iStock/Thinkstock(DOVER, Del.) — The first U.S. service member killed in Syria in the fight against ISIS was returned to the United States on Sunday evening in a dignified transfer at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base.
Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, lost his life near the city of Ayn Issa in northern Syria on Thursday after he succumbed to wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device blast, military officials said.
The dignified transfer honors the remains of fallen service members returning from overseas. During the dignified transfer ceremony, honor guards from a fallen service member’s respective military service carry flag-draped containers from a transport aircraft to a vehicle. The remains are then taken to the mortuary at Dover where they are eventually turned over to the family for burial.
“I am deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave servicemembers has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of ISIL,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement on Thursday, referring to ISIS by another common acronym.
“It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe. Please keep this servicemember’s family, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers, and this Thanksgiving I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to all of our dedicated troops who selflessly protect us everyday,” Carter added.
Chief Dayton was assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two, which is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a U.S. Navy press release said. Hundreds of people with American flags lined a street in Virginia Beach as Dayton’s family left the area for Dover Air Force Base Sunday morning to meet the plane carrying his body.
Dayton, who joined the Navy in 1993, had received 19 awards, including the Bronze Star. He was an Enlisted Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, military officials said.
In October 2015, President Obama directed the Pentagon to insert special operations forces into Syria to advise and assist the Syrian opposition in its battle against ISIS militants. At any one time, up to 300 U.S. service members could be operating in Syria, where they are advising and assisting Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces who are fighting ISIS.
Dayton’s death follows the death of another U.S. service member in Iraq last month who was killed by a roadside bomb north of Mosul, where he was serving as an adviser to Iraqi troops.
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