Shannon’s story is the story of freedom and love. Shannon relentlessly pursued her dreams thanks to the freedom we enjoy in this nation, her love for our nation and her family were what ultimately led her to give her last full measure for our nation.
Only in America would Shannon’s story be possible. Shannon’s independent nature was nurtured in rural upstate New York by her service oriented family as she grew up riding horses and dreaming about traveling abroad to learn foregin languages and cultures. Shannon’s curiosity about the world led her to immerse herself in Spanish and French as a high school student and to enroll in college to study international business.
All of this happened in a simpler time for our nation, before the attacks on September 11th 2001. When New York city was attacked Shannon’s family answered the call, her father and uncle were both first responders at ground zero. The 9/11 attacks served as a catalyst for a generation of warriors to answer their nation’s call, Shannon and her younger brother were amongst those willing to put their lives on the line as their father and uncle had on that tragic day. Shannon knew our nation was worth fighting for and assured the Navy recruiter that she could master the Arabic language to recruit allies and to find our enemies, but mostly so she could do her part for the nation she so loved.
Shannon’s passion for service led her to raise her hand and say “send me” each time a new challenge presented itself. Shannon’s work ethic, tallent and raw tenacity earned her multiple combat deployments to the most challenging places with the most elite units.
The fast paced world of Special Operations is where I was lucky enough to cross paths with Shannon. We instantly connected over our shared desire to serve our nation at the highest levels and built a family and a life together.
Our commitment to each other and our sons did not change the commitment we felt to our nation and our comrades in arms. Shannon supported me as I deployed several times to do my part in our nation’s wars. Nearly two years ago, just after Thanksgiving, Shannon deployed to Syria to do her part in the fight against ISIS. Shannon knew the risks but sought out a confrontation with evil because she understood if she didn’t go, someone else would have to and that did not sit right with her, she was always determined to do her part.
Shannon was killed by a suicide bomber alongside three other American heroes, Jon Farmer, Scott Wirtz and Ghadir Taher. All four killed that cold day in Manbij had dedicated their adult lives to the fight for freedom because they believed in this nation and were committed to our family of volunteer warriors. All four said “send me” when their nation called upon them and deployed to harm's way with love in their hearts for the freedoms we enjoy in our great nation.
To Shannon, Jon, Scott, Ghadir and all those willing to give up everything for freedom, thank you for all you gave for us.