The most emotional moment of President Donald Trump’s first speech to a Joint Session of Congress was his tribute to fallen Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, who was killed in a late-January raid in Yemen.
"Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero — battling against terrorism and securing our Nation," Trump said. "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.’"
"Ryan's legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom — we will never forget him," Trump said.
His wife, Carryn, stood and received a standing ovation, tears streaming down her face.
Trump's administration has faced criticism over the January 28 intelligence-gathering mission that led to the 36-year-old’s death. Several other American service members were injured and more than 20 civilians, including women and children, were also killed in the raid, Politico reported.
Senior officials told NBC News they aren’t aware of any "actionable intelligence" gathered by the mission. Additionally, a senior congressional official said he didn’t know why al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was targeted because he wasn’t aware of any threat from that particular al-Qaeda chapter.
The White House described the mission as a success. On February 8, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said during a press briefing that anyone "who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and [does] a disservice to the life of Chief Owens."
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump did not accept responsibility for Owens’s death, which is the first American military death under his administration.
"This was a mission that was started before I got here," Trump told Fox News Tuesday in an interview from the White House. "This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do. And they came to see me. They explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected."
Trump eventually put blame on his generals, saying: "They lost Ryan."
"Don't hide behind my son's death to prevent an investigation," Bill Owens said.