Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy Special Operator Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens, had tears streaming down her face and looked to the sky as the president spoke about her husband, who was killed during a raid on al Qaeda militants in Yemen on Jan. 28. He was 36 years old.
“We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens,” Trump said. “Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero — battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”
Speaking about the standing ovation, Trump said, “Ryan is looking down right now, you know that, and he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record.”
Carryn Owens, seated next to First Daughter Ivanka Trump as one of the President’s guests for the evening, softly smiled and mouthed, “Thank you,” as the room gave a standing ovation.
Her prominent presence comes just days after Ryan Owens’ father revealed that he rebuked the President and his daughter when they flew to Dover Air Force Base to meet Owens’ body.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Bill Owens, who served four years in the Navy before joining the Army Reserves and eventually the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, called the raid that ended his son’s life a “stupid mission.” He told the newspaper that he refused Trump’s request to meet him.
“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,” Bill Owens told the Herald. “Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”
In his speech, the President talked up the raid, saying “I just spoke to [Defense Secretary] Gen. [James] Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.’
“Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom — we will never forget him.”
Ryan, a member of the military’s SEAL Team 6 (the unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden), was killed during an assault on al Qaeda militants in Yemen that also killed nearly 30, including civilians. Multiple reports claim an 8-year-old girl died.
The raid was planned by former President Barack Obama’s administration but approved by Trump, making Owens the first known military casualty since Trump became Commander in Chief.