Grieving families who lost loved ones to the Kabul terrorist attack confronted President Joe Biden over their deaths, The Washington Post reported.
Biden met with the families at Dover Air Force Base on Sunday. Mark Schmitz and his ex-wife, whose son Jared died in the attack, approached Biden to show him a photo of their son, The Washington Post reported.
“I said, ‘Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12,’” he told The Washington Post. “‘And take some time to learn their stories,’” Schmitz said
Biden responded briefly, “I do know their stories,” Schmitz said.
The president spoke about his own son, Beau, who served in Iraq and died of brain cancer in 2015, The Washington Post reported. “When he just kept talking about his son so much it was just — my interest was lost in that. I was more focused on my own son than what happened with him and his son,” Schmitz said.
“I’m not trying to insult the president, but it just didn’t seem that appropriate to spend that much time on his own son,” he added.
Some families chose not to meet with Biden, The Washington Post reported. The widow of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, Jiennah, was the only member of the McCollum family who met with the president.
One of McCollum’s sisters, Roice, told The Washington Post that Jiennah, who married Rylee six months ago and is due to give birth soon, wanted “to look him in the eye and hear him.” She said Jiennah thought Biden showed a “total disregard to the loss of our Marine — our brother, son, husband and father.”
“He cannot possibly understand,” Roice said. “My dad and I did not want to speak to him. You cannot kneel on our flag and pretend you care about our troops. You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry. This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands. The thousands of Afghans who will suffer and be tortured is a direct result of his incompetence.”
One woman shouted in Biden’s direction across the tarmac as the grieving families boarded a bus to leave, Schmitz recalled. “‘I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!’” Schmitz recalled her saying.
Schmitz didn’t want to make his meeting with Biden political, he told The Washington Post. In fact, he said that he appreciated seeing the president’s breast pocket card which shows the number of American service members who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“At the end of it, it had ‘Plus 13.’ I know it’s just a number, but it was a simple reflective thing that he looks at. I’ll give him kudos there,” Schmitz said.
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Sebastian Hughes on August 31, 2021