WASHINGTON, February 1, 2017 — President Donald Trump made a surprise trip to Dover Air Force Base, to pay his respects to the remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during a weekend raid in Yemen. This marks his first trip as Commander-in-Chief.
Trump arrived at Dover Air Force Base via Marine One, accompanied by daughter Ivanka Trump Kushner and Senator Chris Coons. President Trump paid his respects to Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, a member of U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six, and was killed during a weekend raid that targeted a group of senior al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen.
Trump called the ceremony “very sad” and “very beautiful.” Trump attended a private ceremony with the Owens’ family, which was closed to the press. President Obama lifted a ban on media coverage of the transfers, though families may request privacy. President Trump released a statement following the death of Owens.
“Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind, are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world.”
The raid which cost the life of Owens was organized by the Obama White House but approved by President Trump, signaling an escalation against terror groups in Yemen. The raid also resulted in the death of the 8-year-old daughter of former al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, a US citizen who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.
During the beginning stages of his campaign, Trump said he would be willing to “take out” families of terrorists in order to root out extremism. Trump has been vocal about defeating ISIS and has given the Pentagon 30 days to submit a plan for defeating the terror group. Trump has not said how he will handle Afghanistan.
The White House had originally written up the operation as a “successful raid” but Press Secretary Spicer toned down the administration’s characterization because of the loss of life and casualties.