Friday at Dover Air Force Base, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden joined bereaved families in solemn attendance amidst gray skies as they observed the return of three American service members who were slain in a drone attack in Jordan last weekend.
Commemorating deceased soldiers is a solemn responsibility that falls upon the commander-in-chief, as The Associated Press reported.
Biden stood by as the three transfer cases, adorned with American flags, were transported the brief distance from a C-5 galaxy military transport aircraft to an awaiting van, while placing his gloved right palm over his heart.
Aside from the directives given while each case was transported, the sole spoken word throughout the 15-minute dignified transfer comprised an Air Force chaplain's concise invocation of God's "grace and mercy."
The remains of Sgt. William Jerome Rivers of Carrollton, Georgia were in the initial transfer case. Sgt. Kennedy Sanders of Waycross and Sgt. Breonna Moffett of Savannah subsequently enacted the same trip.
Upon loading the final case into the van, the seven-member, white-gloved carry team—consisting of former U.S. Army personnel, including Sanders, Moffett, and Rivers—presented a final salute as the remains were being transported to the mortuary facility in Dover.
The Bidens met privately with the families at the Center for Families of the Fallen on the base prior to the dignified transfer. Additionally, the president had extended his condolences to them earlier this week in a conversation.
“This is not the homecoming for Kennedy I dreamed about,” Sanders’ father, Shawn, wrote in a Facebook posting Friday morning. “Now, I can’t stop reliving this nightmare.”
In a post on social media Shawn Sanders said that “kindness and outpouring of love” was “the only thing holding me up” since his daughter’s death.
Defense Department and administration officials, including chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and cane-using Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, joined the Bidens for the dignified transfer, a solemn procession performed in remembrance of U.S. service members killed in action.
In attendance were Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Rep. Buddy Carter of Delaware, who represents Moffett and Sanders' home districts, and Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware.
The soldiers returned to the United States shortly before the United States military launched its response to the lethal drone assault, which American officials attribute to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella organization of militias supported by Iran that includes Kataib Hezbollah.
The United States initiated a series of retaliatory airstrikes on Friday, which targeted dozens of Iranian-backed militia-occupied locations in Iraq and Syria.