- President Donald Trump joked that he wanted to award himself the Medal of Honor while praising a WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient at a gathering of US military veterans in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday.
- Trump, who never served in the military and received five draft deferments, said previously that he is "making up for it" by strengthening the military.
- Earlier this year, while criticizing former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the president said that he thinks he would have made a "good general."
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President Donald Trump told a WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Wednesday that he wanted to give himself the military’s highest award for valor but said his aides talked him out of it.
Speaking at the 75th annual national convention of American veterans (AMVETS), the president singled out Woody Williams, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Iwo Jima, for praise at the gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, Politico reports.
"Thank you, Woody," Trump said. "That was a big day, Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor. I wanted one, but they told me I don’t qualify, Woody. I said, ‘Can I give it to myself anyway?’ They said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’"
The president did not say why he thought he deserved such an award. The Medal of Honor, according to the Department of Defense, is presented by the president on behalf of Congress and "is conferred only upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty."
While Trump’s comments appear to have been a joke, the president has repeatedly made comments of this nature over the course of his presidency.
Trump, who never served in the military and received a total of five draft deferments, said in June that he "would’ve been honored" to serve in the military, further commenting, "I think I make up for it right now … and I think I’m making up for it rapidly because we’re rebuilding our military at a level that it’s never seen before."
In January, the president sharply criticized former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a retired Marine general who resigned in response to Trump’s decision to prematurely withdraw US troops from Syria, leaving US partners to fight alone as they continued to wage war against ISIS, an enemy Trump insisted was defeated despite arguments to the contrary by senior military leadership.
During that freewheeling Cabinet meeting, Trump said, "I think I would’ve been a good general, but who knows." This president has previously mocked "failed generals" for their objections to his policy proposals, and many of them have since left his administration.
As commander-in-chief, Trump has command and control of the US armed forces.
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