Hall-Long meets Trumps at visit to DAFB

Bethany Hall-Long

Donald Trump

DOVER — Delaware was well-represented during President Trump’s visit to Dover Air Force Base last week.

The president, who made the trip to the base for the dignified transfer of the remains of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, a U.S. Navy SEAL, was greeted by Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long and accompanied by Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware.

While the president normally would have been welcomed by Gov. John Carney, the governor was otherwise occupied in dealing with a high-profile hostage situation at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.

The task of representing the state thus fell to Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, who said she was “contacted at the very last minute.”

The president flew from the White House in a helicopter for a visit that was not announced to the public ahead of time. Meanwhile in Delaware, Lt. Gov. Hall-Long was escorted onto the base, where she welcomed the president, his daughter Ivanka and other senior U.S. officials to the base and briefly greeted Chief Owens’ family.

The lieutenant governor, a Democrat, said politics were not mentioned, with remarks limited to “the life and dedication” of Chief Owens. The 36-year-old SEAL was killed during an American raid in Yemen in January and is believed to be the first American service member to die in combat under President Trump.

Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, whose husband served in the Navy, said she had taken part in military ceremonies before but never a dignified transfer.

“It is an experience that I think is going to be one of the greatest and highest honors that I have ever experienced and will ever experience,” she said.

She said she was also deeply impressed by Mortuary Affairs staff, describing them as dedicated.

While her interaction with the president was limited, Lt. Gov. Hall-Long said she spoke more in-depth with Ivanka Trump, though conversation was focused solely on military men and women and the events at the base.

“I think it brings it full circle,” the lieutenant governor said. “No matter what your party, when it comes to an American who gave their life …”

Former President Barack Obama, who ended a media ban on dignified transfers, visited the base several times to witness the formal occasion.

Transfers take place for every member of the U.S. military who dies “in the theater of operation,” according to the Air Force.

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