Born to Stephen and Mary Smith in Oswego, New York, on May 11, Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent grew up in the small Hudson Valley town of Pine Plains, where she graduated as an honor student from Stissing Mountain Junior/Senior High School.
Early on Shannon had insatiable curiosity for other cultures which led her to immerse herself in and fully embrace new languages. As a teen she learned Spanish and in high school she learned French in a few short months. This was a gift that would serve her well. In 2001, Shannon started as a freshman at State University of New York at Plattsburgh where she studied communications and mass media.
Fueled by the 9/11 attacks, on December 11, 2003, Shannon enlisted in the U. S. Navy. Following boot camp she received Arabic language training from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and graduated in 2005 as a Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive).
Over 15 years of service, Shannon’s military assignments included in Georgia, Virginia, and Washington D.C. and she deployed eight times to various war zones. Her last permanent change of station before deploying to Syria was Cryptologic Warfare Activity-Sixty Six in Fort Meade, Maryland. In addition to her military accomplishments, Shannon applied for and was accepted into a PhD Psychologist program with the goal of becoming a commissioned officer to help those who suffer from post-traumatic Stress disorder.
Senior Chief Kent was authorized to wear the Enlisted Information Warfare Specialist (IW) and Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist (EXW) Pins along with the following awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corp Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal (2), National Defense Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal (3), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon (7), NATO Medal, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon and Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon.
On January 16, 2019 Senior Chief Kent was killed in Manbij, Syria along with three others, while supporting Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. Senior Chief Kent left behind a husband and two sons, an 18-month-old and 3-year-old.
CTICS (IW/EXW) Shannon Kent is the only female cryptologist to be killed in action in the history of naval cryptology. She is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.