President Donald Trump made an unexpected trip to Dover Air Force Base on Thursday to show support to families receiving the remains of two fallen U.S. Army service members, Chief Warrant Officers David C. Knadle and Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr.
Trump was accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Miley and Actor Jon Voight, all of whom were seen leaving the White House late Thursday and boarding Marine One.
Later video showed the dignified transfer ceremony at Dover.
On Thursday, the Pentagon had identified Knadle, 33, of Tarrant, Texas; and Fuchigami, 25, of Keaau, Hawaii, both of whom were Apache helicopter pilots and killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
The two members were providing security for ground troops in Logar Province when their helicopter crashed. Both had deployed to Afghanistan in October and were assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood.
Both Knadle and Fuchigami were recipients of the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and more.
“First Attack is saddened by the tragic loss of Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr,” said Lt. Col. Adam Camarano, commander, 1-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. “Our heartfelt condolences go to both families and their friends during this difficult time. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Knadel and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Fuchigami will always be remembered as a part of the heroic legacy of the 1st Cavalry Division; forged by the sacrifices of brave Cavalry Troopers who have laid down their lives in defense of freedom.”
A NATO Resolute Support statement had confirmed the incident Wednesday and said an investigation was underway to determine the cause of the crash, but it did not initially appear to be caused by enemy fire.
The Taliban immediately claimed credit for the attack, which the U.S. has refuted as false.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the Associated Press that the group was responsible for downing a U.S. Chinook helicopter at approximately 1 a.m. local time during a hostile engagement with “invaders and their hirelings” in the Logar Province.
The latest two casualties mark 19 U.S. deaths in Afghanistan this year, in addition to three non-combat deaths.