Decorated U.S. Navy SEAL Who Trained in Coronado Identified as Service Member Killed in Yemen Raid

The fatality is the first known U.S. combat death since President Trump took office

Pentagon officials have identified the U.S. service member killed in a raid in Yemen over the weekend as Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, a U.S. Navy SEAL who trained in Coronado for a period of time. 

Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, completed his basic Special Warfare Training in Coronado as well as Advanced Special Warfare Training at Naval Base Coronado from 2001 to 2002. He also completed Personnel Support Detachment in Coronado. 

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis released a statement Monday offering condolences to the family and shipmates of the fallen Navy soldier.

"Ryan gave his full measure for our nation, and in performing his duty, he upheld the noblest standard of military service," Mattis' statement said. "The United States would not long exist were it not for the selfless commitment of such warriors."

Owens was killed in a firefight Sunday with militants from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's branch in Yemen. The raid left nearly 30 others dead, including an estimated 14 militants. Three U.S. service members were wounded, as was a fourth, who was injured when a military aircraft assisting in the mission had a "hard landing" nearby, according to U.S. Central Command.

Owens is the first member of the U.S. military to have died in action authorized by President Donald Trump.

"Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism," Trump said in a statement.

"My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member," he said.

Owens was a decorated Navy SEAL who was awarded the Bronze Star, 

Joint Service Commendation Medal w/Combat “V”, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal and National Defense Service Medal, among others. Over the course of his career, he received more than 15 honors. 

In addition to training on Naval Base Coronado, Owens trained in Illinois and at an East Coast-based Special Warfare Unit. 

Planning for the clandestine counterterrorism raid begun before President Barack Obama left office on Jan. 20, but Trump authorized the raid, a U.S. defense official told the AP, who was not authorized to discuss details beyond those announced by the Pentagon and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sunday's raid was not the first time that the United States had conducted a counterterrorism raid on the ground in Yemen, but it was not the usual approach of striking from the air, the defense official said.

The raid was planned as a clandestine operation and not intended to be made public, but the loss of a service member changed that, the official said, adding that no detainees were taken in the operation.

An al-Qaida official and an online news service linked to the terror group said the raid left about 30 people dead, including women and children. Among the children killed was Anwaar, the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Yemeni-American cleric killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen in 2011, according to the girl's grandfather.

In addition to killing the militants, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said U.S. forces "captured a whole host of information about future plots that's going to benefit this country and keep us safe."

The president "extends his condolences," he said on ABC's "'This Week." ''But more importantly, he understands the fight that our servicemen and women conduct on a daily basis to keep this country safe."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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