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Former N.H. resident and Bowdoin College grad among four Americans killed in Syria terror blast

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer. Associated Press

A US Army Green Beret killed in Wednesday’s suicide bombing in Syria that claimed the lives of four Americans was a 2003 graduate of Bowdoin College in Maine who starred on the basketball team and lived previously in New Hampshire, the school confirmed Friday.

Clayton S. Rose, president of Bowdoin, discussed the tragic death of the alum, Jonathan R. Farmer, in a letter to the campus community.

“Jon, who was thirty-seven at the time of his death, was a US Army Green Beret from Palm Beach, Florida, who had attained the rank of Army Chief Warrant Officer 2,” Rose wrote. “He joined the Army on March 30, 2005, and graduated in 2007 from the Special Forces Qualification Course as an engineer sergeant.”


The Defense Department identified Farmer as an Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 assigned to Third Battalion, Fifth Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Fort Campbell, Ky.

Rose said Farmer was selected to attend the Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidate School and earned his commission in 2016. He also “served on ten overseas tours, including six combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, most recently in Syria,” Rose said.

RELATED: Pentagon identifies 3 of 4 Americans killed in Syria attack

Farmer was a decorated soldier, earning a Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, and the Army Commendation Medal, among many other awards and commendations, Rose wrote.

In addition, the president said, “Jon lived for a time in Laconia, New Hampshire, before returning as a teenager to Florida, where he attended the Benjamin School in Palm Beach. At Bowdoin, he was a history major and a forward and captain of the 2003-2004 men’s basketball team.”

Rose said Michael Harding, a Bowdoin classmate, teammate, and close friend of Farmer’s, remembered him Friday as a “loyal and selfless friend.” His former coach at Bowdoin, Tim Gilbride, described Farmer as “a great teammate and competitor” and “a quality person — someone we all enjoyed being around,” Rose wrote.


Farmer was awarded the William J. Fraser Trophy in May 2004, an honor bestowed on the player who best exemplifies the spirit of Bowdoin basketball, Rose said. Farmer leaves his wife, four young children, and his parents.

“Jon was part of a long and inspiring list of Bowdoin graduates and community members who served and are still serving the common good in the US military,” Rose wrote. “Sadly, he will now join those across the generations at our College who are memorialized on our campus and in our hearts for the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf.”

Farmer was among four Americans who lost their lives in the deadly blast in the Syrian city of Manbij. The attack killed or wounded at least 19 people, and the Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility.

The other victims killed in the blast included Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon M. Kent, 35, of New York and Scott A. Wirtz, a Defense Department civilian assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as an operations support specialist, the military said.

A fourth slain American, a contractor supporting the Defense Department, hasn’t been identified by the military.

The blast occurred after President Trump’s surprise announcement last month that the Islamic State had been defeated and troops would be coming home.

In a statement after the blast, the White House press secretary said, “[O]ur deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria. We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country.”


Material from the Washington Post was used in this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.