The father of one of the 13 U.S. military personnel killed during the evacuation at the Kabul international airport personally urged President Joe Biden to “learn their stories” and not to “forget their names,” The Washington Post reported.
Mark Schmitz, along with family members of other grieving military families of some of the other victims, met with Biden on Sunday at Dover Air Force Base. Schmitz’s son, Jared, was one of those killed aiding in the evacuations.
Mark Schmitz, who was there with his ex-wife, was approached by Biden after the president had met with other families.
Biden, he said, spent more time bringing up his own son, Beau, who died six years ago, according to the newspaper.
But Schmitz did not want to talk about Beau, he wanted to discuss Jared.
He and his ex-wife took out a photo of Jared 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 said. “ ’And take some time to learn their stories.’ ”
Biden bristled, Schmitz recalled, and bluntly said: “I do know their stories.”
Jared grew up in the St. Louis area, his dad had said in an earlier radio station interview. Mark Schmitz said his son had always longed to be a Marine, The Associated Press reported.
“This was something he always wanted to do, and I never seen a young man train as hard as he did to be the best soldier he could be,” Schmitz said of his son.
As it turns out, Mark Schmitz almost did not go to meet with Biden.
He didn’t vote for Biden and blamed the president for Jared’s death, the Post said. He changed his mind about talking with the president on the morning of the meeting and decided to go.
And Schmitz said he understood how difficult it must have been for Biden to meet with the families.
“It had to be one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do,” Schmitz said. “You make some calls, here’s the aftereffect. It’s got to be difficult. I’m not saying it was easy at all. But you can’t run up and hug someone as if you had nothing to do with it. It’s not going to work that way when you’re commander in chief.”