The Department of Defense today has identified Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens as the first American war casualty of the President Donald Trump era.
Owens, 36, of Peoria, Ill., died Jan. 29, 2017, of wounds received during a raid conducted in Yemen. Three other service members were wounded in the raid.
Navy Special Warfare Command confirmed Owens was assigned to an "East Coast-based Special Warfare unit." While multiple news outlets are reporting the unit as Seal Team Six, the Navy would not confirm.
An estimated 14 al-Qaida terrorists were killed during the raid, according to a release by the U.S. Central Command.
"Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism," Trump said in a White House press release on Jan. 29. "My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member.
A fifth service member was injured when "a U.S. military aircraft assisting in the operation experienced a hard landing at a nearby location," according to the CENTCOM release.
That aircraft was unable to fly after the landing and was intentionally destroyed.
Owens enlisted in the Navy in Aug. 24, 1998. After initially training as a cryptologic technician (communications), he served his initial tour of duty at the Office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland, Maryland, before attending basic and advanced SEAL training in Coronado, California, where he completed training in December 2002.
His first tour as a SEAL was at a West Coast unit, followed by three consecutive East Coast tours. He was on his fifth team tour when he was killed. He'd been with that unit just over two years.
He was selected for chief petty officer in 2009.
Along with his SEAL trident and basic parachutist wings, he is qualified to wear the following awards:
- Navy/Marine Corps Medal
- Bronze Star w/Combat "V" (2 awards)
- Bronze Star
- Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 awards)
- Joint Service Achievement Medal
- Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards)
- Combat Action Ribbon
- Joint Meritorious Unit Award (2 awards)
- Good Conduct Medal (6 awards)
- Presidential Unit Citation (3 awards)
- National Defense Service Medal
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (8 awards)
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.