Trump honors fallen Navy SEAL


By Julie Pace - AP White House Correspondent



Owens


Navy SEAL remembered as hero

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — A decorated U.S. Navy SEAL from Illinois who was killed during a raid against al-Qaida in Yemen is being remembered as a hero by elected officials and those who knew him as a high school student.

A friend from Illinois Valley Central High School, Cody Jackson, said Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens was doing exactly what he wanted with his life when the 36-year-old Peoria man was killed in a firefight in a raid that left 30 others dead, including an estimated 14 militants. Owens was the first known U.S. military combat casualty since President Donald Trump took office.

“Since he was a freshman in high school, this kid decided he wanted to protect his country (and) he never once wavered from that,” Jackson told the (Peoria) Journal Star. “Not everyone knows what they want to do in high school, but he did. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL.”

In a statement, the command said that the family “would like to extend their gratitude to the community for their interest in their beloved Ryan,” whom the statement called a “devoted father, a true professional and a wonderful husband.” The statement said that the family was requesting privacy.

Owens was “an exceptional SEAL — an experienced warrior and highly respected teammate who served silently, nobly and bravely though several combat deployments,” Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, commander of Navy Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California, said in a statement.

Owens joined the Navy just after graduating from high school and went on to earn two bronze stars, Joint Service Commendation and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Trump, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and others praised Owens for his sacrifice.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, a Republican from Peoria, said Owens’ death “is a painful reminder of the immeasurable cost of our freedom and national security.”

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from of East Moline, said Owens death is a “tragic loss” and “our nation owes him and his family our deep heartfelt gratitude.”

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AP) — Assuming the somber duties of commander in chief, President Donald Trump made an unannounced trip Feb. 1 to honor the returning remains of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in a weekend raid in Yemen.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, a 36-year-old from Peoria, Illinois, was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Trump took office less than two weeks ago. An 8-year-old American girl was among 30 others killed in the operation on an al-Qaida compound, and three other U.S. service members were wounded.

Trump’s trip to Delaware’s Dover Air Base was shrouded in secrecy. The president and his daughter, Ivanka, departed the White House in the presidential helicopter with their destination unannounced. A small group of journalists traveled with Trump on the condition that the visit was not reported until his arrival.

Marine One landed at Dover shortly before a C-17 believed to be carrying Owens’ remains touched down. The president was expected to meet with Owens’ family, which requested that the visit and the dignified transfer of the Navy SEAL’s remains be private.

Former President Barack Obama lifted a ban on media coverage of the dignified transfers, though families may still request privacy. A spokeswoman at Dover said about half of families choose to allow media coverage.

Owens joined the Navy in 1998 and was the recipient of two Bronze stars, a Joint Service Commendation and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, among other honors. In a statement following his death, the Navy Special Command called Owens a “devoted father, a true professional and a wonderful husband.”

His death underscores the human costs of the military campaigns Trump now oversees. Far fewer troops are serving in combat now than in the wars Trump’s predecessors led in Afghanistan and Iraq, but thousands of Americans remain in hot-spots around the world.

In Afghanistan, where America’s longest war continues, about 8,400 U.S. troops are training and advising local forces. More than U.S. 5,100 troops in Iraq and about 500 in Syria are involved in the campaign against the Islamic State group. The U.S. also engages in counter-terrorism operations — mainly drone strikes — in Yemen, where Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has exploited the chaos of the country’s civil war.

Sunday’s predawn raid — which a defense official said was planned by the Obama administration but authorized by Trump — could signal a new escalation against extremist groups in Yemen. More than half a dozen militant suspects were among those killed. The operation also took the life of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric and U.S. citizen who was targeted and killed by a drone strike in 2011.

As a candidate, Trump said he would be willing to “take out” the families of terrorists in order to root out extremism. On Tuesday (Jan. 31), White House spokesman Sean Spicer said no Americans “will ever be targeted” in raids against terror suspects.

The president’s trip to Dover comes as he begins weighing whether to reshape U.S. military activities around the world. As a candidate, he vowed to be tougher on the Islamic State and at one point said he would be willing to send up to 30,000 U.S. troops to fight the extremist group in Iraq and Syria. Last week, Trump gave the Pentagon and other agencies 30 days to submit a plan for defeating the Islamic State.

Trump has said little about his approach to Afghanistan. Obama had pledged to end the war there on his watch, but continuing security concerns prompted him to extend the U.S. military campaign, handing the war off to a third American president.

Trump, who never served in the armed forces and received student and medical deferments during the Vietnam War, had an uneven relationship with the military community during the presidential campaign.

About 60 percent of voters who served in the military supported Trump in the presidential election, compared with 34 percent who voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to exit polls. But Trump was also criticized by military groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for his feud with the Khan family, whose Muslim-American son was killed while serving in Iraq.

Owens
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2017/02/web1_seal-owens.jpgOwens

By Julie Pace

AP White House Correspondent

Navy SEAL remembered as hero

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — A decorated U.S. Navy SEAL from Illinois who was killed during a raid against al-Qaida in Yemen is being remembered as a hero by elected officials and those who knew him as a high school student.

A friend from Illinois Valley Central High School, Cody Jackson, said Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens was doing exactly what he wanted with his life when the 36-year-old Peoria man was killed in a firefight in a raid that left 30 others dead, including an estimated 14 militants. Owens was the first known U.S. military combat casualty since President Donald Trump took office.

“Since he was a freshman in high school, this kid decided he wanted to protect his country (and) he never once wavered from that,” Jackson told the (Peoria) Journal Star. “Not everyone knows what they want to do in high school, but he did. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL.”

In a statement, the command said that the family “would like to extend their gratitude to the community for their interest in their beloved Ryan,” whom the statement called a “devoted father, a true professional and a wonderful husband.” The statement said that the family was requesting privacy.

Owens was “an exceptional SEAL — an experienced warrior and highly respected teammate who served silently, nobly and bravely though several combat deployments,” Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, commander of Navy Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California, said in a statement.

Owens joined the Navy just after graduating from high school and went on to earn two bronze stars, Joint Service Commendation and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Trump, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and others praised Owens for his sacrifice.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, a Republican from Peoria, said Owens’ death “is a painful reminder of the immeasurable cost of our freedom and national security.”

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from of East Moline, said Owens death is a “tragic loss” and “our nation owes him and his family our deep heartfelt gratitude.”

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor and AP Polling Director Emily Swanson contributed to this report. Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor and AP Polling Director Emily Swanson contributed to this report. Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC