After The Atlantic ran an anonymously sourced article last week claiming President Donald Trump called U.S. troops “losers” and “suckers,” one combat-wounded U.S. Army veteran says he was upset to see his face used in social media memes promoting the claims in the controversial story.
Bobby Henline, a four-tour Iraq War veteran, told Fox News on Tuesday that he felt anti-Trump activists were using his image to promote a story he did not believe was true. Henline, formerly of the 82nd Airborne Division, was the lone survivor of an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Iraq that killed four other soldiers. As a result of the blast, he lost his left hand and suffered extensive burn injuries.
Henline noted several social media pages, such as Occupy Democrats and an MSNBC Rachel Maddow fan group on Facebook shared memes with his image, alongside claims Trump called veterans like him “losers.”
One meme showed the wounded Henline in his Army uniform, with the caption: “Trump says he’s a loser. I say he’s a hero! What do you say?”
Henline was upset to see his image used for the political attacks and has shared videos denouncing several of the memes. “People, stop using me for your propaganda, for your agenda. I’m not here for that,” he said in one video.
“I’m just so irritated that they put my image up there because now it looks like the president called me a loser,” Henline told Fox News. “And they’re using that to sell something that they believe in for their agenda. It’s not fair to put us [veterans] as props in the middle of all that.”
The Atlantic’s article claimed Trump canceled a November 2018 visit to a cemetery in France because he did not feel it necessary to honor the U.S. war dead buried at the cemetery. The article claimed Trump also questioned why the U.S. fought in World War I and said Trump viewed those killed in the war as losers and suckers. The article also claims Trump didn’t want amputees at a veterans event and allegedly said “Nobody wants to see that.”
The anonymously sourced Atlantic article has drawn criticism from President Trump and current and former administration officials who have publicly refuted the claims of the article.
Henline has continued his efforts on social media to denounce the use of his image to promote the story. In one Instagram post, he criticized a purportedly veteran-operated social media group, Military Veterans Against Fascism, which posted another meme supporting similar claims about negative Trump remarks towards veterans.
“This is even worse because it’s supposedly military veterans that are throwing other veterans underneath the bus and using us for their own agenda,” Henline said of the Military Veterans Against Fascism posts.
Another post by the same group, Military Veterans Against Fascism, has Henline and Trump in a pair of images. Over the image of Henline a caption reads, “Gets pissed because people are sharing his image out of respect for his service” while the caption over Trump’s image reads, “Then supports this guy, who would never share his image or be appreciative of his service.”
Some of the original memes using Henline have been taken down, but others have continued to circulate on social media.
Speaking to Fox News, Henline said “I really believe the president didn’t say this. There’s been anonymous sources and other sources in the room that aren’t necessarily friends with the president or believe in his ways, but they’re still not gonna slam him and make up this rumor and keep it spreading. And so with that said, I don’t think he really said this.”
Henline said that while The Atlantic article is anonymously sourced and has been denounced by named officials who were with Trump when he allegedly said the disparaging remarks, Henline feels the article worked in creating controversy.
“Them taking that well-recognized photo and using it for their agenda and changing veterans’ minds, thinking the president talks to them like that is ridiculous,” he said. “And I believe it worked. And that’s why I want to get it taken down because it shouldn’t be working. People need to hear the truth. That’s my image. And it should not be up there speaking for me.”