The father of Chief Special Warfare Officer William “Ryan” Owens — the lone U.S. soldier killed during a recent botched raid in Yemen — is demanding that Donald Trump and his administration give a full account of the mission that led to his son’s untimely demise.
During the Jan. 28th operation, Ryan and up to 29 civilians lost their lives. There are also reports that some young children were among the casualties. The mission was supposed to be a “lightening raid” with the goal of procuring laptops, cell phones, and other intel about terrorists operating in the area. However, the strike went sideways from the beginning, starting with a malfunctioning air transport that suffered a hard landing and had to be destroyed. After that, what was supposed to be a surgical strike turned into an hour-long firefight which claimed Ryan’s life. “Everything went wrong,” according to military officials who spoke with the New York Times.
Former Fort Lauderdale Police Detective and military veteran Bill Owens grieves his son’s death, which took place in service to his country. Owens and his family recently received his son’s body at Dover Airforce Base located in Dover, Delaware. The base is home to a private ceremony that every parent with a child in the military never wants to attend. There are also occasions where the president or another political figure, attends the ceremony and meets with the family. However, this time that wasn’t the case. When told about Trump’s intention to participate in the ceremony and meet with him, Owens rejected the gesture.
I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said Friday, speaking out for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald.
Owens also wants Trump to open an independent investigation into what went wrong, including how the mission was planned out. Owen’s says that he was personally assured regarding the soundness of the operation that took his son’s life. The Yemen raid represents the first military action authorized by Trump, who signed off on the operation on Jan. 26 only six days into his term.
Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? 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?’’
After the mission, the Trump administration tried to spin the mission as a “successful operation by all standards,” according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. But at the same time, they also tried to shift blame for any negative fall out onto President Barack Obama’s outgoing administration. Insisting that Obama and his team gave the initial green light for the operation to go forward. However, it’s reported that Trump and his team only met on Jan. 26 to discuss the mission, over dinner. The people around the dinner table discussion included Vice President Mike Pence; Trump’s the disgraced then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Gen. Joseph F. Dundford Jr., and Senior advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner (Trump’s unqualified son-in-law).
There are also reports that Trump didn’t even bother to watch the operation from the situation room. Instead, he was too busy tweeting.
Owen’s also said he had a serious issue with how Trump treated the Gold Star family of fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan after they criticized him at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Khan’s father, Khizr Kahn stood with his wife on stage and spoke out against Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric that included his promise to enact a Muslim ban.
If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have even been in America,” Khan said. “He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?”
Khan held up a pocket Constitution and offered to lend it to Trump.
“You have have sacrificed nothing, and no one,” he finished.
In Response, Trump decided to go on the attack, suggesting to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that someone in Hillary Clinton’s campaign wrote Khan’s remarks for him and that his wife, Ghazala Khan, may not have been allowed to speak while on stage with her husband. Trump went on to rationalize his then-proposed Muslim ban by citing “Radical Islamic terrorism,” as his justification. When asked about what sacrifices he’s made for his country, Trump cited his business record of employing thousands of people as the example of his “sacrifice.”
This time neither Trump nor the White House addressed the criticisms of a Gold Star parent created under his administration. White House spokesman Michael C. Short issued a statement in which he described Ryan Owens as ” “an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.” The White House also accused all critics of the failed raid of dishonoring the memory of Ryan Owens. However, Owens’ father vehemently disagreed:
Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” said the elder Owens, pointing to Trump’s sharp words directed at the mission’s critics, including Sen. John McCain.
“I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation,” he said.
What is Trump going to do now? It’s unlikely that this latest Gold Star parent is going away anytime soon and he doesn’t seem afraid to speak his mind. After all, this man’s son died while trusting a poorly planned decision made by Trump’s administration and now he deserves the full truth and the justice that should follow. People need to continue to put pressure on their congressional representatives to do the right thing and put country over party. Chief Special Warfare Officer William “Ryan” Owens deserves no less.