On Tuesday night, President Trump honored slain Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, prompting long applause from the Congressional chamber for the military hero’s widow, Carryn Owens.
Here are 7 things you need to know about Chief Petty Officer Owens:
1. Owens died in a SEAL raid in Yemen on January 28.
Directly approved by President Trump, the raid targeted al-Qaeda elements in Yemen, but failed to eliminate senior terrorist leaders. Six US service members were wounded during the raid. At least 14 lower level al-Qaeda militants were neutralized. Another 25 “civilian noncombatants” were killed in collateral damage from US drone strikes, according to the Pentagon.
2. Trump called the raid “highly successful.”
The evidence suggests otherwise. In addition to death of a Navy SEAL and a high civilian body count, the US was forced to destroy a $75 million military aircraft after it crashed so that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of enemy combatants. According to unnamed senior officials who spoke to NBC News, the raid produced no “significant intelligence,” although Pentagon officials have gone on record claiming that the SEAL team gathered “actionable intelligence.”
3. Owens was a member of the famed SEAL Team Six.
As the US Navy component of Joint Special Operations Command, SEAL Team Six is the country’s most selective and elite counter-terrorism force, responsible for highly dangerous and complex foreign operations. Traveling in small units, SEAL Team Six is tasked with leaving a light footprint while carrying out covert operations with lethal precision. SEAL Team Six gained widespread notoriety after successfully killing Osama Bin Laden in Operation Neptune Spear.
4. Owens was a father who dreamed of joining the SEALs in high school.
Originally from Peoria, Illinois, Owens was just 36 years old when he died in January. He was a loving husband and father. In high school, he reportedly dreamed of serving his country dutifully and joining the SEALs.
5. Owens was “a recipient of two bronze stars, Joint Service Commendation and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal among others, joined the Navy in 1998 and received his special warfare training in Coronado, California,” according to TIME Magazine.
6. Owens’ father has harshly criticized President Trump.
In an interview with The Miami Herald, the SEALs’ father Bill Owens called for an investigation into what went wrong during the Yemen raid.
“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” he stated. “The government owes my son an investigation.”
The elder Owens also questioned Trump’s decision to green-light the seemingly botched raid.
"Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn't even barely a week into [President Trump's] administration?,” he said. "For two years prior ... everything was missiles and drones (in Yemen)...Now all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?"
When President Trump made his way to Dover Air Force Base to pay his respects to the returning body of Ryan Owens, Bill Owens refused to meet with the president. The SEALs’ widow met with Trump instead.
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” the elder Owens told the Miami Herald.
7. The Pentagon has opened at least three investigations into the Yemen raid.
According to The Hill, the Pentagon is “following standard procedures for reviews into the death of a service member, the deaths of civilians and the destruction of hardware.”