An article posted on radio host and Fox News host Sean Hannity’s website back in May wove a tale of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump providing over 200 stranded Marines a ride home.
It turns out that this heartwarming story was nothing more than a fairy tale.
The piece on Hannity.com, titled “200 Stranded Marines Needed A Plane Ride Home, Here’s How Donald Trump Responded,” written by someone named Lauren, discusses how over 20 Marines who had fought in the 1991 Gulf War spent around six months in Saudi Arabia. A “logistical error” left them stranded, and according to the Trump campaign, the real estate mogul brought them home through “his plane.” The Hannity website wrote, “The Trump campaign has confirmed to Hannity.com that Mr. Trump did indeed send his plane to make two trips from North Carolina to Miami, Florida to transport over 200 Gulf War Marines back home.”
“The way the story was told to us was that Mr. Trump found out about it and sent the airline down to take care of us,” Corporal Ryan Stickney told Hannity.com. “And that’s all we knew….I remember asking ‘Who is Donald Trump?’ I truly didn’t know anything about him.”
Stickney said he would like to give Trump a “thank you” for committing such a heartwarming act of kindness and smacked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for never showing that kind of generosity toward the troops.
However, The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the Hannity piece a “Four Pinocchios” rating.
Kessler found that the plane used to transport the Marines back was a Trump Shuttle plane, not Trump’s personal plane as implied by the Hannity article. And Trump doesn’t appear to have had anything to do with sending the plane to the Marines.
At the time, “Trump had put the Trump Shuttle up for sale” because he was having difficulty paying down his loans and even had an agreement in place to sell his private plane. Trump Shuttle had five extra planes as a result of a terrible deal Trump had made, so they “were contracted out to the U.S. military to ferry personnel in the United States during Operations Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991.”
Retired Lt. General Vernon J. Kondra, the man “in charge of all military airlift operations,” told Kessler that he “certainly was not aware of” Trump being at all involved in bringing those Marines home.
“It does not sound reasonable that it would happen like that,” Kondra said. “It would not fit in with how we did business. I don’t even know of how he would have known there was a need.”
“It does not sound reasonable that it would happen like that. It would not fit in with how we did business. I don’t even know of how he would have known there was a need.”
Retired Lt. General Vernon J. Kondra
Kessler concludes his piece by writing:
Despite the rumors on base, it’s clear that Trump had nothing to do with the dispatch of the jet to the troops stranded at Camp Lejeune. The aircraft that ferried the troops was part of the Trump Shuttle fleet, at a time when Trump barely had control over the airline and was frantically trying to negotiate deals with bankers to prevent the collapse of his business empire.
Trump Shuttle had a contract with the military, and this flight home was part of that contract. Simple as that.
Sean Hannity needs to prominently correct this article. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, earns Four Pinocchios for confirming a story that is easily debunked.
Snopes had similar findings to Kessler.
Most likely, Stickney mistakenly associated the Trump Shuttle plane with Trump himself. Hannity’s team should have done a more thorough job of vetting the story, and the Trump campaign should not have told the site that he sent “his plane” to pick up the Marines.