The father of a Marine Corps lance corporal had a tense encounter with President Joe Biden after he agreed to meet with the president at Dover Air Force Base following his son's death in Kabul, he said.
Mark Schmitz initially did not want to meet with Biden but changed his mind, he said, after he realized he owed it to his son, Jared, to tell the president what was on his mind.
"I just stared him straight in the face — it was like a kid's staring contest to see who was going to blink first," Schmitz said. "He kept looking away."
"I didn't have a lot of good thoughts about the man — I just stood there quietly, just staring," he told NPR.
Jared Schmitz's mother showed Biden a picture of their son, and Mark Schmitz said Biden simply stared at it "and mumbled something."
"I couldn't really make out what he said," he added. "As he's looking at this picture of my son, I just flat-out said to him, 'That's Jared, that's Jared Schmitz. Don't ever forget that name and don't forget the name of the 12 others. You need to spend some time learning their stories, who they were.'"
He said Biden "kind of — I described it as barking back, because I don't know how else to really describe it," with Biden saying, "I know their stories."
"My first thought was, 'That's literally impossible, and why are you arguing with me?'" Schmitz continued. "And then of course he mentions his son again."
Biden then showed him a card he keeps in his pocket with the number "+13" on it, which he told Schmitz he carries with him every day to remind him of the service members killed in Kabul, he said.
"I'll give the guy kudos — him showing up and having to do what he had to do," Schmitz said. "It had to be one of the hardest things in the world for him to do as well."