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Navy SEAL who died in Yemen to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery

By COURTNEY MABEUS | The Virginian-Pilot (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 15, 2017

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A Navy SEAL who died after a January raid on an al-Qaida compound in Yemen will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a private ceremony next week.

Senior Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens’s interment is scheduled for Feb. 22. The date was listed on the cemetery’s website Tuesday night but was no longer online Wednesday. Cemetery spokeswoman Courtney Dock said Wednesday that the service is closed to media and the public and the date is subject to change.

Owens, 36, became the first U.S. service member to die in combat under President Donald Trump.

An obituary in The Virginian-Pilot described Owens, a Virginia Beach-based SEAL, as a devoted father who loved sports and serving his country. He deployed 12 times and had been highly decorated. Among his awards were the Silver Star and four Bronze Stars, including three with Combat Valor. He is survived by a wife, three children, his father and a grandmother.

”Ryan’s heart was as big as his voice and was known by all for his unbridled enthusiasm and positivity,” the obituary read.

The Jan. 29 raid became a flashpoint between the White House and critics who questioned how well it was vetted. The White House has said the raid was planned months earlier and approved under the Obama Administration. It was laid out before Trump during a dinner with close advisers and Defense Secretary James Mattis in the days before it was carried out.

At least three others were hurt in the raid and another three were injured when a Marine Osprey MV-22B tilt-rotor aircraft landed hard while picking up casualties.

The White House has stood by its characterization of the raid as a success.

The raid killed at least 14 al-Qaida fighters and netted, the Pentagon said, valuable information about the militant group. U.S. Central Command has said it is investigating if civilians, including children, were mixed in with the militants and not visible to assault forces, adding it was “likely” some were killed in the crossfire.

Owens enlisted in the Navy in 1998 and had served with a West Coast special warfare unit from 2003 until moving to serve with East Coast units in 2007, according to Navy records.

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Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens.

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