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Trump attends dignified transfer at Dover AFB

A 1st Theater Sustainment Command Soldier presents a folded American flag to a family member of a deceased service member, Nov. 5, 2018. (Sgt. Kayla Benson/U.S. Army)

President Donald Trump was joined Jan. 19 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan as the remains of four Americans killed last week in Syria were returned to American soil.

The bodies of Boynton Beach, Fla., native Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent, 35, of New York state, Department of Defense contractor Scott A. Wirtz,42, of St. Louis, Mo., and defense contractor Ghadir Taher, 27, of East Point, Ga. were brought to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

The four were numbered among 14 killed Jan. 16 when a bomb exploded in the Syrian town of Manjib. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the blast.

The remains were flown from Ramstein AB, Germany, to Dover aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft, arriving before the president’s aircraft, which touched down at the Delaware base at about 10:36 a.m. Trump flew to Dover aboard a modified Boeing C-32 instead of the more familiar VC-25.

The media was on hand as the transfer case containing Wirtz’s remains was the first to be carried out of the C-17.

The president led the official party at Dover, walking from the base military passenger terminal nearby. The group went up the rear ramp of the Globemaster III, where a short prayer was conducted inside the aircraft, out of sight of reporters. The party then left the aircraft and stood to the side as Wirtz’s remains, reposing in a flag-draped aluminum transfer case, was solemnly carried from the C-17 by a military honor team. The six-person team conveyed the case to a waiting van, which drove to the nearby Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs.

The staff at the center, also located on Dover AFB, is tasked with positively identifying each set of remains and preparing them for transfer to their families.

Trump saluted as Wirtz’s body was brought down the airplane’s ramp, while Pompeo, Shanahan, and Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper placed their hands over their hearts. Service personnel in the official party also saluted, as did several dozen co-workers and friends of the four Americans, who stood at attention in military formation nearby.

The press did not record the transfers of Farmer, Kent, and Taher as their families declined to grant permission for media coverage. Department of Defense policy requires the family to give their consent for the press to be present at the transfer.

The president had met with family members of each of the fallen beforehand at the passenger terminal and was to attend the transfer services for the others, walking out to the Globemaster each time with the rest of the official party.

Trump had previously announced the trip via a tweet earlier in the morning.


© 2019 Middletown Transcript, Del.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.