Biden Under Scrutiny For Treatment Of Gold Star Families

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House August 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden delivered remarks on the administration’s efforts to strengthen American leadership on clean cars and trucks. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House August 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

OAN’s Roy Francis
12:20 PM – Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Renewed scrutiny has been cast on the president and his administration about how they have treated the families of the 13 service members who were killed in the disastrous military withdrawal from Afghanistan.


The Gold Star families gave emotional testimonies this past week, and called out President Joe Biden and several top cabinet members by name. The families joined others who had also demanded answers and accountability.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) held a congressional forum on Monday with the families and invited them to speak their minds, how they feel about everything that has happened and how they had been treated since they suffered the losses of their loved ones.

Cheryl Rex, the mother of Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola said that she has not had any correspondence from the president and that her son has not been honored so far, “or his name spoken by this commander-in-chief or his administration on what I feel is because of their failures and poor planning to exit our troops from Afghanistan.”

Biden had used the occasion of her son’s death to speak, and lie, about his own son’s death.

“We lost our son as well and brought him home in a flag-draped coffin,” the president reportedly said, even though his son had died of cancer in the United States after he had finished his service in Iraq.

The administration had also lied to another mother of a service member. Gold Star mom, Kelly Barnett, said that the Biden Administration had told her that her son, Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, had been killed instantaneously during the bombing at Abbey gate in Afghanistan. However, it was revealed that he had in fact lived for some time afterward.

“We were told lies, given incomplete reports, incorrect reports, total disrespect,” Barnett said. “I was told to my face he died on impact. That’s not true. The only reason that I know this is because witnesses told me the truth. I was lied to and basically told to shut up.”

On top of the administration lying and mistreating the families of those who were killed that day, the White House has yet to recognize any of the seven service members who survived the bombing only to tragically take their own lives later on.

According to Issa, the White House has not yet returned the personal items of many of the service members who were killed that day to their families. The Biden administration has also seemingly stonewalled the inquiries of those families.

Critics of the withdrawal, along with Gold Star families, have called for accountability and the firing of officials who were in charge of the disastrous withdrawal, such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloy Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

However, the President and his cabinet have maintained that the operation was an “extraordinary success,” despite the suicide bombing that had claimed 183 lives, including the 13 U.S. service members, and the operation requiring thousands of additional U.S. troops on the ground, leaving behind hundred of U.S. citizens, and tens of thousands of Afghan allies even though the president had promised to “get them all out.”

After the bombing at Abbey gate, the president had met with the family members of the 13 service members who lost their lives in Dover, Delaware. Several of the family members criticized the president for repeatedly speaking about his son, Beau, and repeatedly checking his watch during the dignified transfer of the deceased’s remains.

“That didn’t happen just once. It happened on every single one that came out of that airplane. It happened on every single one of them. They would release the salute, and he would look down at his watch on every last one, all 13, he looked down at his watch,” Darin Hoover, father of Utah Marine Darin Taylor Hoover Jr. said on Fox News’ “Hannity.”

One of the sisters of Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum who had met with the president in Delaware, along with McCollum’s pregnant widow, said that he would not look the family in the eye and, again, spent the whole time speaking about Beau.

“I was able to stand about 15 seconds of his fake, scripted apology and I had to walk away,” Cheyenne McCollum told Fox News.

After the testimony of the Gold Star families on Monday, it was revealed that ABC, CBS, and NBC all had ignored the hearing and did not broadcast it according to the Media Research Center (MRC).

“All three evening news networks thumbed their nose at the Gold Star families by ignoring the hearing,” news analyst Kevin Tober said. “Instead of covering the hearing, ABC’s ‘World News Tonight,’ ‘CBS Evening News,’ and ‘NBC Nightly News’ wasted airtime by covering the Mega Millions lottery numbers (ABC), the anti-American women’s soccer team losing in the World Cup (CBS), and another update on an investigation into a plastic plant fire (NBC).”

The Department of Defense released a statement after the hearing expressing their “deepest condolences.”

“The Department of Defense expresses our deepest condolences to the Gold Star Families who lost loved ones during the tragic bombing at Abbey Gate,” the statement read. “We are forever grateful for their service, sacrifice, and committed efforts during the evacuation operations. We also commend the historic and monumental efforts of all our service men and women who served honorably during the withdrawal period from Afghanistan.”

The 13 service who had lost their lives were Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, assigned to 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California, assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah. His military occupational specialty was 0369, infantry unit leader.

Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California, a rifleman.

Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska, a rifleman.

Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana, a rifleman.

Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas, a rifleman.

Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri, a rifleman.

Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming, a rifleman.

Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, a rifleman.

Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California.

Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio, assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California.

Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee. Knauss was assigned to 9th PSYOP Battalion, 8th PSYOP Group, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

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