President Donald Trump paid homage to the first military death of his nascent administration in his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, creating a memorable, heartfelt moment of recognition for the slain Navy SEAL’s widow.
Carryn Owens received the longest applause of the night — totaling more than two minutes of sustained applause — after Trump acknowledged her presence and the heroic efforts of her late husband, chief special warfare operator William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in an intelligence-gathering raid in Yemen last month.
“The challenges we face as a nation are great, but our people are even greater — and none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform,” Trump said. “We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy special operator senior chief William ‘Ryan’ Owens. Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”
Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who were seated behind Trump, stood up to applaud as attendees of the president’s address showered Owens with the 30-second standing ovation.
Still seated, her eyes watery as she appeared to try to contain her emotion, Owens mouthed “thank you” to the crowd before taking a deep breath, looking up into the air and mouthing “I love you, baby” to her late husband.
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, was seen consoling Owens, placing her hand on Owens’ knee as the president resumed his remarks.
“I just spoke to our great General [James] Mattis — just now — who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy,’” Trump said. “Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.”
The crowd again erupted into a standing ovation, this time including the president himself. Now standing, Owens clasped her hands as she looked into the air once again, eventually applauding her husband with the crowd as she fought back tears and mouthed again that she loves him.
That round of applause lasted beyond 100 seconds, prompting Trump to veer off script in an hour-long speech in which he largely stuck to his teleprompter.
“Ryan is looking down right now, you know that, and he’s very happy because I think he just broke a record,” Trump said, drawing laughter from the crowd and a smile from Owens.
“As the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” he continued. “Ryan laid down his life for his friends, his country and for our freedom, and we will never forget Ryan. To those allies who wonder what kind of a friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.”