The father of a U.S. Marine killed at Kabul airport slammed President Joe Biden on Friday as ‘insensitive’ and ‘tone deaf’ for choosing the one-year anniversary of the suicide attack to film a segment with TV comedian Jay Leno.
Earlier the president issued a statement praising the 13 U.S. service members who died in the bombing, but then left the White House to spend time with the TV star and car aficionado.
In contrast, Darin Hoover spent the day at Arlington National Cemetery remembering his son Taylor, a Marine staff sergeant, who died on August 26, 2021.
After joining two other families to lay wreaths, he expressed outrage at Biden’s decision.
‘He is tone deaf and insensitive. It’s ridiculous,’ he told DailyMail.com.
As Biden left the White House, he was asked whether he had spoken to any of the 13 families on the anniversary.
‘Not today, but I have spoken in the past,’ he replied.
For Hoover, that is not good enough.
‘I don’t expect the world to stand still to celebrate our children but at least do something,’ he said.
‘We went to Arlington and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Why can’t he do something in memory of all 13.
‘It needs to be reflected on and remembered.’
Biden left the White House for the short helicopter flight to Beltsville, Maryland, in the early afternoon where he was due to film a segment with the host of Jay Leno’s Garage.
Biden, a self-confessed ‘car guy,’ drove his 1967 Corvette Stingray on the show when he was vice president in 2016, impressing many with his driving skills.
This time around, his appearance coincides with the anniversary of what officials say was the darkest day so far in the Biden presidency.
An ISIS suicide bomber detonated a bag or vest of explosives packed with ball bearings. At least 170 Afghans died along with the Americans.
Hoover, 31, was among them.
His father said the visit to the cemetery brought comfort.
‘To have such a solemn ceremony, to have people there, the meaning of it… ‘ he said.
‘Nothing is going to change but it goes a long way in helping to know they are not going to be forgotten.’
At the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre defended the president.
She said no president felt more strongly about service members and their families.
‘He knows this as a father himself of a service member that served in Iraq,’ she said.
‘So we do not take this lightly. We take this very seriously and you know, our hearts are with the families today.
The roll call of the dead in Kabul airport attack during U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan
The suicide attack on August 26, 2021, made use of the crowds and chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
It targeted a gate manned by U.S. Marines, who were tasked with trying to ensure that people with correct papers were able to advance to the next stage of processing.
Along with at least 170 Afghans, the following Americans died:
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover;
Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario;
Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee;
Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez;
Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page;
Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola;
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui;
Navy Petty Officer Third Class Maxton W. Soviak;
Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss
On Friday, Biden marked the anniversary of the attack with a statement saying the 13 represented the very best of the ‘American character.’
‘They were beloved sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They came from all across our land,’ he said.
‘Each carried with them the pride of their own unique story and the hopes of the loved ones who nurtured them.
‘But they were united by a common call—to serve something greater than themselves. They were heroes, working to save lives as part of the largest airlift evacuation operation in our history.’
Officials have said the attack marked the darkest day for the administration.
And it marked a watershed moment for Biden, raising questions about his reputation for a mastery of foreign affair and sending his approval ratings into freefall.
Even so, the president used the anniversary to tout the success of his new strategy, using raids and drones to kill terrorists rather than keeping troops in Afghanistan.
He flagged an operation that killed the global head of ISIS in Syria and last month’s drone strike that killed Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawhiri in Kabul.
‘We now maintain pressure against terrorist threats without keeping thousands of troops in harm’s way on the ground in Afghanistan,’ he said.
‘And my administration will continue to hunt down terrorists who seek to harm the United States, wherever they may be.’
Republicans have promised to hold Biden and his administration accountable for the withdrawal.
Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House foreign affairs committee, said the sad anniversary reflected the mistakes made by Biden and his officials as they ignored warning from generals and regional experts.
‘It didn’t have to be this way,’ he said.
‘Americans deserve answers, and I will not stop until a thorough investigation has been conducted.’
And this week fresh questions have been raised by Marines present at Abbey Gate when the bomber detonated his explosives.
Tristan Hirsch, who was wounded in the attack, said troops had identified the bomber in the days leading up to the blast and had asked permission to kill him.
‘We knew about him two days prior to the attack,’ Hirsch, 24, told his local newspaper in California, the Chico Enterprise-Record.
‘We knew what he looked like. The CIA let us know; he looked exactly as they’d described him.’
They had been told that a man on a suicide mission, and preparing for heaven, would look different to the tired, hungry hordes who were besieging the airport looking for help to get out.
They were on the look out for someone looking freshly showered with a well-trimmed beard.
He said they never got permission to kill him before the attack.
The withdrawal has been back in the news this month, as the Taliban marked the anniversary of the day they swept into Kabul.
A string of former officials and regional experts said there has not been proper accountability of mistakes that were made or lessons learned.
Retired General Frank McKenzie, who oversaw the exit, said he had been reflecting on the mission for the past year.
‘Well, I’ll tell you I wish we had begun to bring people out earlier,’ he recently told NBC.
‘You always go back and you examine that. I wish we had seen that coming. I wish we had done that different.’
* Article from: Daily Mail