ARLINGTON, Virginia — The most common response at the Pentagon to Donald Trump’s claim that he “always felt that I was in the military” because he went to a military-themed boarding school was a slight roll of the eyes followed by one word:
The Pentagon is filled with officers who bear the scars of war because of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a rare occasion to not walk by a soldier with a combat patch on his right shoulder, signifying the unit he served with at a time in war. Newly minted generals can have six or seven slashes on their formal uniform, each one marking an overseas deployment.
Still others still carry photos of each soldier lost under their command.
Perhaps because of those recent experiences, Trump’s remarks were particularly out of touch to many who currently serve. In a forthcoming biography, Trump reportedly said he “always felt I was in the military” because he went to New York Military Academy, a boarding school, not far from West Point, New York, home of the Army’s academy.
Trump reportedly avoided the draft and received five military deferments from the Vietnam War. At least one was for medical reasons and others were to attend Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania.
“Did he have to swear-in to get into his school?” one soldier asked.
Somehow questions on Trump became opportunities for service members to take jabs at rival services.
“Well, it could be true. It depends on what kind of pillow fights he got into,” one naval officer remarked, referring to the last weekend’s violent pillow fight at the United States Military Academy, which injured 30.
Trump has claimed he makes $400 million a year—or the equivalent annual salary 10 Army majors every day.
“If he wants to be in the military, I would gladly trade places with him,” another soldier remarked.
Officially the Pentagon had no response to the comments, saying the Defense Department does not comment on political matters.