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Area veterans decry Trump's comments on McCain

Omar Fetouh/WBFO News

Local veterans are criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his recent comments regarding Senator John McCain’s military career. Speaking at a conference on Saturday, Trump said McCain is not a war hero. He said McCain is only considered a war hero because he was captured. Trump encouraged people to pay more attention to those who were not imprisoned, saying they do not receive enough credit.

McCain spent more than five years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War. His Skyhawk divebomber was shot down in 1967.

Local Navy veteran John Nusbaum says Trump is wrong.

“I think [Trump has] lost a lot of votes that he might have gotten from all the veterans,” Nusbaum said. “John McCain volunteered or was drafted to go to Vietnam. He did what he had to do. He was shot down. He was captured. He’s a military hero. There’s no doubt about it.”

Fellow Navy veteran Robery Ley agreed, saying people should appreciate veterans even more now since the number of those serving is so low.

“Trump’s a jerk,” Ley said. “He’s an egotistical maniac. I don’t listen to him. I wouldn’t vote for him in a heartbeat. There are very few people now that serve our country – a very, very small percentage. It’s mostly poor people who can’t get a job and the economy is so terrible.”

However, local Navy veteran Leo Mayes said not necessarily every military person is a hero, including himself.

“You’re not a hero,” Mayes said. “You didn’t do anything above and beyond. You just went and did your job.  That’s what your job is. Now, if you go and you do something a little bit above and beyond, now you’re a hero. You gave up your life. You gave up your whatnot to save your platoon. But just a general person joining the service – no.  I don’t think you’re a hero.”

Every veteran WBFO spoke with on Monday agreed that Trump should not have made the comment, especially since he is not a veteran. During the Vietnam War, Trump received four student deferments and a medical deferment.  He also said he had a high lottery number.

“If you can’t lead your country, then you shouldn’t even be president. If you’ve never fought war, if you’ve never been in the military, you got no business leading my country,” Mayes said.