The father of the first American solider killed in combat under President Donald Trump spurned a meeting with the president, questioning the Yemen raid one day after the original refugee ban, telling the administration: "Don't hide behind my son’s death," The Miami Herald reported Sunday.
"I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him," Bill Owens told the paper, recalling his response to the chaplain informing him President Trump was coming to the private military ceremony at Dover Air Force Base. "I told them I don't want to meet the president.
"I told them I didn't want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn't let me talk to him."
William "Ryan" Owens, a Navy SEAL, was killed early in the Jan. 28 anti-terrorism raid in Yemen, a hour-long firefight where "everything went wrong," U.S. military officials told The New York Times.
"Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn't even barely a week into his administration?" Owens' father told the Herald. "Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?"
Bill Owens is bothered by the fact President Trump's now-overturned refugee ban came just one day before the mission that resulted in his son's death.
"It just doesn't make any sense to do something to antagonize an ally when you're going to conduct a mission in that country," he told the Herald. "Did we alienate some of the people working with them, translators or support people? Maybe they decided to release information to jeopardize the mission."
Owen's father not only questioned the timing of the raid, but he denounced the White House's labeling the mission a success and its public criticism of detractors of that label.
"Don't hide behind my son's death to prevent an investigation," Owens told the Herald. "I want an investigation. . . . The government owes my son an investigation."
Ryan Owens, the son of Bill, also a military veteran, had earned a Silver Star, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, before his death as a member of the elite tactical strike force known as SEAL Team 6, per the report.
"I'd like some answers about all the things that happened in the timeline that led up to it," Bill Owens told the Herald. "I know what the timeline is, and it bothers me a lot."
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