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Donald Trump
stated on October 2, 2018 in a rally in Southaven, Miss.:
Says Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he served in Vietnam in "Da Nang Province. Soldiers dying left and right as we battled up the hill." And "then he cried when (the press) caught him."  
true false
Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg October 4, 2018

Donald Trump's inventions about Richard Blumenthal and Vietnam

At a rally in Southaven, Miss., President Donald Trump denounced Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., for his support of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump dubbed Blumenthal "Da Nang Richard," a reference to a battleground in the Vietnam War.

"This guy lied about his service," Trump said Oct. 2. "He didn't just say ‘Gee, I was in the service.’ No, he said, ‘I was in the Marines. Da Nang province. Soldiers dying left and right as we battled up the hill.’ This went on for 15 years when he was the attorney general of Connecticut. I thought he was a great war hero."

Trump continued.

"Here's a guy who was saying people were dying all around him. And he was never there. And then he cried when they caught him. He cried like a baby, like a baby."

In a companion fact-check, we looked at Trump’s claim that Blumenthal "lied" about his Vietnam service. (Mostly True.) Here, we look at the rest of Trump’s words, the ones about Da Nang and crying.

Trump is wrong that Blumenthal spun heroic war stories, and cried when he was called out for it.

Vietnam legacy

Both Blumenthal and Trump avoided serving in Vietnam. Trump benefited from four student deferments in college and one medical deferment (which Trump later said was for bone spurs in his heels), before being classified 4-F, unfit to serve.

While Trump never claimed to have been there, Blumenthal sometimes did.

Blumenthal enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970. Until then, five deferments had kept him out of the war. Getting a coveted slot in the reserves reduced the chance of battlefield deployment. Blumenthal went through basic training and served six years in the Washington, D.C, area and Connecticut.

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In 2010, the New York Times reported that at a 2008 ceremony for veterans and senior citizens, Blumenthal said, "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam."  

The newspaper provided another example from a 2003 event. "When we returned, we saw nothing like this," Blumenthal told military families. "Let us do better by this generation of men and women."

A day after the New York Times story, Blumenthal held a news conference in West Hartford, Conn.

"I routinely describe my pride at having served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves during the Vietnam era," Blumenthal said, flanked by veterans. "On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service. And I regret that, and I take full responsibility."

There were no tears.

Some argued that there also was no apology. Blumenthal released a statement about a week later saying, "I have made mistakes and I am sorry."

We can find no record that Blumenthal ever described being in Da Nang or any other place in Vietnam. (And for the record, Da Nang is a city, not a province, although it serves the same administrative role as a province in Vietnamese governance.)

We reached out to the White House and did not hear back.

Our ruling

Trump said Blumenthal said he saw battle in Da Nang, and "then he cried when they caught him."

Blumenthal never spoke of fighting in Da Nang or anywhere else in Vietnam. He did not cry when he acknowledged his misleading statements.

Those elements are pure Trump invention. We rate this claim False.

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Says Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he served in Vietnam in "Da Nang Province. Soldiers dying left and right as we battled up the hill." And "then he cried when (the press) caught him."
At a rally in Southaven, Mississippi
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Our Sources

Donald Trump, Rally in Southaven, Miss., Oct. 2, 2018

New York Times, Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History, May 17, 2010

C-SPAN, Senator Richard Blumenthal military service press conference, May 18, 2010

Stamford Advocate, Blumenthal tells different story in complete video, May 19, 2010

New York Times, More Blumenthal claims of Vietnam war service surface, May 22, 2010

Hartford Courant, What Did Sen. Richard Blumenthal Really Say About His Military Record and Vietnam?,  Oct. 1, 2018

Hartford Courant, Fighting back, Blumenthal says he misspoke about his service,  May 19, 2010 via Nexis

Christian Science Monitor, Connecticut Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal says story on his Vietnam service is a 'distortion', May 18, 2010

New York Times, Blumenthal Says He Is Sorry For War Claims, May 25, 2010

Connecticut Post, Rally hails U.S. troops, April 25, 2003, via Nexis

New Haven Register, Elite Guard unit prepared to roll, April 6, 2007 via Nexis

Connecticut Post, Milford parade honors sacrifices, May 28, 2007 via Nexis

Connecticut Post, Shelton pays tribute to military, May 18, 2008 vai Nexis

Connecticut Post, Bridgeport's new Korean War monument dedicated, November 11, 2009 via Nexis

Washington Post, President Trump’s 90-second rant on Richard Blumenthal and Vietnam, Oct. 3, 2018

PolitiFact, Trump wrong on Sen. Blumenthal's CNN interview and Vietnam, Feb. 9, 2017

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More by Jon Greenberg

Donald Trump's inventions about Richard Blumenthal and Vietnam

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