PEORIA — A day ahead of his funeral services, family members of Senior Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens, the Navy SEAL killed during a raid in Yemen last month, expressed their gratitude to central Illinoisans for their cards and notes since Owens was killed in late January.

"Your thoughtfulness during this difficult time has been greatly appreciated and brought us much comfort. Thank you!" the family wrote in a communication sent through the Peoria-based America's Gold Star Families group.

Owens, a 1998 graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School in Chillicothe, was killed in combat with members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday in Virginia, where Owens lived.

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery during the first week in March.

Those who wish to send their condolences to the family can send them through America's Gold Star Families, ATTN: Navy SEAL, 6403 N. Talisman, Peoria, IL 61615. For more information, contact (309) 231-5090.

The Defense Department said Owens was assigned to an East Coast-based Special Warfare unit, but multiple news outlets have said Owens was assigned to SEAL Team 6, a highly classified and elite counter-terrorism unit that also is known by the term DEVGRU. Three other sailors, presumably with the same SEAL team, were injured in the raid. The raid left nearly 30 others dead, including an estimated 14 militants. At least one young girl also died during the raid.

A fourth U.S. service member was injured when an MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey had a "hard landing." 

Owens was the first armed forces casualty under the Trump administration, which has said the raid was a success in that it gathered sensitive information from militants. Military officials last week released some video files seized during the raid, which appears to be footage made public a decade ago.

 

Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 and akravetz@pjstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/andykravetz.