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Video: Did Biden check his watch during dignified transfer of 13 US troops killed in Kabul?

President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Kabul, Afghanistan, from the East Room of the White House on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)
August 30, 2021

President Joe Biden faced backlash over the weekend for apparently checking his watch during the dignified transfer of 13 fallen U.S. troops at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The troops were killed in a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport last week during Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of the United States military from Afghanistan.

In video of the moment posted on YouTube, President Biden is seen standing with his hand over his heart and his eyes closed as caskets draped in American flags are removed from the Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft. Biden then shifts into a more relaxed position, at which point the commander-in-chief seemingly checks his watch before putting his arms behind his back.

A dignified transfer is a military ritual in which the bodies of fallen service members are received on American soil after they have died in foreign combat.

Video of the moment exploded on Twitter, prompting intense criticism from veterans, lawmakers and civilians alike.

“Looks like he was being inconvenienced by having to show some respect for these American Heros [sic],” disabled Army veteran Samuel Williams wrote on Twitter.

“Joe Biden had one job today. One. To stand on a tarmac. He didn’t have to say one word. He didn’t have to move or do anything ceremonious. Just stand still and pretend like you’re Commander-in-Chief,” podcaster Eric Matheny tweeted. “Dipshit checks his watch like he’s got somewhere better to be.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich accused the 46th president of being both callous and selfish, tweeting, “When Biden looked at his watch during the ceremony receiving and honoring the 13 killed American service members it taught all Americans something about the callousness and selfishness of the current President. His time is important. Their lives were not important in Biden World.”

Others defended the president, including one twitter user who said the moment needed to be put into context.

“I watched it live. It was at the end of the event after the vehicles with the soldiers’ bodies had left. Also he had a catastrophic hurricane to go attend to next. But I suppose context doesn’t matter much these days,” the user wrote.

“The man has his hands full,” another tweeted. “Afghanistan. Hurricanne. Hospitals in the path of the hurricane that can’t be evacuated as everyone’s hospitals are too full of non vaccinated covid patients and the power’s out. People refusing to follow science. Full plate. Needs to know the time.”

Eleven U.S. Marines, 1 U.S. Army soldier, and 1 Navy corpsman were among those killed in the terrorist attack in Kabul, the Pentagon said. The fallen were later identified as Navy corpsman Maxton Soviak, and Marines Kareem Nikoui, David Espinoza, Rylee McCollum, Jared Schmitz, Hunter Lopez, Taylor Hoover, Daegan William-Tyeler Page, Nicole Gee, Humberto Sanchez, Dylan Merola, Johanny Rosario Pichardo and Army soldier Ryan Knauss.