Bowdoin College president posts letter on graduate killed in Syria

37-year-old Jonathan R. Farmer graduated from the liberal arts college in 2003.

Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College –Tom Nangle

On Friday, the Pentagon identified three of the four Americans killed in this week’s attack in Syria, including Army Chief Warrant Officer and Bowdoin College graduate Jonathan R. Farmer. Bowdoin’s president, Clayton Rose, posted a letter addressing Farmer’s passing.

You can read the letter in full below:

To the Bowdoin community,

Today we learned the tragic news that our graduate Jonathan R. Farmer ’03 was among nineteen people—including four Americans—who were killed Wednesday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest inside a restaurant in the Syrian city of Manbij.

Jon, who was thirty-seven at the time of his death, was a US Army Green Beret from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who had attained the rank of Army Chief Warrant Officer 2. He joined the Army on March 30, 2005, and graduated in 2007 from the Special Forces Qualification Course as an engineer sergeant. Selected to attend the Special Forces Warrant Officer Candidate School, Jon earned his commission in 2016. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and served on ten overseas tours, including six combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, most recently in Syria.

Jon received numerous awards and decorations during his time in the military, including the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, and the Army Commendation Medal.

Born in Boynton Beach, Florida, 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. His teammate, roommate, and close friend, Michael Harding ’03, remembered Jon today as a “loyal and selfless friend.” Men’s basketball coach Tim Gilbride said Jon was “…a great teammate and competitor” and “a quality person—someone we all enjoyed being around.” In May 2004, Jon was awarded the William J. Fraser Trophy given to the player “who best exemplifies the spirit of Bowdoin basketball.”

Jon is survived by his wife, their 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. 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.

Sincerely,

Clayton

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