Biden meets grieving families and honors troops killed in Afghanistan attack

The White Home flag was at half-staff when President Biden left early Sunday morning for a drive below cloudy skies to a close-by navy base, the place he boarded Air Drive One with First Girl Jill Biden. He wore a black go well with somewhat than his typical blue, and his vacation spot was someplace he hoped by no means to go to whereas serving as commander in chief.

He quickly touched down at Dover Air Drive Base, which has spent the final 20 years as a degree of return for U.S. service members who died in Afghanistan. Biden introduced this yr that he would withdraw troops from the nation, saying he was not keen to ship any extra American little children to die there.

However to be able to safeguard the evacuation of U.S. residents and Afghan allies after the Taliban swept into Kabul this month, he deployed 1000’s extra service members to supply safety on the airport. It’s a harmful mission, leaving them susceptible to terrorist assaults as they display screen potential vacationers.

These fears had been realized Thursday, when a suicide bomber from an affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group blew himself up at an airport gate. Eleven Marines, one Military soldier and one Navy corpsman died, together with practically 200 Afghans.

So like his predecessors, Biden went to Dover on Sunday to fulfill with the households who misplaced little children in America’s longest conflict days earlier than it was scheduled to finish. After the non-public conferences, he witnessed what’s generally known as a dignified switch, as flag-draped circumstances containing human stays had been unloaded from the again of a cargo aircraft.

Earlier than the switch started, Biden walked up the ramp into the aircraft to hope. He was joined by the primary girl, Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers Gen. Mark A. Milley and different navy leaders.

A switch case with the stays of Military Workers Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tenn., are carried off a navy plane at Dover Air Drive Base in Delaware on Sunday.

(AFP by way of Getty Photographs)

A case with the remains of a fallen service member is placed inside a transfer vehicle at Dover Air Force Base.

A case with the stays of a service member killed in Afghanistan is positioned inside a switch car at Dover Air Drive Base in Delaware on Sunday.

(AFP by way of Getty Photographs)

They stood exterior whereas the our bodies had been eliminated. The scene was practically silent. Plane equipment hummed within the background whereas the white-gloved switch groups stored time — “hup, hup” — and a marshal barked orders.

The one different sound was the sobbing that might be heard from the place the households of the useless had been watching.

Biden held his proper hand to his chest as every case handed by. His eyes remained locked on each till it was loaded right into a car to be pushed away, then bowed his head.

5 of the useless got here from California. The remaining hailed from Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

“They had been a part of the bravest, most succesful, and probably the most selfless navy on the face of the Earth. They usually had been a part of, merely, what I name the spine of America,” Biden stated Thursday after the assault happened. “They’re the backbone of America, the very best the nation has to supply.”

A number of of the useless service members had been infants or toddlers in the course of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults that sparked the invasion of Afghanistan, a grim reminder of how lengthy U.S. troops have served there.

It’s unclear in the event that they would be the ultimate U.S. deaths within the conflict. The evacuation effort is scheduled to final two extra days, and there are an estimated 300 Americans nonetheless making an attempt to go away.

Biden warned Saturday that “the scenario on the bottom continues to be extraordinarily harmful,” and one other assault is “extremely probably.”

Later that evening, U.S. officers warned People to “instantly” keep away from the airport for their very own security. One other assault might need been foiled Sunday by a U.S. drone strike, which officers stated focused a car ferrying extra suicide bombers towards the airport.

“Vital secondary explosions from the car indicated the presence of a considerable quantity of explosive materials,” stated Capt. Invoice City of U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan.

Roughly 2,500 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan because the conflict started. Former President Trump started the withdrawal course of by reaching an settlement with the Taliban final yr.

President Biden walks among gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.

President Biden walks by means of Arlington Nationwide Cemetery on April 14 after saying his plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

(Brendan Smialowski / AFP by way of Getty Photographs)

Biden pushed again the deadline for pulling out, however he’s been adamant about ending the withdrawal.

“We went to Afghanistan due to a horrific assault that occurred 20 years in the past,” he stated in April when saying his plans. “That can’t clarify why we must always stay there in 2021.”

After making his announcement, he visited Part 60 of Arlington Nationwide Cemetery, the place U.S. troops who died in Afghanistan are buried. Rows of similar white headstones lined the inexperienced grass.

“Laborious to imagine, isn’t it?” Biden stated after laying a wreath.

There might quickly be contemporary graves there.

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