Honors

Fallen Navy SEAL gets posthumous promotion, recalled as devoted family man

Former Green Beret Ben Collins provides insight

 

A Navy SEAL killed in action last week during a raid in Yemen will be posthumously advanced to senior chief petty officer, the Navy announced Thursday.

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Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, 36, of Peoria, Ill., died Jan. 29 of wounds sustained in a raid targeting Al Qaeda.

The Navy approved an exception to policy request for Owens' posthumous advancement, effective the day of his death.

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Owens, who was eligible for the fiscal year 2018 active duty Senior Chief Petty Officer Selection Board, was the first known U.S. combat casualty since Donald Trump took office less than two weeks ago.

More than half a dozen militant suspects were also killed in the raid on an Al Qaeda compound and three other U.S. service members were wounded.

More than a dozen civilians were also killed in the operation, including 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, The Associated Press reported.

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."

President Trump's visited Delaware's Dover Air Base to pay his respects in a trip that was shrouded in secrecy.

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 hotspots 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 counterterrorism operations -- mainly drone strikes -- in Yemen, where Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has exploited the chaos of the country's civil war.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.