“Jill and I are mourning the tragic deaths of two of America’s finest — Navy SEALs who were lost at sea while executing a mission off the coast of East Africa last week,” Biden said Monday in a statement.
The SEALs, who have not been identified by U.S. Central Command out of respect for their families, were declared dead after an extensive 10-day search and rescue operation, according to the president. The pair went missing during a nighttime raid on a small Iranian boat, known as a dhow, which was carrying parts of ballistic and cruise missiles that Iran has been supplying to Houthi fighters in Yemen. One of the service members had tried to board the vessel in rough seas but fell into the water before the second sailor dived in after him in an attempt to save him, per protocol.
“Recovery efforts are still continuing as we grieve this profound loss for our country,” Biden said. “These SEALs represented the very best of our country, pledging their lives to protect their fellow Americans.”
“Our hearts go out to the family members, loved ones, friends, and shipmates who are grieving for these two brave Americans,” he added. “Our entire country stands with you. We will never fail to honor their service, their legacy, and their sacrifice.”
The search, with support from Japan and Spain, has so far covered more than 21,000 miles of water.