Ohio Vets Blast Trump for Criticizing Khans

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Military veterans from Ohio took aim at Donald Trump over his comments about the family of a U.S. Army captain killed in action in Iraq, even as the Republican presidential nominee continued his feud with the Muslim soldier’s family and was criticized by the party’s 2008 standard-bearer.

“Words do matter,” state Rep. John Boccieri said on a conference call hosted by the campaign of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president. Boccieri, an Iraq veteran who served in the Air Force and now is in the Air Force Reserve, was among veterans on the call.

The call followed Trump’s tweets Monday morning, as Khizr and Ghazala Khan continued to speak out against him and his remarks over the weekend.

“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same — Nice!” Trump said via Twitter.

“This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM [Trump’s emphasis] and the U.S. Get smart!” he also tweeted.

The couple gained national attention when Khizr Khan, his wife at his side, during the final night of the Democratic National Convention as he blasted Trump for his proposed temporary ban of Muslim immigrants and suggested Trump had never read the U.S. Constitution. The Khans’ son, an Army captain, died saving his fellow soldiers in Iraq in 2004.

“You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khizr Khan said in remarks directed at Trump.

Trump has shown “a lack of regard for the type of sacrifices” that men and women serving in the armed forces make and should apologize to the Khan family, the military and the nation, Boccieri, D-59 Poland, said. To attack the Khan family is “very indicative of the type of presidency” that he would run, the Democrat said.

“I don’t know what the floor is for Trump,” he stated during a phone interview later yesterday.

“It’s one thing to go after political opponents and to suggest that politicians are posturing for a particular issue” but another to “go after a Gold Star family,” he said. “This crosses several lines of decency.”

During the conference call, former state Rep. Connie Pillich, who served eight years active duty in the Air Force, including during Operation Desert Storm, also called on Trump to apologize immediately to the Khans.

“When U.S. soldiers die in war, the role of the commander-in-chief is to mourn with the families. It’s not to insult the families,” she said. If this is his response to families, Trump “cannot be trusted to send our sons and daughters” into battle.

Another Iraq veteran, Robert Kearney, who joined the Army in 1996, said Clinton would be the first Democrat to get his vote as president after a lifetime of supporting Republicans. “I am afraid of the fearmongering that Donald Trump is pursuing,” he remarked.

Monday morning, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the GOP’s 2008 nominee, issued a statement criticizing Trump’s remarks. Last year, Trump disparaged McCain, a Vietnam veteran and prisoner of war.

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement,” McCain said.

Capt. Khan’s death “was a shining example of the valor and bravery inculcated into our military. When a suicide bomber accelerated his vehicle toward a facility with hundreds of American soldiers, Captain Khan ordered his subordinates away from the danger,” he said. “Then he ran toward it.” Khan, “through his selfless action and sacrifice, saved the lives of hundreds of his brothers and sisters,” he added.

Trump’s remarks also drew fire from the new national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its auxiliary, Brian Duffy.

“Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression,” said Duffy, of Louisville, Ky., who was elected July 27 to lead the war veterans organization.

“There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed,” he said. “Giving one’s life to the nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard.”

Pictured: Khizr and Ghazala Khan at the Democratic National Convention.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.