Local Navy SEAL Identified In Deadly Yemen Raid

U.S. Navy

The service member killed Saturday is a Navy SEAL from Peoria, according to the Department of Defense.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, died January 28 in the Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen. He died of wounds sustained in a raid against al-Qaeda.

Sources confirm to 1470 & 100.3 WMBD Owens was a 1998 graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School in Chillicothe.

The Department of Defense said his team was supporting U.S. Central Command operations. Owens was assigned to an East Coast based Special Warfare unit.

Three other service members were injured during the raid, with an additional three that were hurt when their MV-22 Osprey crash-landed during an evacuation attempt.

U.S. Central Command says 14 fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were killed in the assault and that U.S. service members captured “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots.”

Yemeni security and tribal officials say the assault in central Bayda province killed three senior al-Qaeda leaders.

According to an article on the U.S. military news website, stripes.com, “Owens enlisted in the Navy in 1998, serving his first enlistment with naval intelligence before volunteering for the SEALs in the months prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a limited service record provided by the Navy. He finished basic SEAL training in 2002 and was sent to his first unit, located on the West Coast, in 2003.”

The article continues, “Owens was previously awarded two Bronze Stars with Valor and had eight Sea Service Deployment ribbons when he was killed. He will be posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.”

Captain Jason Salata of Naval Special Warfare Command issued the following statement Monday:

“The Owens’ family would like to extend their gratitude to the community for their interest in their beloved Ryan. He was a devoted father, a true professional and a wonderful husband.  While they appreciate your interest, they ask for their privacy.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued the following statement after learning of the causality:

“I extend my condolences to the family and shipmates of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens.

Ryan gave his full measure for our nation, and in performing his duty, he upheld the noblest standard for military service.

The United States would not long exist were it not for the selfless commitment of such warriors.

I thank our gallant troops and their families for their dedication to protecting this nation, and I pass our respects to Ryan’s family in the most difficult time.”

President Donald Trump released this statement following news of the raid this past weekend:

“Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. The sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces, and the families they leave behind, are the backbone of the liberty we hold so dear as Americans, united in our pursuit of a safer nation and a freer world. My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member. I also pray for a quick and complete recovery for the brave service members who sustained injuries.”

Statement from U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-18th District, Dunlap):

“This weekend, Peoria lost one of our own heroes. Chief Special Warfare Operator Ryan Owens, a Peoria-native Navy Seal, gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country and lost his life in a raid against al-Qa’ida in Yemen. This remarkable man’s sacrifice is a painful reminder of the immeasurable cost of our freedom and national security, and the dark evil we face as we wage war against terrorism.  My thoughts and prayers are with his grieving family tonight. I pray that they would take comfort that his death was not in vain and that their neighbors, community, and nation join with them in mourning his death and remembering his life. We owe him much gratitude for his exceptional service to our country.”

Statement from U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-17th District, East Moline):

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Navy Seal Ryan Owens of Peoria. Chief Special Warfare Operator Owens died serving our nation in a raid against Al Qaida in Yemen and our nation owes him and his family our deep and heartfelt gratitude. America is the greatest nation in the world because of young men like Ryan who have answered the call to serve and, sadly far too often, to sacrifice on our behalf. My prayers are with Ryan’s family, friends and the entire Peoria community as we mourn this tragic loss.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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