On Thursday, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency/chief, Central Security Service, paid a special tribute to Navy Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent at a memorial wall service and unveiling held at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
“Senior Chief Kent, and all those honored on this wall, reminds us of the seriousness of our mission…the defense of our Nation,” said Nakasone. “Inscribed with the words, ‘They Served in Silence,’ this wall is a constant reminder of the ultimate price paid for our freedom by the 177 men and women of our Enterprise, whose courage, patriotism, and dedication to mission we memorialize here.”
Kent gave her life; “Serving in silence,” in the line of duty while supporting Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria Jan. 16.
Approximately 80 guests, including military leaders and Kent’s family members, attended the service and unveiling of Kent’s name embossed on the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall.
Kent, an Arabic linguist with Fort Meade’s Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66, was killed during a suicide bombing in the Syrian town of Manbij on 16 Jan 2019. Four Americans and more than a dozen others were killed during the attack.
Kent was the first female U.S. service member killed in Syria since the U.S.-led coalition’s campaign against Islamic State began there in late 2014.
Kent is one of only three women listed on the wall at NSA that honors military and civilian cryptologists who were killed in the line of duty since WWII – “serving in silence” and making the ultimate sacrifice. Kent was performing intelligence work as part of a larger effort to track ISIS remnants. Her death has brought more attention to the role played by women like her who support elite outfits.
“The Navy Information Warfare Community suffered a tremendous loss when Senior Chief Kent was killed in Manbij, Syria, earlier this year,” said Vice Adm. Timothy “T.J.” White, Commander, U.S. Navy Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet. “She was a valued leader in the Navy. Her strength, courage, and confidence were extraordinary. While not replaceable, a singular feature of Senior Chief Kent’s professionalism was her passion to train the future of Navy Cryptology. She has trained a whole generation of cryptologist’s that will continue to proudly stand the watch. We are blessed that such warriors answer the call to military service at the highest levels of professionalism and capability.”
Kent was posthumously promoted to Senior Chief Petty Officer during a memorial service Feb. 8 at the U.S. Naval Academy. She was also awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and a Combat Action Ribbon.
The Story of a Cryptologic Hero CTICS Shannon M. Kent profile can be viewed here.
Additional information on the Memorial Wall and a special historical monograph highlighting Kent’s service and sacrifice can be viewed on the NSA/CSS website here.
The wall, dedicated in 1996, now lists the names of 177 Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and civilian cryptologist’s who have made the ultimate sacrifice, “serving in silence,” in the performance of their duties since World War II.
The wall dedicated in 1996 lists 177 names of Army Navy Air Force Marine and civilian cryptologist’s who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The black granite memorial stands eight feet tall by 12 feet wide with the words ‘THEY SERVED IN SILENCE’ etched into the polished stone at the cap of a triangle.
The NSA seal is carved below followed by the names of those cryptologist’s who have given their lives in service to their country. The names are at the base of the triangle because these cryptologist’s and their ideals – dedication to mission dedication to workmate and dedication to country – form the foundation for cryptologic service. The structure was designed by an NSA employee and the memorial is housed in the NSA headquarters complex.
On Memorial Day 2001, NSA began a tradition of declassifying and sharing the stories behind the names on the wall and that can be found here.
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