The first U.S. service member killed in Syria in the fight against ISIS was returned to the United States on Sunday evening in a dignified transfer at Delaware's Dover Air Force Base.
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Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton, 42, died near the city of Ayn Issa in northern Syria on Thursday after being injured in an improvised explosive device blast, military officials said.
When a service member is killed abroad, his or her remains are returned to the U.S at Dover Air Force Base. On arrival, there is a dignified transfer, in which an honor guard from the member's service branch carries a flag-draped container with the remains from a transport aircraft to a vehicle. The remains are taken to a mortuary, where they are turned over to the family for burial.
"I am deeply saddened by the news on this Thanksgiving Day that one of our brave service members has been killed in Syria while protecting us from the evil of ISIL," Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement on Thursday, referring to ISIS by another acronym.
"It is a painful reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face around the world to keep us safe. Please keep this service member's family, friends and teammates in your thoughts and prayers, and this Thanksgiving I hope you will join me in expressing thanks to all of our dedicated troops who selflessly protect us every day," Carter added.
Dayton was assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two, which is based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a Navy press release said. Hundreds of people with American flags lined a street in Virginia Beach as his family left for Dover Air Force Base on Sunday morning to meet the plane carrying his body.
Dayton, who joined the Navy in 1993, received 19 awards, including the Bronze Star. He was an enlisted explosive ordnance disposal warfare specialist and an enlisted surface warfare specialist, military officials said.
In October 2015, President Barack Obama directed the Pentagon to insert special operations forces in Syria to advise and assist the Syrian opposition in its battle against ISIS militants. At any time, up to 300 U.S. service members could be operating in Syria, where they are advising and assisting Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces fighting ISIS.
Dayton's death follows the death of a U.S. service member in Iraq last month; he was killed by a roadside bomb north of Mosul, where he was serving as an adviser to Iraqi troops.
ABC News' Paul Blake, Luis Martinez and Justin Fishel contributed to this report.