First Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was no loser, Mr. Trump.
He was shot and killed by an enemy sniper during the Vietnam War and I forced marched my platoon to come to his aid only to find out we got to him too late to help.
He was no “sucker,” having enlisted the same year that you miraculously developed bone spurs on one of your feet, getting your fifth deferment to keep you out of the military and any chance of being in harm’s way. It was the same year I was drafted and later commissioned to lead a bunch of other young men into battle.
I was livid when I saw the news report of you disparaging the men who were killed in combat. An Atlantic Magazine’s journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, citing multiple anonymous sources who had firsthand knowledge of the conversations, reported Thursday on the comments. They were confirmed later by another reporter and responded to by Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president.
Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was the pride of Staunton, Va., and his remains are interred with his mother and father in a family plot where I laid a wreath, saluted him, yelled at God for taking him away and cried my heart out.
Now I learned that you would not even honor the hundreds of US Marines who gave their lives during “The War to End All Wars” in France. You refused to go to a cemetery near the site of the Battle of Belleau, blaming the rain for the cancellation. But Goldberg said that you rejected the idea because you feared your “hair would become disheveled in the rain,” and because you “did not believe it important to honor American war dead.”
“In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.
Goldberg said later in the article that Trump had also referred separately to John McCain, the late senator and war veteran, as a “fucking loser.”
Veterans and the families of veterans will make you pay a price for these cowardly assertions. You, Mr. President are not even worthy enough to tie the laces of their combat boots.