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Defense Language Institute Honors Alumna Killed In Syria

A Defense Language Institute alumna will forever be remembered after she lost her life serving in Syria earlier this year. 

On the campus of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, there are places named after alumni who have died in the line of service.  A new spot was added during a ceremony Wednesday to honor Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent. 

Soon after she enlisted in the Navy, Kent studied Modern Standard Arabic at the DLI in 2004.  She was later deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. It was in Syria on January 16th of this year that she was killed by a suicide bomber in the city of Manbij. 

Senior Chief Petty Officer David Jennings stands at the center of the yard now named in her honor..

“We dedicated this entire complex on the Navy we’ll call this a yard. So it's the parade deck where we do our morning formations and the building complex where everybody lives. The Navy Yard from this day forward will be known as the Kent Navy Yard in honor of Senior Chief Shannon Kent,” says Jennings

Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Welker knew Kent.  He says she’ll be remembered for more than just her work. He shares a story about how she wanted to become an officer, but couldn’t because of a prior cancer diagnosis.   

“And Shannon went right into it. She, as we say, she leaned in on the Navy to a very high level she went hard with it and demanded that they change the policy because it was completely unfair,” says Walker.

So she lobbied Congress and since her death the Navy has changed its rules.

Kent was 35 years old and is survived by her husband and two young sons.

From 2019 to 2021 Michelle Loxton worked at KAZU as an All Things Considered host and reporter. During that time she reported on a variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic and local elections. Loxton was part of the news team that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for the continued coverage of the four major wildfires that engulfed California’s Central Coast in 2020.