Four Americans — an interpreter, an Army chief warrant officer, a Navy chief cryptologic technician and a Defense Department civilian — died in the suicide bombing in Syria this week.
The blast, believed to have been carried out by ISIS, occurred in the northern city of Manbij on Wednesday and left a total of 14 people dead.
Service members were “conducting a routine patrol” at the time of the explosion, the US-led coaltion Operation Inherent Resolve said.
The Pentagon identified three of those killed, while a government contractor identified the fourth American victim.
The blast, 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 are:
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 served 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 include 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.
She enlisted in the Navy in 2003. Her awards include the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal, according to the US Fleet Cyber Command/US Tenth 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 CWA 66 Command Senior Enlisted Leader, Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collections) Denise Vola.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Kent had followed 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,” he 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 from Syria following the footsteps of their parents. 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 work hard. She held multiple jobs at some point and even started her own business to work consistently.
“She loved what she did. She was very passionate,” Ali Taher 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 been working for Valiant Integrated Services for a little less than a year before her death, her brother said.
In a statement, a spokesman for Valiant, 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 US Navy SEAL until 2005.
His awards include the SEAL Insignia, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism.
After some years away from the military, Wirtz began working with the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2017 as an operations support specialist, DIA said.
He was collaborating with troops in Syria hoping to collect information about security and adversaries in the area. He had completed three deployments for the agency in the Middle East, DIA said.
Wirtz’s mother, Sandy Wirtz, 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 to her texts, 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.”
Wirtz had spent Christmas with his parents in Missouri before traveling back to Syria before New Year’s Eve.
In a statement about Wirtz’s death, DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr. described him 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. As President Lincoln described on the fields at Gettysburg, this officer gave the last full measure of devotion.”