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Navy cryptologists urge service to name destroyer after Shannon Kent, the Navy cryptologist killed in Syria

A group of Navy cryptologists is urging the Navy to name a destroyer after Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon Kent, who was killed Jan. 16, 2019 in Syria.

Station HYPO, a blog dedicated to Navy cryptology, launched a campaign on Wednesday pressing readers to contact lawmakers and Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, and petition that a destroyer be named in honor of Kent.

“I greatly appreciate the efforts to name a US Navy Ship after Shannon by lawmakers, sailors and numerous supportive Americans,” Kent’s husband Joe, a retired Green Beret, said in a statement to Military Times.

“Shannon was killed in action on her 5th combat deployment with Special Operations serving at the tip of the spear hunting the enemy,” he said. “This makes her one of the most elite females to make the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation. Naming a destroyer after her would be very fitting of her fighting spirit.”

Kent first enlisted in the Navy in 2003, and served a total of four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan where she deployed with Navy SEAL Teams 10 and 4, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The cancer survivor and mother of two then deployed to Syria with a Special Operations unit in Nov. 2018 to support Operation Inherent Resolve, while assigned to Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66 based out of Fort George Meade in Maryland.

Kent, 35, was killed in a suicide bombing on Jan. 16, 2019 in Manbij, Syria — an attack the Islamic State took credit for and that took the lives of three other Americans as well. She was the first U.S. female service member killed in combat in operations against ISIS, and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for her service.

Operation Inherent Resolve first launched in 2014 to counter the jihadi group, and approximately 500-600 U.S. troops remain in Syria.

Navy cryptologists serve as linguistics experts, collect and analyze communications in foreign languages and translate language materials, among other things. Kent graduated from the Defense Language Institute with an Associate’s Degree in Arabic.

This isn’t the first attempt to name a Navy ship after Kent. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 asking the Navy to name a Navy vessel after her.

“Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent deserves to be honored in a manner befitting of her noble service to our country and enduring contributions to the United States Navy,” Schumer said on the Senate floor in June 2019.

“Her courageous efforts and groundbreaking achievements have inspired numerous programs for integrating women into Special Operations Forces, with combat jobs and special operations training now open to female service members,” Schumer said. “Senior Chief Kent was living proof that women could not only keep up with, but lead, our nation’s most highly-trained and capable service members.”

Schumer noted that only five of the nearly 300 active duty ships in the Navy bear the name of a woman. Additionally, only one out of the 53 ships under construction is named after a woman, he added.

“It is time to address this disparity and recognize the integral role that female service members play in protecting our great nation,” Schumer said.

Ultimately, Schumer’s amendment was dropped during negotiations with the House and did not make it into the final NDAA for fiscal year 2020. Schumer’s office told Military Times he plans to reintroduce the measure this year and will “seek every available opportunity to move forward legislatively and with the Navy directly.”

Destroyers the Navy has recently procured or are currently procuring are being named after deceased service members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and deceased secretaries of the Navy, according to a Congressional Research Service report released Jan. 21. The secretary of the Navy has the authority to select names for ships.

The Navy did not respond to a request for comment from Military Times.

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