This morning all the news folks were venting about the ostensible Commander-In-Chief of our nation’s war fighters being cruelly insensitive to the wife of a slain Army sergeant. Mr. Trump today denied the account of Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), that he told the grieving widow, “He knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.”
President Sensitive immediately twitted his disregard for human decency: “Democrat Congresswoman totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”
CNN noted that he did not immediately provide the proof to back his claim.
Ms. Wilson made her stunning claim Tuesday night, saying she was present when Trump called the soldier’s widow. This morning she claimed that Mr. Trump “didn’t even know his name.”
And thus the death of one of America’s finest has become a political football.
The draft-dodging orange man’s impersonal, blasé attitude toward this soldier’s death is nothing new to veterans or their families. People often say awkward, inappropriate things about the fallen, and veterans understand their discomfort. Veterans also know that the paying of respects are often stirred more by fear of appearing rude than actually giving a shit about the recent deceased. If they really did care, Americans would take to the streets to end two generations of mercantile war.
Mr. Trump should know better. He is surrounded by generals who believe in the system and demand perfect deportment from their subordinates. Mr. Trump’s Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, who lost his own son to a landmine in Afghanistan, probably prepared for McDrumf a brief, bullet-pointed instruction on how not to appear a prick. Instead, Mr. Trump assigned responsibility for his mealy-mouthed gestures on his lack of understanding about presidential protocol.
For service members, the president is the BIG enchilada. Whatever the president wishes is for them an order that must be obeyed. There are no gray areas. The sacrosanct chain-of-command begins and ends with the Commander-In-Chief.
Conversely, young warriors who will be sent to die expect at the very least that they will be brought home with the full honors they earned. It is not something frequently discussed — in fact very infrequently. Combat is so full of pitfalls that complaining becomes an art form for cheap amusement. There are times however, when normally buoyant young people will huddle together, speaking in somber superlatives about their comrades gone.
People who haven’t endured war actually believe it resembles the movies. It doesn’t. Mr. Trump is a perfect example of that particular ignorance. Without a shred of understanding to guide him, he thinks his role as Commander-In-Chief is being the brash, we-must-drive-on-regardless-the-price kind of jerkweed.
Watch any old black-and-white war epic and see those eager young privates, youngsters really, bravely following some intellectually blinded officer charging ahead to his own noble death. The only part that is honest is the youthful appearance of the participants. Young people die because they are the only ones malleable enough to be hammered into warriors. America’s youth is being spent to buy strategic mineral and market shares in a shrinking world. Niger must have something we want.
This morning’s thin gruel was served with the image of a sobbing woman prostrate on a flag-draped coffin containing the remains of her sergeant. She is pregnant and has two children. In the coffin is the body of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson. He was 25 when he died two weeks ago. Trump didn’t notice for a long time, busy as he was with golf and insulting the world.
Johnson was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was a fabled Green Beret, one of four killed and two wounded in an ISIS ambush on Oct. 4. Being a Green Beret deserves great accolades. Instead, Johnson was left behind for two days. Then Mr. Trump ignored him for 13 days. So did the rest of the country. It didn’t become newsworthy until the soldiers’ unexplained deaths were politicized once Mr. Trump opened his uninformed, yapping pie hole.
A military spokesman said Johnson’s Special Forces unit was advising local forces in Niger on methods for dealing with terror groups. The combined forces were on a joint patrol when they were ambushed by 40-50 militants believed to be linked to the Islamic State group. Four of Niger’s soldiers also died in the attack, and two other U.S. troops were wounded.
A long, long time ago when this reporter was an 18-year warrior in a strange land, there was a song we sang with jocularity, as well as respect. Is was written by a Green Beret SSG Barry Sadler, a combat medic and part-time balladeer who reached the zenith of his brief musical career when most of the nation still admired soldiers. His song, “The Ballad Of The Green Berets,” was No. 1 in the country for five weeks in 1966 and sold 9 million singles and albums. Sadler went on to get shot in the head in Guatemala in 1988 while a mercenary training anti-Sandinista forces to fight in Nicaragua. He died at 49 on Nov. 6, 1989. His death was part of another clandestine American military adventure that failed. Even so, his song lives on, and is appropriate here:
Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America’s best
One hundred men we’ll test today
But only three win the Green Beret