Aug. 29 (UPI) — President Joe Biden on Sunday attended the dignified transfer of the American service members killed in a pair of explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The president flew in Air Force One along with first lady Jill Biden to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where they met with some of the families of the 13 service members killed in the attack.
“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 written statement earlier Sunday. “Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far. May God protect our troops and all those standing watch in these dangerous days.”
The families of 11 of the service members killed in the attack by the terror group known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province allowed media to document the event while the remains of the other two service members were transferred out of public view.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley were also present for the transfer.
“The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team composed of military personnel from the fallen member’s respective service,” Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations said.
Sunday marked the first time Biden has overseen the return of slain U.S. service members since taking office in January.
“Jill and I are just getting back from Dover Air Force Base in my home state, where we met with the families of 13 fallen heroes in Afghanistan who lost their lives in the service of our country,” Biden told press Sunday.
The 13 service members killed included 11 Marines, one Army soldier and one Navy corpsman, ranging in age from 20 to 31.
They were the first U.S. troops killed in hostile action since February 2020.
The U.S. responded to the attack Friday night with a drone strike targeting the planners of the attack.
Biden said in a statement that the strike wouldn’t be the last and U.S. forces “will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.”
On Sunday, the United States launched a defensive drone strike on a suspected car bomb.