Christopher Speer

Christopher James Speer (September 9, 1973 – August 6, 2002)[3] was a United States Army combat medic and an armed member of[4] a special operations team who was killed during a skirmish in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002. Speer, who was not wearing a helmet at the time because the mission called for indigenous clothing, suffered a head wound from a grenade and succumbed to his injuries approximately two weeks later. Omar Khadr was charged and convicted of throwing the grenade that killed Speer.[5][6]

Christopher Speer
Christopher J. Speer -b.jpg
Speer as a staff sergeant
Born(1973-09-09)September 9, 1973
Denver, Colorado, United States
DiedAugust 6, 2002(2002-08-06) (aged 28)
Ramstein Air Base, Germany[1]
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1992–2002
RankSergeant First Class
Unit3rd Special Forces Group
1st SFOD-D (Delta Force)
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
AwardsSoldier's Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
RelationsTodd Speer (brother)
Tabitha Speer (widow)
Taryn and Tanner Speer (children)[2]

Training and deploymentEdit

Speer enlisted in the United States Army in July 1992 and after initial training as a combat medic, was assigned to the Army Hospital at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, until 1994.[1] He received 18 Delta combat medic training at the Joint Special Operations University at Hurlburt Field, Florida.[citation needed]

Speer was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group upon completing training as a Special Forces medic in 1997. As part of the 1st SFOD-D (known as Delta Force and based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina), he deployed to Afghanistan in Spring 2002 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.[1]


Speer at Bagram being unloaded by the 396th Medical.

On July 27, 2002, Christopher Speer and a group of four other soldiers on reconnaissance patrol were injured during a firefight upon attacking a building in Khost Province, Afghanistan.[1] SFC Christopher Speer was part of a squad assigned the task of going through the ruins of the building after it had been destroyed.[7]

The injured Speer was evacuated by air to Bagram Air Force Base and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he died on August 6, 2002.[1]

The incident received widespread attention as fifteen-year-old Toronto-born Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen with Egyptian and Palestinian ancestry, was captured and subsequently imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, accused of killing Speer.[8][9] Khadr was held without trial for 8 years. In October 2010, he pleaded guilty to, among other crimes, "murder in violation of the laws of war" for the killing of Speer. At that time, he said he had thrown the hand grenade which killed Speer in the firefight.[10][11]

The charges against Khadr were filed under the Military Commission Act of 2006 and considered under US law to be war crimes, though the act passed into law several years after Speer's death.[12] In 2013, Khadr filed a civil suit against the government of Canada, alleging that the government had breached his Charter rights. In the lawsuit, he claimed he had only signed the plea agreement because he believed it was the only way he could gain transfer from Guantanamo. In an affidavit filed in the proceedings, he said he had no memory of the firefight.[13][14]

Prior to his plea of guilty to Speer's death, Khadr became the focus of several legal disputes. On February 4, 2008, American officials accidentally released an unredacted version of testimony which—according to Khadr's lawyers—showed that Khadr was not responsible for Speer's death.[15] In January 2006 Colonel Morris Davis, Khadr's prosecutor, in statements to the press, said that Khadr owed his life to American medics who stepped over the dead body of their colleague to treat Khadr's wounds. Speer died from his wounds on August 6, 2002, at the age of 28.[16][17]


On the second anniversary of Speer's death, SFC Speer's widow Tabitha and a comrade of his, Layne Morris, initiated legal proceedings to claim compensation from the estate of Omar Khadr's father Ahmed Khadr.

On October 25, 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the murder of Speer in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, conspiracy, two counts of providing material support for terrorism and spying in the United States.[11]

On October 29, 2010, after taking the stand, Khadr apologized to the widow of Speer stating "I'm really sorry for the pain I caused to your family. I wish I could do something to take that pain away.", and further stating that his eight years in prison had taught him "the beauty of life".[18]


Speer was awarded the Soldier's Medal for risking his life to save two Afghan children who were trapped in a minefield on July 21, 2002, two weeks before his death.[6]

The infirmary at a special forces base in Kunar Province was named the "Christopher J. Speer Medical Clinic" in his memory.[1]

Awards and decorationsEdit

Speer's awards include:[19]

Personal decorations
  Soldier's Medal
  Bronze Star Medal with "V" device
  Purple Heart
  Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  Meritorious Service Medal
  Army Commendation Medal
  Army Achievement Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster
  Army Good Conduct Medal
  Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 1 Campaign star
  Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
  Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  National Defense Service Medal
   NCO Professional Development Ribbon with award numeral 2
  Army Service Ribbon
Other accoutrements
  Combat Medical Badge
  Parachutist Badge
  Air Assault Badge
  Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Badge
  Scuba Diver Badge
  Silver German Parachutist Badge[citation needed]
  Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle and Pistol Component Bar
  U.S Army Special Forces Distinctive unit insignia
  Special Forces Tab
  United States Army Special Operations Command Combat Service Identification Badge


  1. ^ a b c d e f Casscells, Samuel Ward (2009). When It Mattered Most: Remembering Our Fallen Medical Personnel in Iraq. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs). ISBN 9780160818523. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  2. ^ "BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer" (PDF). USASOC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  3. ^ "United States v. Omar Ahmed Khadr Defense Motion to Dismiss for Violation of the Sixth Amendment Right to a Speedy Trial Government Response D-068" (PDF). U.S. Department of Defense. 11 July 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2009.
  4. ^ Khan, Mohammed Azhar Ali (2012-08-03). "Canada: An ominous trend". Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  5. ^ House, Dawn (26 January 2008). "Feds fight order to turn over terrorist funds". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 26 June 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Dedication SFC Christopher J. Speer" (PDF). Journal of Special Operations Medicine. Fall 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-22. Six days before he received the wound that killed him, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer walked into a minefield to rescue two wounded Afghan children, according to fellow soldiers. He applied a tourniquet to one child and bandaged the other, they said. Then he stopped a passing military truck to take the wounded children to a U.S. Army field hospital. Speer saved those children, his colleagues said.
  7. ^ Shephard, Michelle (April 29, 2007). "Khadr goes on trial". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
  8. ^ Alberts, Sheldon (June 29, 2007). "U.S. Supreme Court reverses stance, will review terror suspects appeal". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  9. ^ Reynolds, Richard (January 12, 2006). "Meet terrorism's first family, or so US military prosecutors allege". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  10. ^ "No Khadr return deal in place: Cannon". CBC News. October 28, 2010. Archived from the original on November 1, 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  11. ^ a b Meserve, Jeanne (October 25, 2010). "Khadr plea". CNN. Archived from the original on October 26, 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  12. ^ Rona, Gabor (May 2008). "Legal Issues in the 'War on Terrorism' – Reflecting on the Conversation Between Silja N.U. Voneky and John Bellinger" (PDF). German Law Journal. 9 (5): 711–736. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-20. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  13. ^ Shephard, Michelle (13 December 2013). "Omar Khadr: No memory of firefight in Afghanistan". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Omar Khadr explains war-crimes guilty pleas in court filing". CBC News. 13 December 2013. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013.
  15. ^ "New witness account shows Khadr charges should be dropped: lawyers". CBC News. February 5, 2008. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
  16. ^ "U.S. prosecutor's comments on Khadr reviewed". Toronto Star. January 12, 2006. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011.
  17. ^ "Terrorism charges reinstated against Khadr". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. September 24, 2007. Archived from the original on 11 August 2022. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  18. ^ Montet, Virginie (October 29, 2010). "Khadr says sorry to slain soldier's widow". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 31 October 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  19. ^ "CHRISTOPHER J. SPEER, Green Beret Foundation". Green Beret Foundation. August 7, 2002. Archived from the original on 28 April 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2020.

External linksEdit