As his decision on Afghanistan war strategy nears, President Obama made a surprise trip to Dover Air Force Base Wednesday night into Thursday morning  to attend the dignified transfer movement of 18 U.S. personnel who were killed in Afghanistan on Monday.

The dignified transfer is a solemn movement that is conducted for every US military member that dies while in service in a theater of war.

The 18 killed included service members and Drug Enforcement Agency agents.

The traveling press corps that accompanied the President to Dover was permitted to witness one of the transfers, per the wishes of the families.

 The President stood at attention with the six –person carry team near the ramp of the C-17 which carried the flag draped transfer case which held the body of Sgt. Dale R. Griffin of Terre Haute, Indiana. As the carry team brought the case down the ramp, the President and the official party saluted.

Sgt. Griffin’s family members were also present.

The President was accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, U.S. Army Assistant Judge Advocate Maj Gen Daniel Wright, U.S. Army Special Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Michael Repass, and Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center Col. Robert Edmondson, who will served as the Dignified Transfer Host Officer.

Fifty-five Americans have died in Afghanistan this month, making it the deadliest month of the war since it began eight years ago.  Two hundred and seventy-seven Ameriacns have died this year, forty-three percent more than last year.