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Shannon Kent in Afghanistan, 2010. Courtesy, Joe Kent.

‘Send Me’: A Fitting Love Letter to Shannon Kent, Elite Warfighter Killed by Suicide Bomber

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BOOK REVIEW by Susan Katz Keating

When Marty Skovlund Jr. told me a while back that he was working on a book about Navy cryptology tech Shannon Kent, I made a note to myself to look for the book when it was published. Within the special operations community, Shannon’s name was legend. Known by colleagues as both brilliant and dedicated, Shannon secretly hunted for terrorists until one of them killed her and three others in Syria, in the 2019 Manbij bombing.

Marty told me he was writing the book along with Shannon’s husband, Special Forces veteran Joe Kent, and he wanted to do right by Shannon. The result – Send Me: The True Story of a Mother at War – does that and more, opening a window into this remarkable woman’s life, and to a little-seen element of the special operations world.

At core, Send Me is many things: a husband’s love letter to his wife; a veteran’s homage to a fellow warfighter; and a journalist’s deep dive into the life of a mother who fought for her country while raising a family and conquering cancer.

Shannon officially was a Navy cryptologic technician, responsible for signals intelligence and electronic warfare, but her ability with languages was among the gifts that made her a particularly valued member of special operations. 

She worked in secret “down range,” hunting some of the most wanted terrorists in the world. Among them was ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

This book easily could have been an action blow-by-blow, which in places it is. But husband Joe and journalist / veteran Marty – a former Army Ranger and now the editor-in-chief of Task & Purpose – show a broader picture. Together, they portray the woman who was the warrior. With scenes from Shannon’s childhood and adult home life, the coauthors show her as a mother, wife, and friend; tough yet gentle, with a sharp mind and a creative nature.

She walked a multi-faceted path. While aiming toward a next-step career as a psychologist wanting to help other warriors, Shannon joined a secret task force to hunt down the most dangerous terrorists. In that capacity, she was at the “tip of the spear,” where she embodied the ethos of the Bible’s Isaiah 6:8, “Send me.”

One reader called her “one of the greatest heroes you never heard of.” 

I did not know Shannon, but this book makes me wish that I had. On the pages of Send Me, she is smart, spunky, courageous, and fun – the person you want for your best friend, and also the one you trust will keep you and the country in good hands. She gave her life doing that.

May she rest in peace, and her legacy be an inspiration.

Susan Katz Keating is the publisher and editor in chief of Soldier of Fortune.

About Susan Katz Keating

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