While Donald Trump and Ivanka brag about receiving “many, many” bodies of slain soldiers, the truth is that Trump himself has traveled to Dover Air Force Base exactly four times since being berated for his incompetence by the father of a slain Navy SEAL, according to an anonymous former White House aide.
Bill Owens, the father of William “Ryan” Owens, refused to shake Trump’s hand at that Feb. 1, 2017, encounter, the aide said, and then told Trump that he was responsible for his son’s death for approving the disastrous raid in Yemen without bothering to understand the risks.
“He refused to go back for two years, he was so rattled,” the aide explained.
Trump ordered the raid just five days after taking office, and made the decision at social hour that included Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, rather than his National Security Council staff, and did so because Obama had refused to.
According to a HuffPost review of Air Force records, there have been 96 “dignified transfers,” as the military refers to them, at Dover since the start of Trump’s presidency, which saw the return of 127 Americans killed overseas. Trump has been there for four of the transfers, which brought home the bodies of nine soldiers.
Still, Trump recently has boasted of receiving “many, many” soldiers in dignified transfers, as did Ivanka at the Republican National Convention.
“I’ve stood by my father’s side at Dover Air Force Base as he’s received our fallen heroes, and each time it has steeled his resolve to finally stop ― finally stop, the endless foreign wars,” she said.
“It’s one thing to not go. It’s another thing to lie about it,” says Fred Wellman, a 22-year veteran who served in Desert Storm and now works with the Lincoln Project. Wellman contrasted a visit by Mr. and Mrs. George W. Bush, who were yelled at by families of those killed in Iraq. He said that the Bushes stood and took it while Trump doesn’t accept responsibility for anything.
Trump did not return to Dover until January 2019, when he was there for the arrival of four soldiers killed in Syria. In November 2019, he was there for the arrival of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and was accompanied by Melania and actor Jon Voight.
“He treats it like a tourist stop,” Wellman said. “‘Hey, Jon Voight, I get to greet dead guys. Want to come?’ He might as well be in his sweaty golf clothes when he swings by Dover.”
Since February 10, there have been 17 dignified transfers at Dover, and neither Trump nor Pence have attended any of them.
Bill Owens, meanwhile, recently appeared in a VoteVets ad urging Americans to vote against Trump. “Just five days into his presidency, Trump ordered Ryan’s SEAL team into Yemen. Not from the Situation Room with all the intelligence assembled, but sitting across a dinner table from Steve Bannon,” Owens says in the ad. “There was no vital interest at play. Just Donald Trump playing big-man-going-to-war.”