A vivid war story that former Vice President Joe Biden has been sharing with supporters on the campaign trail is actually a mash-up of three different events that the former veep has jumbled into one, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
Biden has told supporters that while he was vice president, a four-star general invited him to travel to a province in Afghanistan called Kunar to recognize the bravery of a Navy captain. According to Biden’s version of the story, the captain had rappelled himself down a 60-foot cliff to recover the body of another American soldier. Biden was going to pin a Silver Star on the soldier, but the Navy captain rejected him.
“He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!’” Biden said at a recent campaign event in New Hampshire. “’Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’ That is God’s truth, my word as a Biden.”
According to the Post’s analysis and reporting, nearly every detail — the time period, the location, the act itself, the type of medal, the branch of the military and the soldier’s rank — are all inaccurate.
Biden was actually a senator when he visited Afghanistan in 2008, not vice president. The man who performed the risky recovery was a young Army specialist, not a high-ranking Navy captain. The soldier was given the Medal of Honor by President Obama six years later, not the Silver Star and not by Biden.
As the Post notes, Biden did pin a medal on a soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn’t think he deserved it while he was in Afghanistan.
In an interview with the Post and Courier in South Carolina on Thursday, Biden said the “essence” of the story he told is true and said he didn’t “understand what they’re talking about,” regarding the Washington Post’s piece.
“The central point is it was absolutely accurate what I said,” Biden told the Post and Courier. “He refused the medal. I put it on him, he said, ‘Don’t do that to me, sir. He died. He died.’”
“That’s the beginning, middle and end. The rest of you guys can take it and do what you want with it,” he added.