(NewsNation Now) — Mark Schmitz had a choice to make. He was at Dover Air Force Base for the dignified transfer ceremony for the 13 U.S. troops killed in the Kabul airport attack. He was there to honor his late son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20, who was among the victims.
President Joe Biden was coming his way.
Schmitz wasn’t sure he wanted to say anything to the president, but he believed his son would want him to.
“All I could think to do is say my son’s name,” Schmitz said on “The Donlon Report.” He said he told the president, “That’s Jared Schmitz. Jared Schmitz. Don’t ever forget that name. Don’t ever forget the name of all 12 others that perished that day, and take the time to learn their stories.”
Schmitz said Biden told him he knew their stories, but Schmitz is skeptical. “There’s no way because I don’t even know the other 12 stories completely,” he said.
In his remarks Tuesday, Biden said part of the reason for pulling out of Afghanistan was to reduce the danger to American troops.
“A lot of our veterans and their families have gone through hell,” Biden said. “I don’t think enough people understand how much we’ve asked for the 1% of this country who put that uniform on, willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our nation.”
Mark said Jared was focused on being a Marine and applied a level of effort Mark hadn’t seen before.
“But by the time he graduated, he was 18 and went straight to the corps,” Schmitz said. “And we were proud to be able to be there in October when he graduated. And he was just anxious to serve his country and help people. That’s what he was all about.”
There’s been bipartisan criticism of the U.S. withdrawal, which Schmitz said he agreed with in theory but not in its execution. He learned of Jared’s deployment in Afghanistan just days before he died.
“I told him, I said, ‘This is what you’ve been training for.’ And, he said, ‘Shut up, Dad, I know I know what I’m doing. I’ve got my brothers and sisters. They’ve got my back. I’ve got theirs. We’ve got this.'”
Mark learned of the explosion and was first relieved because Jared had told him he would not be stationed at the gate, but two Marines showed up at his home at 2:40 a.m. to deliver the news.
“I think if things were handled differently, my son and the other 12 would still be here as well.”
- Two-headed snake given to Audubon Zoo by Nicolas Cage dies
- Chauvin pleads not guilty to violating teen’s civil rights
- LIVE: $3.5 trillion plan aims to ‘level playing field’ for middle-class families, Biden says
- Hollywood’s nicest ‘bad guy,’ Danny Trejo, reflects on his rise from prison to stardom
- ‘Don’t open the door’: Florida family catches men on video posing as utility crew