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.[1]


The Memorial Wall is located in the Original Headquarters Building lobby on the north wall. There are 102 stars carved into the white Vermont marble wall,[2] each one representing an employee who died in the line of service.[1] Paramilitary officers of the CIA's Special Activities Division comprise the majority of those memorialized.[3]

A black Moroccan goatskin-bound book, called the "Book of Honor," sits in a steel frame beneath the stars, its "slender case jutting out from the wall just below the field of stars," and is "framed in stainless steel and topped by an inch-thick plate of glass."[2] Inside it shows the stars, arranged by year of death and, when possible, lists the names of employees who died in CIA service alongside them.[1][2] The identities of the unnamed stars remain secret, even in death.[1] In 1997, there were 70 stars, 29 of which had names.[2] There were 79 stars in 2002, [4] 83 in 2004,[5] 90 in 2009,[6] and 102 in 2010. 62 of the 102 entries in the book contain names, while the other employees are represented only by a gold star followed by a blank space.[7]

The Wall bears the inscription IN HONOR OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY in gold block letters.[2] The Wall is flanked by the flag of the United States on the left and a flag bearing the CIA seal on the right.[2]

Adding new starsEdit

When new names are added to the Book of Honor, stone carver Tim Johnston of Carving and Restoration Team in Manassas, Virginia adds a new star to the Wall.[1] Johnston learned the process of creating the stars from the original sculptor of the Wall, Harold Vogel, who created the first 31 stars[5] and the Memorial Wall inscription when the Wall was created in July 1974.[1] The wall was "first conceived as a small plaque to recognize those from the CIA who died in Southeast Asia, the idea quickly grew to a memorial for Agency employees who died in the line of duty."[5] The process used by Johnson to add a new star is as follows:



The Honor and Merit Awards Board (HMAB) recommends approval of candidates to be listed on the wall to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.[1] The CIA states that "Inclusion on the Memorial Wall is awarded posthumously to employees who lose their lives while serving their country in the field of intelligence. Death may occur in the foreign field or in the United States. Death must be of an inspirational or heroic character while in the performance of duty; or as the result of an act of terrorism while in the performance of duty; or as an act of premeditated violence targeted against an employee, motivated solely by that employee's Agency affiliation; or in the performance of duty while serving in areas of hostilities or other exceptionally hazardous conditions where the death is a direct result of such hostilities or hazards."[1] After approval by the director, the Office of Protocol arranges for a new star to be placed on the Wall.[1]

People honored on the Memorial WallEdit

  • Douglas Mackiernan - the first CIA employee to be killed in the line of duty and the first star on the wall. Mackiernan had worked for the State Department in China since 1947. When the People's Republic of China was established at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the State Department ordered that the Tihwa (Ürümqi) consulate where Mackiernan was stationed at vice consul to be closed, and personnel were to leave the country immediately. Mackiernan, however, was ordered to stay behind, destroy cryptographic equipment, monitor the situation, and aid anti-communist Nationalists. Mackiernan fled south toward India after most escape routes were cut off, along with Frank Bessac, an American Fulbright Scholar who was in Tihwa, and three White Russians. Although Mackiernan and his party survived the Taklamakan Desert and Himalayas, Mackiernan was shot by Tibetan border guards, probably because they mistook them as Communist infiltrators. Although Mackiernan's death was reported on the front cover of the New York Times at the time of his death and his name appears on a plaque in the State Department lobby, the CIA did not reveal his service, because he was operating under diplomatic cover. His star was acknowledged to family members in a secret memorial ceremony at the Wall in 2000 but remained officially undisclosed until 2006, when his name was placed into the CIA's Book of Honor.[8]
  • James J. McGrath - A native of Middletown, Connecticut, McGrath died following an accident while working on a high-power German transmitter in January 1957. His star was placed on the wall in 2007.[9]
  • Stephen Kasarda, Jr. - A native of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, Kasarda died in 1960 while stationed in Southeast Asia. He was working with air supply missions being flown into Tibet.[9]
  • Rachel A. Dean - Dean was a native of Stanardsville, Virginia who joined the CIA as a young support officer in January 2005. She died in a car accident in September 2006 while on temporary duty in Kazakhstan.[9]
  • Matthew Gannon - Gannon was the CIA's deputy station chief in Beirut, Lebanon and was one of at least four American intelligence officers aboard the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103, sitting in Clipper Class seat 14J, when it was blown apart.
  • Tucker Gougelmann - Gougelmann was a Paramilitary Operations Officer from the CIA's Special Activities Division who worked in the CIA from 1949 to 1972, serving in Europe, Afghanistan, Korea, and Vietnam. Gougelmann returned to Saigon in spring 1975 in an attempt to secure exit visas for loved ones after North Vietnam had launched a major offensive. He missed his final flight out of Saigon, and was captured by the North Vietnamese, who tortured him for 11 months before he died. Gougelmann was honored with a Memorial Star after the criteria for inclusion on the Wall was broadened and after "It was determined that although Gougelmann did not die in the line of duty while employed by CIA, his past affiliation with the Agency led to his death."[10]
  • Four CIA Lockheed U-2 pilots who died in plane crashes - Wilburn S. Rose (d. May 15, 1956), Frank G. Grace (d. August 31, 1956), Howard Carey (d. September 17, 1956), and Eugene "Buster" Edens (d. April 1965). Rose, Grace, Carey, and Edens were honored with stars in 1974.[11]
  • Kenneth E. Haas and Robert C. Ames - died in the 1983 Beirut embassy bombing.[12]
  • Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann - was a Paramilitary Operations Officer from Special Activities Division killed during a Taliban prison uprising in November 2001 in Mazar-e Sharif (see Battle of Qala-i-Jangi). His star, the 79th, was added in 2002.[4] Officer Spann was posthumously awarded the Intelligence Star for valor for his actions.
  • Christopher Glenn Mueller and William "Chief" Carlson - were two paramilitary contractors from Special Activities Division killed in an ambush in Afghanistan in fall 2003.[5][13][14] On 21 May 2004, these officers' stars were dedicated at a memorial ceremony.[15] "The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated," then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet told a gathering of several hundred Agency employees and family members of those killed in the line of duty. "Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined." Mueller, a former US Navy SEAL and Carlson, a former Army Ranger, Green Beret and Delta Force soldier, died while tracking high level terrorists near Shkin, Afghanistan, on October 25, 2003. Both officers saved the lives of others, including Afghan soldiers, during the ambush.[14][15][16]
  • Gregg Wenzel, an operations officer who was killed in Ethiopia in 2003, also was honored with a star on the CIA's memorial wall. A former defense attorney in Florida, Wenzel grew up in Monroe, New York, and was a member of the first clandestine service training class to graduate after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. His Agency affiliation was withheld for six years. Overseas, Wenzel gathered intelligence on a wide range of national security priorities. In Director Leon Panetta’s words: “At age 33, a promising young officer—a leader and friend to so many—was taken from us. We find some measure of solace in knowing that Gregg achieved what he set out to do: He lived for a purpose greater than himself. Like his star on this Wall, that lesson remains with us always.”[17]
  • Jennifer Lynne Matthews, 45, killed in the Camp Chapman attack on December 30, 2009.[18]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "The Stars on the Wall." Central Intelligence Agency 24 April 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Gup, Ted. "Star Agents: The anonymous stars in the CIA's Book of Honor memorialize covert operatives lost in the field." Washington Post 7 September 1997.
  3. Gup, Ted (2000). The Book of Honor: Cover Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "CIA Honors Slain Agency Officers at Annual Ceremony." Central Intelligence Agency 31 May 2002.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "CIA Remembers Employees Killed in the Line of Duty." Central Intelligence Agency 21 May 2004,
  6. "[1]." Central Intelligence Agency 1 June 2009.
  7. Template:Cite web
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "CIA Adds Four Stars to Memorial Wall." Central Intelligence Agency 20 May 2007.
  10. "CIA Commemorates 78th Star at Memorial Ceremony." Central Intelligence Agency 8 June 2001.
  11. "Remembering CIA's Heroes: Agency Pilots in the U-2 Program." Central Intelligence Agency 14 May 2008.
  12. "CIA Holds Ceremony to Honor Fallen Colleagues." Central Intelligence Agency 2 June 2008.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Template:Cite news
  15. 15.0 15.1
  17. press release
  18. Warrick, Joby, "CIA Ceremony Honors 12 Who Were Killed In Action", Washington Post, June 8, 2010, p. 3.
de:CIA Memorial Wall
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