The US President Barack Obama has met a plane bringing home the bodies of 18 American soldiers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed in Afghanistan this week.
The previously unannounced late-night trip to a military base in Delaware came as the president weighs whether to send more troops to Afghanistan to fight an insurgency that has reached its fiercest level in eight years.
This month has been the deadliest for US forces since the start of the war eight years ago.
Polls show Americans are increasingly weary of the war and there is scepticism, including among Mr Obama's fellow Democrats, over sending more troops.
A final decision is expected within weeks.