- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 1, 2017

President Trump traveled Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base for the arrival of the remains of a U.S. commando killed in a weekend raid in Yemen, the first military casualty since Mr. Trump became commander in chief.

The Pentagon identified the deceased as Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois.

A member of SEAL Team 6, CPO Owens was killed during a daring predawn raid Sunday on an al Qaeda redoubt in southeastern Yemen, even as U.S. officials were rejecting critical media reports that parts of the mission had gone awry.

Mr. Trump previously spoke with CPO Owens’ widow, said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

She told the president that her husband died “doing what he loved,” Mr. Spicer said, noting that CPO Owens redeployed 12 times.

The president flew to Dover aboard Marine One. He was accompanied by daughter Ivanka Trump and Sen. Christopher A. Coons, Delaware Democrat.

SEE ALSO: William Ryan Owens identified as SEAL victim as questions surround Yemen mission

Stressing that the White House would never characterize a military mission as 100 percent successful when U.S. lives are lost, Mr. Spicer said that raid netted valuable intelligence about al Qaeda plans and killed 14 terrorists.

“What he did for this nation and what we got out of the mission I believe will save lives,” Mr. Spicer said.

The trip was not announced in advance, and pool reporters were allowed to accompany Mr. Trump only on the condition that it not be reported until finished. No photos were released. The Owens family had requested that the ceremony be private, officials said.

Mr. Trump mentioned the ceremony Wednesday evening at the swearing-in of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“Just returned from an amazing visit with a great, great family at Dover, and it was something — very sad, very beautiful. Ryan, a great man,” he said.

CPO Owens is believed to be the first U.S. military fatality since Mr. Trump took office Jan. 20.

Six other U.S. special operations members were injured during the mission.

Three U.S. commandos were shot in an unexpected firefight at the site, and three more were wounded in the “hard landing” of a Marine Corps MV-22 helicopter that had to be destroyed.

CPO Owens “gave his full measure for our nation, and in performing his duty, he upheld the noblest standard of military service,” Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said in a statement this week.

The Yemen mission was the first known counterterrorism operation carried out under the Trump administration, although planning began under President Obama. Mr. Mattis reportedly left midway through the traditional Alfalfa Dinner in downtown Washington on Saturday evening to monitor the unfolding attack.

“It is something that had been in the works for a while,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said. “But there were operational reasons it happened when it did.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

• Carlo Muñoz can be reached at cmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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