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Navy SEAL Is Trump Administration's First U.S. Combat Death

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Trump administration has had many firsts so far. This first is particularly somber - the first U.S. service member to be killed in combat under President Trump's leadership as commander in chief. It happened Saturday in Yemen.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

William Ryan Owens was a Navy SEAL and chief special warfare operator. Owens was from Peoria, Ill. He joined the Navy after graduating from high school in 1998 and started SEAL training in 2001.

CORNISH: Cody Jackson, a high school friend, spoke about Owens to the Peoria Journal Star. He said, everyone has dreams, and not everyone knows what they want to do in high school, but he did. He wanted to be a Navy SEAL. Back then, he wasn't the most fit guy in the world, but he'd get up every morning and do the Navy SEAL workout because that's what he wanted to do.

SHAPIRO: Owens was a decorated sailor, earning two Bronze Stars for combat valor. He earned the rank of chief petty officer in 2009. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today that President Trump has already reached out to Owens' family.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

SEAN SPICER: The president offered his sincerest condolences to (unintelligible) Owens' wife, his father and their three children. Chief Owens was on his 12th deployment, from what I understand. We could never repay the debt of gratitude we owe him, the freedom that he fought for and the sacrifice that he made as well as the other members of his unit who were injured in this operation.

CORNISH: Three other members of Owens' unit were injured in the raid against an al-Qaida outpost in Yemen on Saturday. Chief Petty Officer William Ryan Owens was 36 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF PETER BRODERICK SONG, "BROKEN PATTERNS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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