Grieving families of 13 U.S. service members killed in a terror attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, had just finished meeting Sunday with President Joe Biden at Dover Air Force Base and were watching the caskets containing their loved ones come off a C-17 plane, the Washington Post reported.
Mark Schmitz — whose 20-year-old Marine son Jared was among the slain — told the Post he got angry every time he saw Biden look down at his watch.
And then Schmitz told the paper he witnessed a grieving woman go off on Biden from across the tarmac.
"She said, 'I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!' " Schmitz recalled to the Post. "I can't fault her for it. ... We all lost somebody."
What's the background?
This was far from the only criticism of Biden stemming from his meeting with grieving families at Dover Air Force Base. TheBlaze on Monday reported that the pregnant widow of another Marine killed in the terror attack left her meeting with Biden distraught after he showed "total disregard" for her husband.
Jiennah McCollum — the widow of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum — reportedly said Biden told her about his late son, Beau, and his military service and death from cancer, all of which "struck the family as scripted and shallow," according to a separate Post report.
And Schmitz's encounter with Biden was much the same.
How did Schmitz's meeting with Biden go?
He told the Post that Biden approached him and his ex-wife after speaking to all the other families — and Schmitz noted to the paper that he glared hard at the president. With that, Biden spent more time looking at his ex-wife, "repeatedly invoking his own son, Beau, who died six years ago."
More from Schmitz' account to the Post:
Schmitz did not want to hear about Beau, he wanted to talk about Jared. Eventually, the parents took out a photo to show to Biden. "I said, 'Don't you ever forget that name. Don't you ever forget that face. Don't you ever forget the names of the other 12,'" Schmitz said. "'And take some time to learn their stories.'"
Biden did not seem to like that, Schmitz recalled, and he bristled, offering a blunt response: "I do know their stories."
It was a remarkable moment of two men thrown together by history. One was a president of the United States who prides himself on connecting with just about anyone in a moment of grief, but now coming face-to-face with grief that he himself had a role in creating. The other was a proud Marine father from Missouri, awoken a few nights before at 2:40 a.m. by a military officer at his door with news that nearly made him faint.
'It just didn't seem that appropriate'
"When he just kept talking about his son so much it was just — my interest was lost in that. I was more focused on my own son than what happened with him and his son," Schmitz added to the Post. "I'm not trying to insult the president, but it just didn't seem that appropriate to spend that much time on his own son."
He also told the paper: "I think it was all him trying to say he understands grief. But when you're the one responsible for ultimately the way things went down, you kind of feel like that person should own it a little bit more. Our son is now gone. Because of a direct decision or game plan — or lack thereof — that he put in place."
More from the Post:
Despite Schmitz's disenchantment with Biden, one part of the encounter did strike him favorably. The president at one point pulled out the card he keeps in his breast pocket showing the number of American service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's something Biden has talked about for years, but now the card had an addition that reflected the new toll that Biden was responsible for. "At the end of it, it had 'Plus 13,' " Schmitz said. "I know it's just a number, but it was a simple reflective thing that he looks at. I'll give him kudos there."
Schmitz added to the paper that in terms of offering consolation, the words of military leaders who came up to him Sunday were far more healing than Biden's.
"It had to be one of the hardest things he's ever had to do," he added to paper in regard to Biden's attempt to console grieving families. "You make some calls, here's the aftereffect. It's got to be difficult. I'm not saying it was easy at all. But you can't run up and hug someone as if you had nothing to do with it. It's not going to work that way when you're commander in chief."