President Joe Biden watches as an Army carry team moves the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of U.S. Army Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Ga., during a casualty return at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Friday, Feb. 2, 2024. Rivers was killed in a drone attack in Jordan on Jan. 28. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden participated in a solemn ceremony at Dover Air Force Base as the remains of three American service members, killed in a recent drone attack in Jordan, were returned. The dignified transfer included a prayer for “grace and mercy,” with the Bidens standing in silence as the flag-draped transfer cases were moved from a military transport aircraft to a waiting van.

The fallen soldiers, Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Breonna Moffett, and Sgt. Kennedy Sanders, were members of the U.S. Army’s 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, based at Fort Moore, Georgia. The Bidens met privately with the families before the dignified transfer, offering condolences and support.

The deaths marked the first U.S. fatalities attributed to Iran-backed militia groups, leading to a subsequent U.S. military response with retaliatory airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. In a statement, President Biden emphasized that the U.S. response would continue “at times and places of our choosing.”

The soldiers, each posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant, were remembered for their bravery, duty, and commitment to the nation. The dignified transfer, a somber ritual, became a rare occurrence in recent years as U.S. involvement in overseas conflicts decreased.

This marks the second dignified transfer attended by President Biden, the first being in August 2021 for the service members killed in the Kabul suicide bombing. The recent ceremony underscores the ongoing challenges faced by the U.S. military in the Middle East and the sacrifice of those serving in the line of duty.