President Obama was at Dover Air Force Base last night as the caskets of the American soldiers killed in Afghanistan earlier this week returned home:
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – U.S. President Barack Obama saw first hand the human cost of the Afghanistan war Thursday as he saluted the flag-draped caskets of 18 soldiers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed in Afghanistan this week.
After a midnight flight in his Marine One presidential helicopter, Obama landed in Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, home of the largest U.S. military mortuary and main point of entry for service members killed abroad.
The previously unannounced visit came as Obama weighs whether to send more troops to Afghanistan to fight an insurgency that has reached its fiercest level in eight years.
Minutes before Obama’s arrival, an Air Force C-17 transport aircraft landed in the base, carrying the bodies of eight Army soldiers killed by a roadside bomb and seven soldiers and three DEA agents killed in a helicopter crash.
A military chaplain accompanied Obama and other officials onboard and said a prayer over each casket before it was transferred out of the aircraft, military officials said.
Most of the event was closed to media and journalists were only allowed to see the transfer of the last casket.
In cold and blustery weather, Obama marched briskly in step with four officers to the aircraft. Attorney General Eric Holder, DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart and two other officials walked behind in a second rank.
They marched up the ramp, out of sight of the media. After a few moments they walked back down the ramp and stood in a line under the tail of the C-17.
Obama stood at attention and saluted as six soldiers carried the casket, bearing the body of Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana, off the plane and loaded it onto a waiting van.
The military calls the process a dignified transfer, not a ceremony, because there is nothing to celebrate. The cases are not labeled coffins, although they come off looking that way, enveloped in flags.
By 4:45 a.m., the president had touched back down on the South Lawn.
No snarky comment here, because it’s just not appropriate.