President Barack Obama traveled overnight to receive the remains of fallen soldiers whose bodies were returning from Afghanistan.

Obama made a midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the first stop back in the U.S. for soldiers who are killed in combat, where he awaited an Air Force C-17 transporting the remains of 15 U.S. soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Agency agents killed in Afghanistan this week.

Obama met at a chapel on-base with family members of the fallen Americans, and boarded the C-17 for a short ceremony to witness the "dignified transfer" of the soldiers' remains.

The previously unannounced trip comes as the president mulls how to proceed with strategy in Afghanistan, and on the heels of the deadliest month in that country.

Joining the president for the transfer were Attorney General Eric Holder, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, the administrator of the DEA, as well as several other military officials.

Obama stayed at the base until 4:05 in the morning, according to a pool report, and arrived back at the White House at 4:45 a.m.