Four Americans were killed in a suicide bombing this week in Syria. They were an interpreter, an Army chief warrant officer, a Navy chief cryptologic technician and a Defense Department civilian.
Wednesday’s blast, believed to have been carried out by ISIS, occurred in the northern city of Manbij and left 14 people dead, including the Americans.
Service members were “conducting a routine patrol” at the time of the explosion, the US-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve said.
The Pentagon identified three of those killed, while a government contractor named the fourth American victim.
The bombing, the result of a “suicide improvised explosive device,” also killed eight civilians and two fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a senior commander from the Manbij military council told CNN.
Three other US service members were injured in the attack.
The Americans killed were:
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, was from Boynton Beach, Florida. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
He joined the Army in 2005. Farmer served on six overseas combat tours, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the US Army Special Operations Command said.
He was in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007 and 2009, Operation New Dawn in 2010, Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012 and Operation Inherent Resolve in 2018 and 2019.
His awards included a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
Farmer is survived by his spouse, four children and his parents.
Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, was from upstate New York. She was a sailor assigned to Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66, based at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.
“She was a rock star, an outstanding chief petty officer and leader to many in the Navy Information Warfare Community,” said Cmdr. Joseph Harrison, commanding officer of CWA-66.
Kent graduated from Stissing Mountain Junior/Senior High School in Pine Plains, New York, in 2001. Principal Tara Grieb remembered her as “an honor student and a wonderful person.”
“Our district is extremely proud of her and her service and we support her family 100% in their time of sorrow,” Grieb said.
Kent enlisted in the Navy in 2003. Her awards included the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal, according to the US Fleet Cyber Command/US 10th Fleet.
“Chief 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,” said Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collections) Denise Vola, CWA 66’s command senior enlisted leader.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Kent had followed in the steps of her father, New York State Police Col. Stephen J. Smith, when she joined the military.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Ghadir Taher, 27, was in Syria working with the Army as an interpreter for defense contractor Valiant Integrated Services, her family said.
The interpreter from East Point, Georgia, and her brother moved to the United States in 2001. She graduated from Tri-Cities High School and attended Georgia State University for two years before getting an associate degree through an online school.
Her brother, Ali Taher, said she had a kind heart and was used to hard work. She held multiple jobs at one point and even started her own business.
“She loved what she did. She was very passionate,” he said of his sister’s work abroad. “She said it was hard, but she was good at it and very happy doing it.”
Taher had worked for Valiant Integrated Services for less than a year, her brother said.
In a statement, a Valiant spokesman described her as “a talented and highly respected colleague loved by many.”
Scott A. Wirtz dedicated more than a decade to serving his country.
The 42-year-old from St. Louis enlisted in the military in 1997 and served in the US Navy and as a Navy SEAL until 2005.
His awards included the SEAL Insignia, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism.
After some time away from the military, Wirtz began working with the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2017 as an operations support specialist, the agency said.
He was collaborating with troops in Syria to collect information about security and adversaries in the area. He had completed three deployments in the Middle East, it said.
Wirtz’s mother, Sandy, said her son would always talk about service with his dad, but when he wasn’t working, “He lived life to the fullest.”
When she heard about the attack, Sandy Wirtz quickly sent her son “Scottie” a text. He would usually respond immediately, she said. This time she received no response.
“At 3 p.m. that afternoon I sent another text and didn’t hear back. … I went to bed that night and didn’t think I’d be able to sleep,” she said. “At midnight we got the knock on the door. Call it a mother’s intuition, I knew it was about him.”
Scott Wirtz had spent Christmas with his parents in Missouri before traveling back to Syria before New Year’s Eve.
In a statement, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. described Wirtz as a patriot.
“This is a stark reminder of the dangerous missions we conduct for the nation and of the threats we work hard to mitigate,” Ashley said. “As President Lincoln described on the fields at Gettysburg, this officer gave the last full measure of devotion.”