- Mark Schmitz, whose son was killed in Kabul last week, described his testy encounter with Biden.
- “Take time to learn their stories,” Schmitz told Biden of those killed, per The Washington Post.
- Thirteen US service members were among 100+ killed in the attack.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The father of a US Marine who was killed in the Kabul airport attack last week said he challenged President Joe Biden to “learn the stories” of the victims at the ceremony where the remains of service members were returned to the US.
Mark Schmitz’s son, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, was one of 13 US service members helping to evacuate US citizens and Afghans killed on August 27 in what the Pentagon has said was a suicide bombing by an ISIS affiliate.
The attack killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members.
On Sunday, the remains of the service members were returned to the US in a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, which Biden attended.
Afterward, Biden met with the grieving families in private, including Mark Schmitz.
He told The Washington Post that he initially decided he didn’t want to talk to Biden, whose mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal he has blamed for his son’s death, but then changed his mind.
Schmitz said that Biden spoke of losing his son, Beau Biden, an Iraq veteran, to cancer, six years ago. But Schmitz said he wanted to talk about Jared instead, and he and his wife took out a photo of their son to show the president.
“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,’ ” Schmitz told The Post. “‘And take some time to learn their stories.'”
But according to Schmitz, the president didn’t like that and bristled, replying: “I do know their stories.”
Schmitz also relayed details of the encounter with Biden in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night.
“It didn’t go well. He talked a bit more about his own son then he did my son, and that didn’t sit well with me,” Schmitz said.
Biden has said that his personal experience of tragedy, with his wife and daughter killed in a car accident in 1972 and adult son dying of cancer decades later, allows him to understand the pain of those grieving loss of loved ones from the COVID-19 pandemic, or of military families.
But he has received widespread criticism for his handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which has led to the Afghan government collapsing and the Taliban seizing power weeks after the US withdrew most of its military in early July.
Thousands clamored to escape the country on flights from Kabul, where the US was left to rely on a security perimeter set up around the airport by the Taliban to screen against terror attacks.
In an interview with The Daily Beast last week, Steve Nikoui, whose son US Marine Kareem Nikoui was also killed in last week’s attack, expressed anger at Biden.
“They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security,” said Nikoui. “I blame my own military leaders … Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.”