There were 94 rounds of applause during President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress. The most sustained ovation came as he honored the first casualty of his presidency, Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who died in a raid in Yemen in late January.
Owens’ widow, Carryn Owens, sat in the first lady’s box and, for a few seconds, while the president described her late husband’s bravery, she fought back tears while everyone in the House chamber looked at her.
“Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero -- battling against terrorism and securing our nation,” Mr. Trump said. He added that he had just spoken to Defense Secretary James Mattis, who had confirmed for him again that the raid had been “highly successful” and had generated “vital intelligence” that would lead to more victories. “Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity,” the president said.
For one minute and 38 seconds, the chamber applauded, and tears streamed down Owens’ face.
Carryn Owens looked upwards periodically, mouthing the words “Thank you. Thank you.” She clasped her hands as the audience applauded.
After the cheering finally subsided, Mr. Trump said, “Ryan is looking down and he’s very happy because I think he just broke a record” -- that for sustained applause.
The Yemen raid didn’t seem to go as planned, resulting in Ryan Owens’ death, the death of civilians and in the loss of a U.S. aircraft. Since his death, questions have been raised about how successful the operation actually was.
One of the most vocal critics of the raid has been Owens’ own father. Bill Owens told The Miami Herald in a story published Sunday that he had refused to meet with President Trump when both came to Dover Air Force Base to receive the casket carrying his son.
“I want an investigation,” Owens, a retired Fort Lauderdale police detective and a veteran himeself, told the newspaper. “The government owes my son an investigation.”