A heartbreaking war story former Vice President Joe Biden has told on the campaign trail for years never actually happened, according to a new report in the Washington Post.
In Biden's version of the story, he traveled to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan's Kumar province while vice president at the request of a four-star general to honor an act of bravery by a Navy captain who had carried the body of his fallen soldiers out of a gorge while under fire.
By Biden's telling, the Navy captain in question still blamed himself for his colleague's death and rejected Biden's attempts to give him a Silver Star, a military award that recognizes bravery in combat.
When Biden tells the story, he recalls the captain saying, "Sir, I don't want the damn thing" and "Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died."
The Post said that according to interviews with "more than a dozen" military officials and Biden campaign staffers, "almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect" and it "appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened."
The Post's examination of the true facts found that while Biden did in fact travel to Kumar province, he did so while a U.S. Senator in 2008 and not as vice president.
The member of the armed forces who carried out the dangerous mission to retrieve his colleague's body was a 20-year old Army specialist named Kyle J. White and not a Navy captain, and also never received a Silver Star at the time. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor several years after the fact, according to the Post.
VIDEO: Kyle White reflects on battle that earned him Medal of Honor
Biden did, in fact, once give an award to a distraught and guilt-wracked Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman in Afghanistan's Wardak province, his campaign confirmed to the Post.
In an interview with the Post, Workman described feeling apprehensive about receiving a Bronze Star from Biden to honor his bravery in rushing into a vehicle engulfed in flames to try and rescue a fellow soldier and "trying to get out of it."
And during his 2008 visit to Kumar province, Biden and two other U.S. senators witnessed Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez present a Bronze Star to Spc. Miles Foltz, who did put himself directly in the line of Taliban fire to rescue a wounded soldier who ended up surviving despite being shot in the neck.
As Biden embarked on the campaign trail to support Democratic candidates including presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, he began telling a mish-mash of those three stories on the campaign trail, with the account becoming more "harrowing and less accurate" with every telling, the Post said.
Throughout his political career, Biden has frequently invoked and highlighted heart-wrenching stories about the sacrifices made by deployed members of the US armed services.
Biden's late son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, served as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Army and deployed to Iraq for a year from 2008 to 2009.
But Biden is a self-admitted gaffe machine and is known for sometimes making misstatements or exaggerating the truth to get across a larger, more significant point.
Throughout his career, Biden has relied on his ability to connect with people and make an impression wherever he goes on the campaign trail — gaffes aside.
Workman told the Post that Biden "has that look where his eyes can see into your eyes" and said "I felt like he really understood."
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