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Shannon M. Kent
Born 1983 (1983)
Died January 16, 2019(2019-01-16) (aged 35)[1]
Place of birth New York State
Place of death Manbij, Syria
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 2003–2019
Rank SCPO collar.png Senior chief petty officer
Awards Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Defense Meritorious Service ribbon.svg Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service w medal.svg Meritorious Service Medal (United States)

Shannon M. Kent was a United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and Cryptologic Technician, who was deployed to Syria and killed in the 2019 Manbij bombing.

Early life and family

Kent's maiden name was Smith, and her father, Col. Stephen Smith, was the 3rd-ranked police officer in the New York State Police.[2][3] Her mother was an elementary school teacher.[3][4] She grew up in Pine Plains, New York, attending Stissing Mountain J/S High School, where she was an honors student and an athlete, graduating in 2001.[2]

Kent was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2016 and was successfully cured following surgery.[5]

Her husband, Joe Kent, served 20 years in the U.S. Special Forces.[1] They lived in Crownsville, Maryland with their two young sons, who were aged 3 years and 18 months in January 2019.[1] Kent was 35 years old at the time of her death.[1]

Navy service

Kent enlisted in the Navy on December 11, 2003, and graduated from boot camp at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, in February 2004.[6] She was assigned to Navy Information Operations Command, Fort Gordon, Georgia; Navy Special Warfare Support Activity 2, Norfolk, Virginia; Personnel Resource Development Office, Washington, D.C.; Navy Information Operations Command Maryland, Fort Meade; and Cryptologic Warfare Group 6, Fort Meade.[6] She was the noncommissioned officer in charge at the National Security Agency’s operations directorate for four years.[1] Kent reported to Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66 (CWA-66) at Fort Meade after the command was established on August 10, 2018.[6] Kent was considered a ‘rock star’ among the linguists.[6][7] She was fluent in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic, and rose quickly through the ranks as a cryptologist at Fort Meade.[1][8]

In 2007, Kent was deployed to Iraq on an intelligence team supporting Navy SEALs.[9] In 2008, she underwent training for a permanent position on a SEAL support team, and she was deployed to Afghanistan to support a SEAL team in 2012.[9]

In February 2018, Kent received clearance to attend the Navy's doctorate psychology program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, but the Navy reversed the move because her previous cancer diagnosis made her medically unfit to be commissioned as an officer.[1][5][9] She applied for a waiver and sought congressional help, but the Navy maintained its decision.[9] Kent was deployed to Syria in November 2018.[5]

On January 16, 2019, Kent was part of a group that attended a meeting with local military officials and stopped at a local restaurant frequented by U.S. personnel, the Palace of the Princes in Manbij, Syria, when a man in a suicide vest walked by outside and detonated his device.[10][11] The area was in a northern Syria buffer zone between Kurdish fighters and Turkish forces that had been regarded as a stable area.[11] Kent was killed along with three other Americans who were in Syria as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.[7][10][12]

Kent was the first female combat death in Syria since combat operations began against ISIS in Syria, and the first female U.S. service member killed by enemy fire in more than three years.[1][7] The 2019 Manbij bombing killed a total of 19 people, including Kent, a Green Beret, two U.S. civilian contractors, allied coalition fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and a number of civilians.[5][7][10][13] The three other Americans casualties were: Scott A. Wirtz, a former SEAL, Army Chief Warrant Officer; Jonathan R. Farmer, a former Green Beret and military contractor; and Ghadir Taher, a translator with Valiant Integrated Service, a U.S. Department of Defense contractor.[7] Additionally, three Americans were wounded in the attack.[7] The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility.[12]

Medals and commendations

A decorated servicewoman, Chief Kent received the Joint Service Commendation Medal twice, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, a Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Sea Deployment Ribbon, the Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon, and the Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.[6]

U.S. President Donald Trump paid tribute to her and 3 other fallen Americans during a trip to Dover Air Force Base in the US state of Delaware on 19 January, where their remains were received.[14] She was buried in Arlington National Cemetery In Maryland, Virginia.[15]

She was posthumously promoted to senior chief petty officer and awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and a Combat Action Ribbon.[6] The Navy also credited her for work done for the NSA's Operations Directorate in Special Operations.[1] Though not an officer, her work was used at the highest levels of SIGINT in deciphering the intelligence gleaned through message intercepts and foreign communications.[1] After Kent's death, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ordered state flags flown at half-staff and Dutchess County state legislature Chair Gregg Pulver issued a statement praising her as a “Brilliant mind and a small-town hero.”[2] On February 14, 2019, Congressman Antonio Delgado introduced a resolution in the United States House of Representatives honoring the life of Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent.[16]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Oppel Jr., Richard A. (February 8, 2019). "Her Title: Cryptologic Technician. Her Occupation: Warrior.". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/08/us/shannon-kent-military-spy.html. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Santistevan, Ryan (January 18, 2019). "Dutchess sailor killed in Syria caring, accomplished". Poughkeepsie Journal. https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2019/01/18/dutchess-navy-sailor-killed-syria-remembered-pine-plains-community/2613691002/. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Shannon Kent, daughter of top NY State Police officer, among three American victims identified in ISIS suicide bombing". New York Daily News. January 18, 2019. https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-news-syria-americans-confirmed-20190118-story.html. 
  4. Carola, Chris (January 18, 2019). "Sailor killed in bombing leaves behind a husband and two children". Navy Times. https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2019/01/19/sailor-killed-in-bombing-leaves-behind-a-husband-and-two-children/. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Grisales, Claudia (February 8, 2019). "Navy linguist killed in Syria posthumously promoted". Stars and Stripes. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/navy-linguist-killed-in-syria-posthumously-promoted-1.567989. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 "Memorial service held at Naval Academy for Fort Meade sailor killed in Syria". Capital Gazette. February 8, 2019. https://www.capitalgazette.com/news/annapolis/ac-cn-memorial-service-0209-story.html. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "Americans slain in Syria attack: A Green Beret, a former SEAL and two language specialists". The Washington Post. January 18, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pentagon-identifies-three-of-the-four-americans-killed-in-syria-suicide-bombing/2019/01/18/5c9f31b8-1b1e-11e9-88fe-f9f77a3bcb6c_story.html. 
  8. https://www.stripes.com/family-of-fallen-navy-linguist-fights-regulation-that-forced-her-deployment-to-syria-1.566601
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Ryan, Missy (March 22, 2019). "War Torn". The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2019/03/22/feature/navy-cryptologist-shannon-kent-who-died-in-an-isis-suicide-attack-in-syria-was-torn-between-family-and-duty/. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "At Least Four Americans Killed in Syria Attack Claimed by Islamic State". Wall Street Journal. January 16, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/at-least-three-u-s-troops-killed-in-ISIS-claimed-attack-in-Syria-11547651818. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "A Favorite Restaurant in Syria Led ISIS to Americans". The New York Times. January 17, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/world/middleeast/syria-bombing-manbij-attack.html. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Bacon, John (16 January 2019). "Suicide bomber kills four U.S. citizens in Syrian blast; ISIS claims responsibility". USAToday. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/01/16/syria-explosion-us-soldiers-killed-explosion-manjib/2591639002/. 
  13. Zachary Cohen, Veronica Stracqualursi and Kevin Liptak (2019-01-17). "US service members killed in ISIS-claimed attack in Syria". https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/16/politics/syria-attack-us-patrolled-city/index.html. 
  14. "Trump Pays Tribute to Americans Killed in Syria Attack". 19 January 2019. https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1552881/trump-pays-tribute-americans-killed-syria-attack. 
  15. https://www.capitalgazette.com/news/ac-cn-shannon-kent-0227-story.html
  16. Delgado, Antonio (February 14, 2019). "H.Res.134 - Honoring the life of Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent.". Library of Congress. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/134/text. 

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