The father of the Navy SEAL killed in a botched Yemen raid refused to meet Donald Trump when the casket carrying his son’s body returned to the US.
His son, chief special warfare officer William “Ryan” Owens, died after the SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al-Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.
He was a 36-year-old married father of three.
Owens told The Miami Herald: “I want an investigation. The government owes my son an investigation.”
He added that he refused to meet with the President who travelled with his daughter, Ivana, because the family had requested a private ceremony.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington.
“I told them I don’t want to meet the president.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC’s This Week on Sunday that she believes the president would support an investigation.
“I can’t imagine what this father is going through,” she said. “His son is a true American hero, and we should forever be in his son’s debt.”
The operation on January 29 was executed without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations, according to military sources.
It also later transpired the President had not even been in the situation room when the raid took place but was instead in the residential area of the White House.
White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said: “The raid that was conducted in Yemen was an intelligence-gathering raid.
“That’s what it was. It was highly successful. It achieved the purpose it was going to get, save the loss of life that we suffered and the injuries that occurred.”
Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been vocal in his criticism of the raid, saying it could not be called a success “when you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost”.
Trump responded on Twitter:
A day after McCain’s comments, Spicer said: “It’s absolutely a success, and I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens.
“He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was.”