Va. Beach SEAL killed by enemy gunfire in Yemen was devoted father and wonderful husband

Posted at 10:41 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 11:00:50-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A Navy SEAL based out of Virginia Beach died during a raid against Al-Qaeda on Sunday.

William “Ryan” Owens

William “Ryan” Owens spent his adult life fighting and protecting for our country.

He enlisted in 1998 and was a decorated Navy SEAL.

The Illinois native was on a raid targeting al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula compound.

Three others were injured during the raid when an Osprey MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft had a hard landing.

The aircraft was then intentionally destroyed.

"Ryan was an exceptional SEAL - an experienced warrior and a highly respected teammate who served silently, nobly and bravely through several combat deployments. His family has sacrificed much for his service. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. His death reminds us all of the constant dangers of our profession, and the very real threats to our nation. For NSW, Ryan's legacy strengthens our own resolve and commitment to this crucial fight. We hope his family can find comfort in the love and support of Family, Friends and Teammates," said Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski, Commander Naval Special Warfare Command.

"These are the highest trained warriors on the planet and they live here in Virginia Beach but when you lose somebody, a hero like this it's very upsetting, very tragic, very tragic for him and his family and the whole community," said retired Navy SEAL Don Mann, "He volunteered to be in the military and then he volunteered to go through the toughest training in the military, Navy SEAL training and then he got selected to go to SEAL Team Six and so he didn't do anything the easy way, everything he did was the hard way."

According to the Department of Defense, the recent raid generated valuable intelligence.

They estimated 14 Al-Qaeda terrorists were killed in the raid, some women fighters and say the group has been linked the massacre in France in January of 2015 and Boston Marathon bombing in 2014.

“They came back with a lot of intelligence and they'll try to use that to figure out what's going on with future raids,” said Mann.

The military sent News 3 a statement from the Owens' family:

"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."

President Donald Trump released a statement Sunday about the raid:

"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."

"It's just a real real shame. I feel terrible for his family, the community," said Mann, "The last time I went to the command, I couldn't believe all the names on the wall.  I can't believe how many Seals have been lost."