Fact Check: The Pentagon And The State Department HAVE Issued Condolences After The Deaths of 5 U.S. Service Members In Egypt

Fact Check

  • by: Arthur Brice
Fact Check: The Pentagon And The State Department HAVE Issued Condolences After The Deaths of 5 U.S. Service Members In Egypt Some Words

Have President Trump, the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department not commented on the deaths of U.S. service members in a helicopter crash in Egypt on November 12, 2020? No, that's not true: Although Trump and the White House have not commented, the Pentagon and the State Department issued statements acknowledging the incident and offering condolences.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published on Facebook on Novermber 16, 2020. It opened:

On Thursday, six American service members were killed in a helicopter crash during a peacekeeping mission in Egypt.

Not one word from Trump.

Not one word from the White House, the Pentagon or the State Department.

Not one word.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Nov 17 20:24:09 2020 UTC)

The post on Facebook is not even half right. Of the five assertions made in it, three are erroneous. The errors:

First: Five U.S. service members, not six, were killed in the Black Hawk helicopter crash in Sinai, Egypt on November 12, 2020. The Army identified them on November 14, 2020 as:

  • Capt. Seth Vernon Vandekamp, 31, from Katy, Texas.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dallas Gearld Garza, 34, from Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan Sameh Ghabour, 27, from Marlborough, Massachusetts.
  • Staff Sgt. Kyle Robert McKee, 35, from Painesville, Ohio.
  • Sgt. Jeremy Cain Sherman, 23, from Watseka, Illinois.

In addition, two service members from other countries who were part of the same peacekeeping mission -- one from France and one from the Czech Republic -- were reported killed in the crash.

Second: Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller issued a statement on November 12, 2020, the same day as the crash. It said:

The Defense Department is deeply saddened by the loss of five U.S. and two partner nation service members in a helicopter crash in the Sinai Peninsula operating with the United Nations Multinational Force and Observers (MFO).

Yesterday we recognized the sacrifice of millions of American veterans who have defended our nation for generations, and today we are tragically reminded of the last full measure our uniformed warriors may pay for their service.

I extend the Department's condolences to the families, friends and teammates of these service members.

Third: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement on November 13, 2020, the day after the crash. It said:

We mourn the terrible loss of five American soldiers who died yesterday in service of our country as a part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Egypt. Our great men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day for our nation and for the sake of securing peace throughout the world. Alongside our servicemen, we also are saddened to learn of the deaths of one French and one Czech soldier. We pray for all of their families and for the quick recovery of the one injured American soldier who survived. May God bless our nation and these patriots.

The Facebook post is correct in asserting that neither President Trump nor the White House has issued a public statement. But Vice President Pence participated in the dignified transfer of the remains of the five soldiers at Dover Air Force Base on November 16, 2020.

Officials have not released information on the cause of the crash, which remains under investigation.

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  Arthur Brice

Arthur Brice is a fact checker at Lead Stories. He has been a journalist for more than 40 years, nearly 30 of them in newspapers. Brice was a national desk editor and reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for nearly 20 years. Previously, he was political editor at The Tampa Tribune and also worked for three other Florida newspapers. He spent 11 Years as an executive editor and executive producer at CNN. 

Read more about or contact Arthur Brice

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