The president’s archetypal travel successful bureau to witnesser the transportation of remains was a reminder of the toll of the Afghanistan war, and of his unsocial narration with it.
Aug. 29, 2021Updated 9:55 p.m. ET
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — A grey C-17 transport level landed successful Delaware soon aft 8 a.m. connected Sunday. It carried the remains of 11 Marines, a Navy medic and an Army unit sergeant, who collectively could beryllium the past Americans to dice successful the warfare successful Afghanistan.
Just earlier 8:40 a 2nd plane, a white-and-blue Boeing jetliner, parked adjacent to the transport. It carried the president who gave the orders to extremity that warfare aft astir 20 years, prompting the wide evacuation effort that those 13 work members were carrying retired erstwhile a bomber from the Islamic State Khorasan radical detonated his charges astatine the Kabul airport past week.
President Biden’s archetypal travel successful bureau to witnesser the transportation of remains astatine Dover was a reminder of the magnitude and outgo of the Afghanistan war, and of his unsocial attachment to it arsenic a legislator, a vice president and present a commandant successful chief.
Mr. Biden made an unannounced formation to Delaware for a uncommon statesmanlike quality astatine a transportation of remains of work members killed overseas. They were connected their mode from Afghanistan, via Kuwait and Germany, to last remainder successful communities crossed the federation that person supplied sons and daughters to combat 2 decades of what was erstwhile called the warfare connected terror.
The transfers began successful the precocious greeting and stretched astir 40 minutes, finishing aft noon. Time and again, work members successful varying shades of greenish fatigues carried flag-draped transportation cases down the ramp of the transport, which faced Air Force One connected the runway. First came the Army, past the Marines, past the Navy. The transportation teams, arsenic they are called, worked successful three-minute cycles, marching earlier a big of dignitaries including the president, the secretaries of authorities and defense, and respective apical subject brass. They carried the remains from the transport and lifted them done the backmost cargo doors of 4 grey vans.
The president stood with his manus implicit his bosom arsenic they passed by. When sets of Marines returned to the belly of the C-17, hands empty, to retrieve the adjacent acceptable of remains, Mr. Biden widened his stance and clasped his hands by his loop oregon down his back. Often helium bowed his caput with his eyes squeezed shut, arsenic if successful prayer.
Across from him sat rows of household members of the fallen, truthful galore of them that the Dover basal could not location them each successful its rooms built specially for adjacent of kin.
The fallen work members returning Sunday to Dover were Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City; Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.; Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, Calif.; Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif.; Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha; Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind.; Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas; Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Mo.; Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyo.; Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.; Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio; and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn.
The president and the archetypal lady, Jill Biden, met with the families of those work members midmorning connected Sunday. They past participated successful 13 transfers — 11 for families who chose to let the quality media to observe the remains of their loved ones returning home, and 2 for families who chose to support their transfers private.
Mr. Biden’s narration with the warfare has been analyzable for 2 decades, and it was analyzable connected Sunday. As helium prepared to conscionable with the families, subject officials confirmed an American drone strike successful Kabul. A Defense Department authoritative said the onslaught had eliminated an “imminent” menace to the airdrome that was bombed past week. A spokesperson for the Taliban, which has taken implicit the state arsenic U.S. troops leave, said civilians had been killed. Mr. Biden did not talk to reporters astir the onslaught oregon immoderate different portion of the trip, and helium declined connected Sunday day to reply a question astir information astatine the Kabul airport.
As a legislator from Delaware successful 2001, Mr. Biden voted to authorize President George W. Bush to commencement the warfare aft the Sept. 11 violent attacks. After assuming the presidency this year, Mr. Biden announced his plans to region each American troops from the state by the 20th day of those attacks. In between, nearly 2,500 American troops died successful the war.
Reporters were not allowed to observe the transfers successful the aboriginal years of the war, nether Mr. Bush. Newly elected President Barack Obama, who had chosen Mr. Biden arsenic his vice president, changed the argumentation successful 2009 to let quality media entree if families consented. His medication besides began offering contiguous household members proscription to witnesser the transfers. Since the change, Air Force officials say, much than 10,000 household members person made the travel to Dover to spot a loved one’s remains instrumentality to American soil.
Presidents seldom be the transfers. Mr. Obama went twice, successful 2009 and 2011. President Donald J. Trump went 4 times, erstwhile bringing the histrion Jon Voight with him. Mr. Biden went erstwhile arsenic vice president successful 2016. Sunday was his archetypal accidental arsenic president; these were the archetypal American work members killed successful combat overseas since helium took office.
Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan
Card 1 of 5
Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.
Mr. Biden has said helium hopes to person each American troops retired of Afghanistan by Tuesday, and that the deadline remains connected track. On Sunday, the U.S. subject was shifting its absorption from vetting and airlifting Afghan and American civilians to bringing its unit home.
In Dover, the fallen work members captured the implicit attraction of the president and his traveling entourage, which included 3 national authorities planes that matched the coloring of Air Force One. As the transportation teams worked, the lone sounds were the hum of a far-off motor and the “hup-hup” of the teams marching dilatory successful time, on with a fewer anguished cries from the household members who were shielded from reporters by a ample bus. At 1 constituent successful the humid weather, 1 of the onlookers, the woman of Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, appeared to illness and was rushed to aesculapian attraction by a squad of different bystanders. The transportation teams did not intermission their work.
Mr. Biden’s lone nationalist reflection connected the time came hours later, successful midafternoon remarks to workers astatine the Federal Emergency Management Agency successful Washington who were bracing to assistance the Gulf Coast withstand Hurricane Ida.
Before addressing the storm, the president told the workers helium had conscionable travel from Dover, wherever helium had seen 13 “fallen heroes” travel home.
“Let’s support them successful our prayers,” helium said.