Trump Told An Exceedingly Weird Story About Meeting Parents Of A Korean War MIA

One outcome of the SIngapore Summit includes a purported agreement to work on repatriating American remains from the Korean War. This is a good thing, but the President couldn't resist adding obvious embellishment.

In an interview after the Singapore Summit that concluded with a vague statement that included an agreement to work on the return of the remains of American soldiers lost in the Korean War, President Trump made a bizarre claim that can’t possibly be true:

One of the pledges that President Trump says he extracted from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their summit earlier this week was a commitment to repatriate the remains of U.S. troops soldiers killed during the Korean War.

There are more than 7,700 Americans still considered missing in action from that conflict, the vast majority of them Army soldiers whose remains are presumably still on Korean soil. There are unaccounted-for Korean War service members from every state in the union, including 593 from California, 515 from Trump’s home state of New York and one, Army Pvt. John Baptist Lockwood, from Alaska.

In an interview with Fox News’s Bret Baier that aired on Wednesday, Trump made an unusual claim about his request that the remains of those soldiers be returned, if possible.

“One of the things that, really, I’m happy, is that the soldiers that died in Korea, their remains are going to be coming back home,” Trump told Baier. “And we have thousands of people that have asked for that. Thousands and thousands of people. So many people asked for that, when I was on the campaign. I’d say, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have any relationship.’ But they said, ‘When you can, President, we’d love our son to be brought back home,’ you know, the remains.”

Hostilities in the Korean War ended more than 60 years ago, meaning that Trump claims to have been confronted by people who were parents of adults at that point. On its surface that seems unlikely. Given Trump’s proclivity for adding multiple layers of hyperbole to even factually accurate assertions, the safe assumption would be that he took a kernel of truth — there is an effort to repatriate those missing service members— and parlayed that into a story about how he’s delivering for the families of veterans.

That said, though, it’s also worth asking if there might have been multiple parents of Korean War veterans who confronted him during the 2016 campaign. I mean, it’s not impossible, right?

And: No, it isn’t. It’s just very, very unlikely.

Even assuming that the some of the soldiers who went missing during the war were as young as 18 when they were drafted and sent to Korea, their parents would have to be somewhere between 102 and 110 years old at this point in time. While it’s possible, I suppose, that Trump met two people of such an advanced age at some point during his campaign, the likelihood of such an event happening is exceedingly remote. It’s also possible that the President met some other relative of an MIA soldier from the war, such as a brother or sister, or even a son or daughter and that he misspoke during the course of the interview. At the same time, though, this kind of story is consistent with the President’s habit of making up things that quite obviously never occurred. Perhaps he does it because he likes to tell stories, perhaps it’s because it helps inflate his ego and he thinks it makes him seem sympathetic, a personality aspect that he generally seems to lack.

To be sure, the prospect of returning the remains of American soldiers lost in battle is a good thing. Furthermore, it’s always good news when families can be given the closure that comes with being able to bid a final farewell to someone lost in war and those soldiers can be given the honors they are entitled to by military tradition. This isn’t just an issue with respect to the Korean War, of course, but also the Vietnam War and in that regard, we’ve been working together with the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to locate and recover the remains of American troops for some time now. If this agreement means that the previously closed areas of North Korea where American remains might be found can be searched to determine if American remains can be located and returned home, then that is a positive development that the President deserves credit for. That doesn’t explain, though, why the President feels the need to make up stories like this. Getting North Korean cooperation on this issue, assuming it actually happens, is a good thing in and of itself. There’s no need to embellish the accomplishment with claims that are obviously not true.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, North Korea, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Sam Osborne says:

    The Korean conflict was the one I got drafted into and as one might conclude from this post I’m still here on Earth USA. I don’t think my 113 year old mom or 122 year old dad have been contacting Trump about much of anything—if they were to do so they might try to scare the hell out of him to a point that he would stop fabricating one damn lie after another.

  2. CSK says:

    If you were 18 in 1950, you were born in 1932. That means you are or will be 86 this year. If your parents are still alive, which they’re not, they’re in no condition to have attended any of Trump’s campaign events.

  3. Kathy says:

    You’d think someone who tells so many lies would know to make up plausible lies by now.

  4. CSK says:


    Why? His fan club will buy anything he says. And if he contradicts himself an hour later, that won’t bother them either.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Just more evidence that Trump exists in a strange world where there is no actual truth. There are only pretty words that pop into his head. Likewise, his supporters put no value on reality. They want to here things that sound glorious or strong or vengeful. Whether or not those things are true are just nitpicking.

    Can you imagine how an Obama supporter would feel if he was caught out in such a ridiculous lie? I for one would be excruciatingly embarrassed. But to a Trump supporter, it’s all good.

  6. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: What @CSK and @MarkedMan said. We’ve seen Trump blatantly lie about things he said THAT ARE ON VIDEO and none of his adherents could care any less. Honesty is something they demand of the other side, not of themselves.

  7. Yank says:

    @Kathy: He is a narcissist and doesn’t care if he gets caught or not.

  8. KM says:

    Pathological liars simply MUST lie. Doesn’t matter how pointless or unnecessary – the truth is never good enough.

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    It’s not a weird story.
    It’s not an embellishment.
    It’s a fvcking lie…and it happens so fvcking often that Dennison does not deserve the benefit of doubt.
    It’s way past time that this buffoon is held to the same standards as everyone else and stops being graded on a curve.
    He is a pathological liar. Period.

  10. teve tory says:

    Well, it’s a weird story and a lie, obviously. This headline doesn’t bother me. If you called every lie trump tells a lie, it would be monotonous. He lies every day, all day long. And of course the nitwits who ache to shove the Ten Commandments down everyone’s throats are his biggest supporters.

  11. teve tory says:

    “He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same,”

    Donald Trump referring to Kim Jong Un on Fox and Friends this morning.

  12. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    And that pretty much tells you what you need to know about Trump.

    He also repeated the claim about parents of Korean War vets wanting him to bring home the remains of their sons.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Had lunch this spring with a friend of mine who lives in Alaska and was in Seattle doing dry-dock work on the ship he works on. He related a story that he was in Korea at the same time that I was working there and had tried to contact some people so that we could get together (and I’m really sorry that we couldn’t connect there). He was there because he was meeting a man with a Korean War historical foundation that locates the sites where soldiers died in battle so that their families can have more information about their departed loved one’s service to the country. The historical foundation guy took my friend to several hills on which his dad had fought, including the one that the foundation expert believes to be the one on which his dad died. It was a very moving and exciting experience for my friend and I wish that I had been able to share some of it with him while he was there.

    The reason I bring up the story is because my friend is only one year younger than Donald Trump. I think Trump was confused in his story because he was talking to people only slightly older than himself and was thinking that, because he is so youthful and all, those people must be the parents of MIAs not the children of them.