Last Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden told a rapt audience in New Hampshire a poignant story revolving around a Navy captain who rappelled down a 60-foot ravine to rescue a fallen comrade, but rebuffed Biden's attempt to pin a Silver Star on his chest because his daring actions to save the soldier came too late.
There was one problem: Biden made the story up.
The Washington Post reports that Biden told the story of a four-star general who asked Biden, when he was vice-president, to take a dangerous trip to Kunar province in Afghanistan so he could put the Silver Star on the chest of a Navy captain who had rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire and brought back the body of an American soldier.
Biden said he was warned about the danger of the trip but bravely insisted, "We can lose a vice president. We can't lose many more of these kids. Not a joke." Biden claimed that when he attempted to pin the medal on the Navy captain, the soldier responded, "Sir, I don't want the damn thing! Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!"
Addressing the silent crowd, Biden concluded, "This is the God's truth. My word as a Biden."
The Post succinctly commented, "Except almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect." The Post delineated how Biden conflated different stories in order to create his whopper, crediting interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials to help them discover the truth.
The Post wrote:
Biden visited Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described was a 20-year-old Army specialist, not a much older Navy captain. And that soldier, Kyle J. White, never had a Silver Star, or any other medal, pinned on him by Biden. At a White House ceremony six years after Biden's visit, White stood at attention as President Barack Obama placed a Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, around his neck.
The Post concluded, "The upshot: In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony."
National Review pointed out something else:
Biden also employed the story of the fictitious Navy captain during a World War II memorial event in Australia in 2016. In that telling, the captain "climbed down about 200 feet" into a ravine in Afghanistan to rescue a comrade. Then, while stumping for Hillary Clinton that same year, Biden told the story of an Army captain who pulled a soldier out of a burning vehicle in Iraq but resisted the resulting medal. "He died. He died, Mr. Vice President," Biden recalled the officer saying. "I don’t want the medal."