The CIA operatives who were acknowledged died in events dating to 1983.… (Charles Ommaney, Getty…)
WASHINGTON — The CIA on Tuesday disclosed the names of 15 of its operatives killed in the line of duty over the last 30 years, the result of a new effort to honor fallen officers whose sacrifices had long gone unrecognized by all but a few.
Fourteen of the dead already had a star inscribed in their memory on the CIA's wall of honor in the lobby of the old headquarters building on the agency's Langley, Va., campus. But their names had been withheld. In a closed agency ceremony Monday their names were added to the Book of Honor, which accompanies the stars.
In addition, a new star was added this year for Jeffrey R. Patneau, who died at age 26 in Yemen in 2008 from injuries sustained in a car accident. He was the 103rd CIA officer recognized as having died in the line of duty.
"The 103 souls represented by the stars on the wall behind me all heard the same call to duty and answered it without hesitation — never for acclaim, always for country," CIA Director David H. Petraeus said at the ceremony, according to a CIA statement. "Their words and deeds will inspire us forever, and their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten."
Many of the CIA officers were working under State Department cover, and some are recognized in a memorial list kept on the website of the American Foreign Service Assn. of diplomats who died in the line of duty.
Some were identified as CIA employees in news media accounts at the time of their deaths. Several of them had been secretly awarded intelligence medals. But Tuesday's statement from the CIA marked the first official acknowledgment that any of them had been undercover operatives for the spy agency.
"Much of this disclosure is long, long overdue," said Ted Gup, author of "The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives," who identified some of the 15 for his book. "These families who lost loved ones who were covert not only had to endure the loss — they also were tethered to bogus cover stories for years and years. They had to raise their children without any details or specifics as to what their mothers or fathers gave their lives for."
Patneau's name had not been publicly linked to the CIA previously. The car crash in Yemen that killed him occurred on Sept. 29, 2008, the U.S. government said. Officials dispute a claim by Al Qaeda that he was killed during a well-publicized attack on the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sana, on Sept. 17 that year.
The list includes five officers — Phyliss Nancy Faraci, Deborah M. Hixon, Frank J. Johnston, James F. Lewis and Monique N. Lewis — who died in the April 18, 1983, bomb attack against the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. They were all listed at the time of the bombing as State Department employees.
And it includes four others who died in terrorist attacks. Jacqueline K. Van Landingham was shot and killed in Pakistan in March 1995. Matthew K. Gannon was killed in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Molly N. Hardy died in the August 1998 suicide bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Leslianne Shedd died in November 1996, when hijackers forced down her plane over the Indian Ocean, killing more than 125 people.
The agency also named Barry S. Castiglione, who died during the July 1992 ocean rescue of a colleague in El Salvador; Lawrence N. Freedman, killed in Somalia in December 1992; Thomas M. Jennings, Jr., who died in Bosnia-Herzegovina in December 1997; Freddie R. Woodruff, who was killed in Georgia in August 1993; and Robert W. Woods, who died in a plane crash in August 1989 with Rep. Mickey Leland on a humanitarian mission in Ethiopia.
Those five deaths, Petraeus said, are a reminder of "the sheer sweep of our global mission" and "the risks inherent to intelligence work, as well as the bravery and integrity of those who perform it."