When a name is inscribed in the book, it allows family and friends of the fallen to publicly acknowledge in general terms, how their loved ones spent at least part of their lives, and how they died.

The names and brief stories shared with a crowd said to number in the hundreds gathered in the CIA lobby, told a story of an Agency spread far and wide; the story of an Agency not only consumed with tracking down terrorists, but sometimes becoming victims of the hunted.

Jeffrey R. Patneau, described by CIA Director David Petraeus as a "young can-do officer," was killed in Yemen in September 2008. Yemen has become a hotbed of al Qaeda activity and is where a recent al Qaeda in the Arabian Pensinsula (AQAP) plot to bring down an airliner with a difficult-to-detect new explosive material, was recently foiled by undercover operatives.

Five of those honored this year died on April 18, 1983, when terrorists targeted the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people. Phyliss Nancy Faraci had also been one of the last four Americans evacuated from the Mekong Delta when Saigon fell, according to an Agency spokesman. She died in Beirut along with Deborah M. Hixson, Frank J. Johnston, and a married couple, James F. and Monique N. Lewis. Petraeus noted the Embassy bombing as the place where the Agency "first caught sight of the adversary we face today."

To get a sense of just how widespread the CIA presence has been over the years, Matthew K. Gannon was killed in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; Molly N. Hardy was killed in the 1998 suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi; Leslianne Shedd died when hijackers downed the plane she was on over the Indian Ocean in November 1996; Jacqueline K. Van Landingham was killed in Pakistan in March 1995; Barry S. Castiglione died during the ocean rescue of a colleague in 1992 in the waters off El Salvador; Lawrence N. Freedman was killed in Somalia in December 1992; Thomas M. Jennings, Jr. died in Bosnia in 1997; Freddie R. Woodruff was killed in Georgia in 1993; and Robert W. Woods died in a plane crash during a humanitarian mission to Ethiopia in 1989.

Petraeus told the group of gathered mourners and friends that the officers who have died for the mission "all heard the same call to duty and answered it without hesitation - never for acclaim, always for country."

Patneau's star is the newest to be carved into the wall, bringing the total number of stars representing fallen officers to 103.

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