After spending much of his first days in the Oval Office at a breakneck pace of meetings, briefings, and executive orders, many were surprised Wednesday afternoon when President Trump abruptly left the Oval Office with his daughter Ivanka to board a waiting Marine One helicopter.
The president and his daughter somberly made their way across the South Lawn to the waiting Marine One as reporters wondered where the president could be going.
The White House Press Office issued the following release:
POTUS and daughter Ivanka emerged from the Oval Office at 2:57 p.m. under cloudy skies on a chilly winter day, with Trump wearing a long, dark overcoat that was unbuttoned, allowing his signature blue tie to show. She was wearing black and blue overcoat that was buttoned, and carrying a black handbag. The first daughter had her blonde hair pulled up.
POTUS and his daughter walked slowly toward Marine One, Trump giving the pool a brief wave.
At 2:58 p.m., Ivanka boarded the executive helicopter first, followed by her father, who saluted the Marine as he started up the stairs.
At 3 p.m., the engines fired up, and two minutes later Marine One lifted off from the South Lawn.
At the time that release was issued, no one knew the president’s destination.
— Toluse Olorunnipa (@ToluseO) February 1, 2017
Jared Kushner watched Marine One depart alongside Vice President Mike Pence and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
But a short time later, a second release came from the White House Press Office — and this one not only revealed the president’s destination, but explained the need for secrecy:
POTUS is arriving shortly or has already arrived in Marine One at Dover Air Force Base for arrival of remains of a US commando killed early Sunday in Yemen during a raid on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Pentagon has identified the deceased as Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Ill. Multiple news outlets have said Owens was a member of SEAL Team 6. The death occurred during the first counter-terrorism operation of the Trump presidency.
Sen. Chris Coons (D) of Delaware is accompanying POTUS on the visit to Dover AFB.
The president is a part of every fallen service member’s memorial — surviving relatives are handed a folded flag “on behalf of the President of the United States of America” — but the family of fallen SEAL William Owens will receive their thanks in person this afternoon.
The ceremony President Trump and First Daughter Ivanka will observe is known as “dignified transfer,” or the transfer of the fallen service-member’s remains from military custody to the mortuary that will handle their final arrangements.
That ceremony is described in detail below:
May Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens rest in peace and prayers for his family.