A Washington Post investigation found that a war story frequently told by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on the campaign trail was false in nearly every detail.
At a Friday New Hampshire rally, Biden told the crowd that as vice president he had once been asked to travel to the dangerous Kunar province in Afghanistan to pin the Silver Star on a war hero who had rappelled down a steep wall to retrieve the body of a fallen comrade. Biden said he ignored others who warned him not to go. "We can lose a vice president," he remembered saying. "We can't lose many more of these kids."
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In Biden's telling, as he pinned the medal to the hero's chest, the tearful Navy captain told Biden that he didn't deserve the medal because he hadn't saved his friend in time. "This is the God's truth," he told the audience. "My word as a Biden."
Except it wasn't. "Almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect," the Post reported Thursday. "Based on interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened."
Biden did visit Kunar in 2008, but as a senator, not vice president. There, he watched as a major general pinned the Bronze Star to a soldier who successfully saved the life of an injured comrade during a Taliban ambush. The honored soldier, Miles Foltz, was a young Army specialist who pulled his comrade behind a rock, not an old Navy captain who rappelled down a wall.
"The upshot: In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony," the Post writes.
Biden started exaggerating the details of his Afghanistan visit as early as 2016, when the soldier first became a Navy captain who "climbed down about 200 feet" and received a Silver Star, and Biden became the one who pinned the medal. Later that year, he said the incident occurred in Iraq, and that the captain pulled his comrade from a burning Humvee.
"Three weeks later, stumping for Jason Kander, an Afghan War veteran running for the Senate in Missouri, Biden told both the Iraq and Afghanistan versions back to back in a single speech," the Post notes.
There is one element of truth to Biden's frequent stories: In 2011, he pinned a Bronze Star on Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who failed to save his friend from a vehicle fire and told the vice president he didn't deserve the medal. That version of Biden's story, the Post notes, "is one he rarely tells."