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Trump’s Claim That Most Presidents Don’t Call The Families Of Fallen Troops Is Untrue
While addressing the press at the White House Rose Garden on Oct. 16, President Trump inaccurately claimed that he is one of the few commanders-in-chief who calls the families of fallen service members to offer condolences.
“The traditional way, if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls,” Trump said. “A lot of them didn't make calls. I like to call when it's appropriate, when I think I'm able to do it.”
Trump claims that Obama and “most” other presidents “didn’t make calls” to families of fallen American soldiers. pic.twitter.com/TQJtkbyc1s
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 16, 2017
When pressed by reporters, Trump quickly walked back his claim.
“I was told he didn't often and a lot of Presidents don't,” Trump said. “They write letters … I do a combination of both. Sometimes it's a very difficult thing to do, but I do a combination of both. President Obama I think probably did sometimes and maybe sometimes he didn't. I don't know. That's what I was told.”
Pressed on this claim, Trump says: "I don't know if he did... I was told that he didn't often. A lot of presidents don't." pic.twitter.com/0f2bUxsaF2
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 16, 2017
Trump’s claim was in response to questions about his silence following an Oct. 4 daylight ambush in a rugged border region of Niger that left four U.S. Army soldiers killed — the deadliest single attack on U.S. combat troops since Trump took office, according to New York Daily News.
In response to a growing chorus of questions at the press conference, Trump added that he was “going to call” the parents and families of the fallen soldiers, and that he wrote “personal letters” that had been sent, or would be sent.
“The toughest calls I have to make, are the calls where this happens — soldiers are killed,” Trump said. “It’s a very difficult thing. It gets to a point where you make four or five in a day, and that’s a very very tough day.”
12 days after it was announced soldiers were killed in Niger, Trump says "I will at some point during the period of time call the parents." pic.twitter.com/vPh85JNF4x
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 16, 2017
Trump’s suggestion that his predecessors rarely called the families of the fallen, quickly drew the ire of many on social media, including Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former White House deputy chief of staff in the Obama administration.
that's a fucking lie. to say president obama (or past presidents) didn't call the family members of soldiers KIA - he's a deranged animal.
— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) October 16, 2017
In addition to making phone calls, and writing letters, Trump’s most immediate predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, frequently met with families of fallen troops to offer their condolences.
While in office, and between numerous trips to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Obama made two high-profile visits to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness dignified transfers — the arrival of fallen troops — rendering respects to 15 fallen service members in 2009, according to the New York Daily News. Obama returned two years later to meet with 250 relatives of 30 service members killed in Afghanistan when their helicopter was shot down.
President Bush, for his part, wrote thousands of letters, made calls, and met with more than 500 families of servicemen and women killed in action, often privately, according to a December 2008 report by the Washington Times. And those face-to-face meetings with parents mourning the loss of a child were rarely easy.
In August 2005, President George Bush was approached by Cindy Sheehan, a gold star mother, at the president’s Prairie Chapel Ranch, near Crawford, Texas. There, Sheehan demanded an explanation for the death of her son, Casey, telling members of Veterans for Peace that she intended to ask the president: "I'm gonna say, ‘And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for.’ And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy I'm gonna say, bullshit. You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich.”
Rather than push back, as Trump did to gold star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan after the pair levied criticisms at the then-nominee in July 2016, Bush accepted Sheehan’s comments, holding an impromptu press conference afterward saying “I grieve for every death,” Bush said. “It breaks my heart to think about a family weeping over the loss of a loved one.”
Given Trump’s propensity for social media — and his recent silence on there, too — even a tweet would do.
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.