PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — A soldier from Palm Beach County was identified as one of the
four Americans killed earlier this week in an explosion in Syria, the Department of Defense said Friday.
According to the DOD, Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, was among those killed Wednesday in Manbij, Syria, from a suicide improvised explosive device.
The DOD said Farmer was from Boynton Beach, but a family friend said he was raised in Palm Beach Gardens.
Upon learning the news The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach tweeted:
The Benjamin School said Farmer graduated in 1999 and played on the school's basketball team. The school sent WPTV photos of him as a student.
The American flag was flying at half-staff Friday on the The Benjamin School campus honoring the hometown hero.
“It was like a kick in the stomach, I just at first couldn’t wrap my head around it,” said Coach Ron Ream, who has been at the school for 44 years.
Ream remembers Farmer who graduated in 1999. He was a basketball and baseball star, but ultimately decided to serve his country.
“Jon never met someone that he wasn’t a friend with, you were immediately drawn to Jon because of his kindness and compassion,” Ream said.
Twenty years after graduating high school, Farmer is remembered as a true warrior at the Benjamin School with a big hear and a commitment to service.
“Let’s remember Jon as the young man that he was a friend to everyone, a kind person and a person you just wanted to gravitate to and be around,” Ream said.
According to the military, Farmer is survived by his spouse, four children and his parents.
Farmer's military accomplishments included: Served twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in October 2007 and January 2009; once in support of Operation New Dawn in August 2010; once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from January 2012; and twice in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in January 2018 and January 2019 until his passing. Awards and decorations included the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with “C” Device, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon with one campaign star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO medal, Special Forces Tab, Parachutist Badge, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Farmer’s military education includes One Station Unit Training, the Basic Airborne Course, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape Course, Special Forces Qualification Course, the Advanced Special Operations Technical Course, the Advanced Leader’s Course, Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidate School, the Special Forces Warrant Officer Basic Course, and the Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course.
Two of the other deceased military members were identified as: Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of upstate New York. Kent was assigned to Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66, based at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. DOD civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri. Wirtz was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as an operations support specialist. Wirtz, a former US Navy SEAL, was an intelligence expert in Syria with the troops hoping to collect information about security and adversaries in the area.
All three died "as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device," according to the military.
The fourth American killed in Syria was a contractor supporting the Defense Department, according to a Pentagon spokesman. The Pentagon will not release his name since he was not military.
The bombing is still under investigation.
CNN reported Thursday that the US initial assessment is that ISIS is responsible for the bombing.
The explosion in the northern city of Manbij Wednesday killed the four Americans and at least 10 other people. Eight civilians and two fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in the blast, a senior commander from the Manbij military council told CNN.
The US-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve said Wednesday that the service members were "conducting a routine patrol" at the time of the explosion. Three other US service members were injured in the attack.
The attack came less than a month after President Donald Trump announced that US troops would withdraw from Syria.
Portions of this article courtesy of The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.