Chinese spy balloon hit
The balloon disintegrates and the solar cells and surveillance equipment fall away after being struck by an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile. REUTERS/Randall Hill

First Lady Jill Biden told an Oceanside audience that she was proud of the U.S. military Saturday after an Air Force jet shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast.

“I felt such a sense of pride about the effort and that our military shot down the balloon, how coordinated it was, how thoughtful it was,” Biden said, “that it was decided to wait until it was over water so that civilians weren’t affected.”

“I hope that most Americans — when they watch that — they really think about our military,” she said. “Joe and I think about them every day, we pray for them in our prayers at dinner.”

An F-22 Raptor stealth fighter launched a single AIM-9X Sidewinder missile just before noon Pacific time to destroy the balloon.

An operation was underway to recover debris from the spy craft, which had been floating above 60,000 feet and traversed sensitive military sites across North America, U.S. officials said.

The First Lady made the comments while visiting the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic to participate in a roundtable discussion with military family members, clinic staff, and personnel from Camp Pendleton.

The visit was part of her Joining Forces initiative, which supports military and veteran families, caregivers and survivors with a focus on economic opportunity for military spouses, military child education and health and well-being.

On Friday, she visited a clinic in Logan Heights, boarded the littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords, and hosted a dinner for the warship’s crew and their families.

After leaving Oceanside, she departed for the Los Angeles area, where she was scheduled to be a presenter at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.

City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.