President Donald Trump assumed his first somber duty as commander in chief Wednesday when he made a secret trip to Delaware to await the return of the remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed over the weekend.
The trip was unannounced. Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, departed the White House suddenly and were seen on camera boarding Marine One to an unknown destination. A small group of reporters were able to travel with the duo on the condition that the visit was not reported until his arrival, The Associated Press reported.
Pres. Trump and Ivanka Trump board Marine One for trip to Dover Air Force Base for arrival of remains of Navy SEAL killed in raid in Yemen. pic.twitter.com/sO5UiEwSTL
— ABC News (@ABC) February 1, 2017
The fallen Navy SEAL, 36-year-old Chief Special Warfare Operation William “Ryan” Owens, is the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump took office. He was killed in during a raid in Yemen on an al-Qaeda compound.
Trump approved the operation, which had been in the planning stages for months under former President Barack Obama. Three senior al Qaeda leaders were among those killed in a raid, sources in Yemen told CNN.
The casualties may have included the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-Yemini militant. Three other U.S. service members wounded.
Marine One landed at Dover Air Force Base shortly before a C-17 military plane carrying Owens’ remains. Trump met with Owens’ family, who requested that the visit be private, as well as the dignified transfer of his remains.
President Trump went to Dover AFB on Marine One, along with his daughter, Ivanka, and Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware https://t.co/7uj37ArOcM pic.twitter.com/h5tQ0xVPi9
— CNN (@CNN) February 1, 2017
During his presidency, lifted a ban of media coverage of dignified transfers, but families can still request privacy.
Trump later described the ceremony as “very sad” and “very beautiful.”
Owens began his Naval career in 1998 and received two Bronze stars during his service, a Joint Service Commendation and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
The Navy Special Command described him as a “devoted father, a true professional and a wonderful husband.”