A Gold Star father, whose son was one of the 13 U.S. Marines killed during the Taliban's attack at the Kabul airport, has revealed that his meeting with President Joe Biden had been unpleasant.
In an interview with Fox News, Mark Schmitz from Missouri said that his son's commander-in-chief appeared like he didn't want to be around the soldier's family. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden came to the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as the bodies of the fallen soldiers arrived.
Initially, the father didn't plan to meet the President face-to-face but felt he owed it to his son, 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, to speak up about how Biden handled the pull out of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. However, Schmitz said that the president "talked a bit more about his own son than he did my son," adding that Biden checked his watch at least four times during the solemn ceremony dedicated to the fallen heroes.
Schmitz further said that he felt disrespected by the President's actions. In another interview with The Washington Post, Schmitz said that other military leaders were able to appease the Gold Star family members more than the commander-in-chief.
As he spoke with the President during a private meeting with the families of the fallen, Schmitz told the President that America should never forget the names of their sons. The father also said that Biden should take time to get to know each of the stories of the 13 soldiers, but Schmitz reportedly received a blunt rebuff.
Steve Nikoui, father of 20-year-old Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, said that the President "turned his back" on his soldiers. Another dad, Darin Hoover from Utah, told the press that he didn't want to meet with the President.
The father said that his family could not deal with the loss, especially when other military members told them that this was a preventable incident. His 31-year-old son, Marine Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover Jr., was also killed in the blast.
At the height of the chaos at the Kabul airport on August 15, while the U.S. troops were helping with the evacuation, a suicide bomber detonated tons of explosives that also killed 160 civilians. Hoover believes that his son was at the frontlines of the blast because the staff sergeant was a born leader.
Biden Said He Understood the Personal Tragedy
Biden previously said that he has familiarity with tragedy and loss after the death of his first wife and daughter in 1972. He also lost his son, Beau Biden, the former Delaware State Attorney General, due to cancer.
However, Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized the President for the Kabul attack. In his speech to the nation, Biden defended the withdrawal as long overdue and the only option instead of escalating the war in the region. Meanwhile, hundreds more Americans, including soldiers, have not yet been evacuated. The President said that rescue efforts would continue.
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