President Donald Trump is traveling to Dover Air Force Base on Thursday afternoon for the return of the remains of two Army soldiers who were killed in a helicopter crash this week in Afghanistan, according to the White House.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, from Tarrant, Texas, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., 25, from Keaau, Hawaii, were killed Wednesday in Logar Province while providing security for troops on the ground, the Pentagon announced earlier Thursday.
The U.S. Forces Afghanistan press office said that preliminary reports do not indicate the crash was caused by enemy fire, but that the episode remains under investigation.
This marks at least the third trip Trump has made the trip to the Delaware Air Force base to witness what is called a dignified transfer, which honors American military members who die while serving their country.
In February 2017, Trump traveled to Dover after Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens was killed during a U.S. raid in Yemen. In January, he visited when the remains of four Americans killed by a suicide bomber in Syria were returned to the U.S.
Last month, Trump vividly described the anguish families feel when he has visited with them at Dover as he defended his decision to move troops in northern Syria, paving the way for a Turkish invasion.
Trump said that he has been surprised at how well the families appear to be dealing with the death of their loved one.
“I see people that were smiling, saying, ‘Oh, Mr. President, thank you for being here,’” he said.
But it’s short-lived. He said the families break down when the cargo plane arrives and the transfer case, covered with an American flag, is carried out with military personnel on each side.
“I’ve seen people that I thought were really incredible the way they were, I didn’t even understand how they could take it so well, scream like I’ve never seen anything before,” Trump said. “Sometimes, they’ll run to the coffin. They’ll break through military barriers, they’ll run to the coffin and jump on the coffin.”
“Crying mothers and wives, crying desperately,” Trump said. “And this is on these endless wars that just never stopped and there’s a time and there’s a place, but it’s time to stop.”
Knadle and Fuchigami had been assigned to 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
At least 19 Americans have been killed in combat in Afghanistan this year. In total, more than 2,400 Americans have died since the U.S. first arrived in Afghanistan in October 2001.
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