During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, Joe Biden fabricated an emotional story about pinning a medal on a reluctant Navy captain in honor of his daring attempt to rescue a downed comrade in Afghanistan.
Addressing a crowd of over 400, Biden recalled how the captain rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire to rescue the body of a fallen American soldier only to resist when then-vice president Biden tried to pin a Silver Star on his chest to honor his efforts.
“He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!’ ” Biden shouted, recounting the apocryphal event. “’Do not pin it on me, sir! Please, sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’”
“This is the God’s truth,” he added. “My word as a Biden.”
While the crowd was reportedly moved by his testimony, the incident never occurred, according to the Washington Post.
Rather, Biden conflated three separate stories: a daring rescue by a 20-year-old Army specialist who never received a Silver Star; a visit he made to Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator; and a medal ceremony he presided over for an Army staff sergeant who felt he was undeserving of the award.
“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,” reads the Post‘s report.
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.”
As the Post report notes, the Pentagon has no record of a U.S. Army captain receiving a Silver Star during the period Biden describes.
During a 2008 trip to Afghanistan, Biden did, in fact, watch Major General David Rodriguez pin a Bronze Star on a young soldier who tried to pull a wounded comrade out of a burning vehicle. He did not, however, preside over the ceremony.