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Area veterans weigh in on Trump’s condolence call


Published: Fri, October 20, 2017 @ 12:09 a.m.

RELATED: Kelly defends Trump on condolence calls

By William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Area veterans weighed in Thursday on the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s handling of his call offering condolences to the family of a soldier killed in Niger.

“To start with, as an owner- operator truck driver, I’ve been to several of his facilities over the years and believe him to be a liar, a thief and con man,” said Bruce Kirkland of Marine Corps League Detachment 494.

“But, by the same token, even though Trump failed public speaking, he handled it properly in his own way. It was clumsy, but not out of line,” said Kirkland, who served in the Marine Corps from 1955 to 1959.

Also swaying Kirkland’s comments was that Chief of Staff John Kelly backs up Trump’s version of what was said.

Leo Connelly, a member of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 2 in Austintown, firmly believes that what the president said was taken out of context.

He said Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat from Florida, is trying to politicize the issue, “which I think is wrong for the president and the soldier’s family.”

“It is despicable,” said Connelly, who served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968 as a combat soldier, six months as a door gunner on a helicopter and six months as a foot soldier.

Trump had people with him who heard a different message to the soldier’s family.

“I don’t believe the president made the call for political reasons. I believe in my heart it was from his heart. I believe he loves veterans,” Connelly said.

“The controversy is all political. I met him face-to-face at our post [AMVETS Post 44 in Struthers]. It doesn’t seem like something he would say,” said John P. Brown III, past AMVETS national commander.

“I just can’t picture anybody being as insensitive as the president is being portrayed. I can’t picture him being that insensitive to this family,” said Brown.

“When he visited Post 44, he honored me and my wife, Jan. He was very gracious and a gentleman,” Brown said.

“I don’t have a problem with Trump. So far, I’m happy with what I’ve seen, and until someone proves me wrong, I’m going to stay with the guy,” said Brown.


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