2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden told a story of how he pinned a medal on a distraught soldier overseas, but the former vice president appears to have compiled three different war stories and mixed up a variety of details.
76-year-old Biden told 400 people assembled in a Hanover, New Hampshire college meeting hall about how a general asked then-Vice President Biden to travel to Kunar province in Afghanistan to give an award to a Navy captain, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
But Biden’s story is an inaccurate compilation of at least three war stories, WaPo reported. The publication based this claim on interviews with dozens of troops, commanders, and Biden officials.
Biden said that the Navy captain had rescued one of his comrades by scaling a 60-foot ravine and carrying his comrade out on his back while under fire.
The general asked Biden to award the service member with a Silver Star, Biden said, but the former vice president explained that the hero felt like a failure. (RELATED: Biden Praises Segregationists Less Than 24 Hours After Promising Not To)
“He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!’” Biden recounted, according to WaPo. “‘Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’”
“This is the God’s truth,” Biden told the audience. “My word as a Biden.”
Biden’s three-minute story inaccurately detailed not only the time period, location, and action, but also the type of medal, and the service member’s military branch and rank — and Biden‘s own role in the ceremony.
Biden did not visit Kunar province as vice president, but he did visit in 2008 as a U.S. senator.
The soldier Biden mentioned was 20-year-old Army specialist Kyle J. White. However, former President Barack Obama and not Biden pinned a Medal of Honor, rather than a Silver Star, on White. And Obama pinned the metal on White at a White House ceremony that took place six years after Biden’s visit to Kunar.
Biden did pin a medal of honor to Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, a soldier who did not believe he deserved the award according to WaPo, in Afghanistan in January 2011.
“In Afghanistan, he was moved by Staff Sgt. Workman’s valor and selflessness, which is emblematic of the duty and sacrifice of the 9/11 generation of veterans who have given so much across countless deployments,” said Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates in a statement.
Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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