The widow of a Navy SEAL killed in an operation in Yemen drew the longest ovation at President Donald Trump’s first joint address to Congress on Tuesday night.
Carryn Owens, the wife of William “Ryan” Owens, was seated near Trump’s family in an upper balcony. She cried when Trump mentioned her husband and continued to throughout the ovation.
“Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero — battling against terrorism and securing our nation,” Trump said.
Trump again defended the Yemen raid, pushing back on reports that the raid was a failure.
“I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies,” said Trump, referencing Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
That passage led to a long, sustained ovation for Owens, who stood and looked toward the sky at one point. Tears dropped down her face as the ovation continued.
Trump then went off script, saying that Ryan Owens was looking down and was “very happy because he just broke a record” for a standing ovation.
Owens’ father has refused to meet with Trump, who went to Dover Air Force Base when Owens’ body returned home.
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Bill Owens said Friday, speaking out for the first time in an interview with the Miami Herald.
“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?’’
Earlier Tuesday, Trump appeared to shift the blame for the operation to the generals, telling Fox News that the raid “was started before I got here.”
“This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do,” Trump said. “ And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. And they lost Ryan.”