I Personally Know How President Trump Pays Respect to Our Fallen Heroes | Opinion

Time and again, we have seen the media push a false narrative at the expense of President Donald Trump, his family and regular patriotic Americans. Last week, a magazine falsely alleged that President Donald Trump made disparaging remarks about our fallen heroes.

As someone who represents a congressional district with the highest percentage of active-duty military personnel, I understand the toll that endless wars have on our communities. I have also seen firsthand how President Trump solemnly receive the remains of our fallen heroes. While President Obama (a Nobel Peace Prize winner) had the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first commander-in-chief to serve all eight years in active combat, President Trump has reduced our troop presence by thousands around the world, including in Afghanistan and Syria.

As the first president since Ronald Reagan not to have taken America into a new war, veterans and active-duty military personnel appreciate this president more than most—while the military-industrial complex shakes in fear.

I will never forget standing with President Trump on the tarmac as those caskets draped in American flags were unloaded, under pouring rain, as he saluted and grieved with their beloved ones. I write about this unforgettable night in my forthcoming book, Firebrand: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the MAGA Revolution, from which the following excerpt is derived.


February 10, 2020

4:00 PM, Air Force One. Manifested to Manchester, New Hampshire for "Make America Great Again" rally.

The loudspeaker voice was familiar, by now: "The president has boarded the aircraft." The commander-in-chief then bounded to the conference room, where his political team gathered.

"The soldiers are at Dover [New Hampshire]. We should go to Dover. Does anybody mind if we cut the rally short and head back to make it?" No time was permitted for a response. He had already made the call and given the order. "We are going to Dover." He returned to his office not having heard a word from the rest of us. The manifest was updated to Dover.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) Drew Angerer/Getty Images

They weren't just any fallen heroes. They were mine. The 7th Special Forces Group calls my district home. They go deep into the fight and take heavy casualties. I've buried too many. They were all in their prime. The last two were 28 years old.

9:45 PM, Dover Air Force Base. Dignified transfer of Sgt. Javier "Jaguar" Gutierrez and Sgt. Antonio Rodriguez.

"We have to do this to show everyone the cost of these wars, Matt," said President Trump. We hadn't stepped off Air Force One yet. The tears were already welling in my eyes. Did I mention I cry?

I can still hear her screams. I will never forget them. Spanish words, raw emotions. "Estoy aquí, Jaguar! Estoy aquí!" She didn't believe he was dead and was shouting, "I'm here." She sprinted to the back of the C-130, calling for him at the top of her lungs. When she saw the casket, knees buckled, hearts sank and reality set in. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to watch in my life.

Vice President Pence handed each and every family member a card, saying, "If you need anything large or small, you call this number. We will help you."

As we loaded back onto the presidential aircraft, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said of Trump, "He's exactly where we are, Matt. We have to keep helping him. And them."

And I will.

Matt Gaetz is a Republican representing Florida's 1st congressional district.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.