Biden to pay tribute to U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan

Biden travels to Dover base to pay respects to US troops killed in Afghanistan

U.S. President Joe Biden arrived at Dover Air Force Base on Sunday to honor members of the military killed in a suicide bomb attack during the evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan last week.

Mr. Biden was traveling to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for a “dignified transfer” movement, a military ritual of receiving the remains of fallen troops killed in foreign combat.

The dead ranged in age from 20 to 31, and came from California and Massachusetts and states in between. They include a 20-year-old Marine from Wyoming who had been expecting his first child in three weeks and a 22-year-old Navy corpsman who in his last FaceTime conversation with his mother assured her that he would stay safe because “my guys got me.”

“The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others,” Biden said in a statement Saturday. “Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far.”

This combination of photos released by the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton/U.S. Department of Defense shows twelve service members killed in the Kabul airport bombing in Afghanistan on Aug. 26, 2021. Top Row, from left: Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif., Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif., Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah, Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska, and Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Bottom Row, from left: Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana, Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri, Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyo., Navy Corpsman, Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee. Not pictured is Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Roseville, Calif., was also killed. (1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton/U.S. Department of Defense via AP)

Family members of the fallen often travel to Dover to be present as flag-draped transfer cases are taken off the transport plane that returns them to American soil.

Like his three most recent predecessors as presidents, who all attended dignified transfers for troops killed in the nearly 20-year-old Afghanistan war, Mr. Biden is expected to meet with the families of the fallen before returning to Washington.

It will be the first time that Mr. Biden has traveled to Dover as president for such a movement. But he is not unfamiliar with the ritual.

The 13 troops who died in Kabul were the first U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan since February 2020. That was when the Trump administration reached an agreement with the Taliban that called for the militant group to halt attacks on Americans in exchange for a U.S. commitment to remove all American troops and contractors by May 2021. Mr. Biden announced in April that he would have all forces out by September.

Eleven of the 13 Americans killed were Marines. One was a Navy sailor and one an Army soldier.


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