WILMINGTON, Del. - President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden joined grieving families at the Dover Air Force Base on Friday to honor the three American service members who were killed in a drone attack in Jordan over the weekend.
The Bidens arrived at the base Friday afternoon to witness the transfer of the remains of the troops killed in Sunday's assault.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. CQ Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will joined the Bidens for the transfer in Dover, where such events take place when U.S. service members are killed in action. They will also met with the families privately prior to the ceremony.
Friday is the second dignified transfer Biden attends as president. In August 2021, he honored the 13 service members killed during the suicide bombing in Kabul. As vice president, Biden also attended a dignified transfer in 2016 for two U.S. soldiers killed in a suicide blast at Bagram Airfield. He also attended one as a senator in 2008 after the family requested his presence and the Pentagon gave him permission to do so.
US President Joe Biden greets military personnel on arrival at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on February 2, 2024, to attend the dignified transfer of the remains of three US service members killed in the drone attack on the US military out
On Tuesday, Biden indicated how to respond after the killing of the three American service members, saying that he did not want to expand the war in the Middle East.
He told reporters he was aiming to prevent further escalation.
"I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East," Biden said at the White House before departing for a fundraising trip to Florida. "That’s not what I’m looking for."
While it’s unclear whether Biden meant he has decided on a specific retaliatory plan, a U.S. official told The Associated Press that the Pentagon was still assessing options to respond to the recent attack.
The U.S. Department of Defense on Monday identified the three Army Reserve soldiers as Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton; Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross; and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah.
At Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast at the Capitol, Biden acknowledged Rivers, Moffett and Sanders by name, again vowing to never forget their sacrifice to the nation.
"They risked it all," the president said.
President Joe Biden places his hand over his heart as a U.S. Army carry team moves a flagged dragged transfer case containing the remains of Army Sgt. William Rivers during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base on February 02, 2024 in Dover, D
Rivers, Sanders and Moffett were assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, Fort Moore and were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
The three were killed on Jan. 28, in Jordan, "when a one-way unmanned aerial system (OWUAS) impacted their container housing units near the Syrian border," known as Tower 22. Dozens of others were injured in the strike, which remains under investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.