By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to nearby Dover Air Force Base Monday evening to attend a transfer ceremony for two American soldiers killed days ago in Afghanistan.
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The two U.S. Army soldiers were identified by the Pentagon earlier as Sergeant Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio and Sergeant Antonio Rey Rodriguez, also 28, of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Six other U.S. Army troops were wounded.
All were shot by an Afghan soldier in what is known as a “blue-on-green” attack — when a supposed ally fires upon American troops.
As the bodies were offloaded from a transport aircraft, President Trump saluted and Vice President Mike Pence placed his hand over his heart, CBS News reported.
Transfer cases containing the remains were carried out of a plane and transferred to a transport vehicle, the network said.
“Reporters were told it was the first time since 2009 that a president and vice president had attended such a transfer together,” the network noted, adding:
National security adviser Robert O’Brien told reporters traveling with Mr. Trump on Air Force One that the president wrapped up a reelection campaign rally in New Hampshire a bit early so he could visit with the families of the soldiers. O’Brien described such moments as “probably the toughest thing he does as president,” along with visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“These are terrible sacrifices for the families. And these guys are heroes, they’re real warriors and did a great job for the American people,” O’Brien said. “These are tough times. It’s tough for the president but he thinks it’s important to be there for the families and recognize them.”
Overnight Tuesday, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Just returned to White House from Dover. Very sad!”
The latest casualties come as the Trump administration continues to find a way out of Afghanistan. CBS News reports that Washington’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, “has been meeting with Taliban representatives in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar in recent weeks. He’s seeking an agreement to reduce hostilities to get a peace deal signed that would start negotiations among Afghans on both sides of the conflict.”
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