Written from notes from the White House Press pool reporter
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — February 2, 2024
President Joe Biden paid tribute to three Army reservists killed in a drone attack by an Iranian-backed militia in Jordan, adding to American casualties in a proxy war since Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel. The somber ceremony unfolded on Friday as the bodies of the fallen soldiers were returned to the United States.
In a silent and dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden stood alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General C.Q. Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The cold north wind bit through their overcoats as they witnessed the removal of the flag-draped transfer cases from a massive gray C-5 transport plane.
The fallen soldiers were identified as Sergeant William Rivers, Sergeant Breonna Moffett, and Sergeant Kennedy Sanders. Carried one at a time by teams of six carriers in camouflage uniforms and white gloves, the transfer cases were solemnly transported from the cargo bay of the aircraft to a waiting van.
A chaplain offered a prayer as the Bidens and military officials stood with hands over their hearts, looking straight ahead as each case passed by. The families of the fallen service members observed the “solemn movement” from a cordoned-off area on the tarmac, shielded from the view of the press pool.
The van doors were closed, and the vehicle departed slowly, all present standing at attention. At 1:57 PM, President Biden, the first lady, and attendees left in single file, marking the conclusion of the ceremony.
Two members of the Navy SEALs were lost at sea during operations against Iranian arms smuggling in the Arabian Sea on January 11, 2024, and are now presumed dead. The incident adds another layer of sorrow and underscores the risks faced by the U.S. military in various theaters of conflict.