The Department of Defense has identified the first American war-zone casualties of 2019.
According to a statement, a suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device which killed the three military service members. A government contractor later reported a fourth victim had died to injuries she received in the attack.
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.
According to a report from the Washington Examiner, the three military members were: Army Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Farmer, who is from Florida; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent, who is from New York; and, DOD civilian Scott Wirtz, who is from Missouri and served as an operations support specialist. Ghadir Taher, an interpreter under contract to assist the US military, was also killed in the attack.
CNN reports Farmer “served on six overseas combat tours, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the US Army Special Operations Command said.”
And: “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.”
And, on Kent, via CNN:
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.
Wirtz, per the report, served in the United States military for more than ten years and initially enlisted in the Navy in 1997. He later joined the U.S. Navy SEALs and retired in 2005.
“After some years away from the military, Wirtz began working with the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2017 as an operations support specialist, DIA said,” CNN reports.
“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,” DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr. said about Wirtz.
The Defense Intelligence Agency reported: “His military awards and decorations include the SEAL Insignia, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon and Pistol Expert Medal. His DIA awards include the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism.”
And, from AJC:
Tri-Cities High School graduate Ghadir Taher, 27, who immigrated with her family to America from Syria, died from injuries she sustained in the blast, her younger brother, Ali, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday.
“Her smile lit up the room. She was kind,” Ali Taher said, his voice edged with emotion. “You could go on for hours, talking to her about your worries and about your troubles. And she would make them seem like they were hers.”
The family, he said, learned about her death Wednesday from her employer, Valiant Integrated Services, a defense contractor.
President Trump said the deaths marked “a very sad occasion.” He also said he would be visiting with the families of the victims.