Dutchess sailor killed in Syria caring, accomplished
Ryan Santistevan Poughkeepsie Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
A Navy sailor from Pine Plains is being remembered as intelligent, caring and accomplished.
Shannon M. Kent, a 35-year-old chief cryptologic technician, was one of four Americans killed after a suicide bomber triggered a fiery explosion Wednesday in northern Syria, according to officials.
Her death elicited an outpouring of support on social media, some of whom remembered the woman who graduated from Stissing Mountain High School in 2001. Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver said he knew Kent from a young age and watched her grow into a strong individual. “I am not surprised she quickly rose through the ranks as a Navy cryptologist as she was a master of languages speaking seven fluently,” Pulver said. “Those of us who knew her personally will remember her brilliant mind, loving nature, and always hold her as our small-town hero. I pray that her family finds comfort and support during this difficult time.”
Kent, who went by her maiden name of Smith while at Stissing Mountain, was an honors student, an athlete and a good person, according to Principal Tara Grieb.
“We are proud of her and her service,” Grieb said. “We support her family 100 percent.”
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Shannon M. Kent
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Kent was assigned to the Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66 based at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland, according to a Navy press release.
The bombing incident is still under investigation, the Department of Defense said. Details were not available Friday regarding any services for Kent.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida and DOD civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri, were also identified as those killed in the bombing in Manbij, Syria, according to the Department of Defense. A fourth victim was not identified.
All three died “as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device,” according to the U.S. military.
A naval ‘rockstar’
Cmdr. Joseph Harrison, commanding officer of CWA 66, said Kent “was a rockstar, an outstanding chief petty officer, and leader to many in the Navy Information Warfare Community.” She enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 11, 2003 and graduated in February 2004 from boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Illinois, according to the Navy.
Kent’s military assignments include Navy Information Operations Command in Georgia, Navy Special Warfare Support Activity 2 in Virginia, Personnel Resource Development Office in Washington D.C., Navy Information Operations Command in Maryland and Cryptologic Warfare Group 6 in Maryland, according to the Navy.
Kent was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon and Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon, according to the Navy.
Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician Denise Vola, CWA 66 command senior enlisted leader, said in a statement that Kent’s drive, determination and tenacity were infectious.
“Although she has left us way too soon, she will not be forgotten, and her legacy will live on with us,” Vola said.
In praise of the chief
Several government leaders, both locally and nationally, offered condolences and praise for Kent on Friday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said flags are to be flown at half-staff on all state government buildings in honor of Kent until her funeral.
Kent “stepped up to serve her country and dedicated herself to a life of service, following in the footsteps of her father, Col. Stephen J. Smith of the state police,” Cuomo said. “We owe her our eternal gratitude for her selfless dedication and sacrifice. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said the community will remember Kent’s service to the nation.
“May her light shine on through her friends and loved ones,” Molinaro said. “And may her family find peace during this difficult time.”
Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck said Kent devoted her life to protecting the country and defending democracy.
“This is a terrible tragedy and heartbreaking loss,” Delgado said. “She provides an example to all of us with her dedication and sacrifice for our country, and her memory will live on because she defined what true service means. My thoughts and prayers are with her children, husband, and the rest of her family and friends at this difficult time.”
Ryan Santistevan: rsantistev@poughkeepsiejour nal.com, 845-437-4809, Twitter: @SantistevanRyan.