Thanks to the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, a story featured on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s website claiming that Donald Trump sent his personal plane to carry marines home from Florida to North Carolina at the end of the 1991 Gulf War, has been “easily debunked.”
According to Kessler, the plane that was used to transport the troops belonged to a now-defunct airline that Trump had little control over at the time.
The story on Hannity’s site relied mostly on the recollections of Cpl. Ryan Stickney who served during the 1990-91 war. It starts with returning Gulf War troops at Camp Lejeune whose homecomings were “marred by flight delays” while their relatives awaited their arrival for hours in the hot sun.
“Stickney recalls being told that a mistake had been made within the logistics unit and that an aircraft wasn’t available to take the Marines home on their scheduled departure date,” Hannity.com reported.
Then, according to Hannity, Trump came to the rescue.
“The way the story was told to us was that Mr. Trump found out about it and sent the airline down to take care of us,” Stickney said.
The photo of the plane included with the story was taken by Stickney:
From WaPo’s Glenn Kessler:
Moreover, take a close look at the photograph. That was not Trump’s private plane at the time. That’s a Boeing 727 jet that was part of a Trump Shuttle fleet — an airline that Trump briefly owned before it was essentially seized by the banks because he failed to make payments on his loans. It had a white fuselage.
In 1991, Trump’s plane looked like this (and had only 24 seats):
Trump had put the Trump Shuttle up for sale on April 27, 1990, but by September couldn’t make loan payments and needed to cut a new deal with his bankers. By the time the TOW company went off to war, Trump had not paid interest on a $235 million Citibank loan for months.
By the time the warriors returned from Saudi Arabia, the banks had made it clear they would determine how and when the shuttle was sold. Trump was in such financial straits that he had even agreed to sell his personal jet for $6.5 million in a bid to raise cash.
As Kessler points out, Trump’s bad deal with Eastern Airlines resulted in some extra planes being contracted out to the U.S. military to ferry soldiers throughout the U.S. during the Gulf War.
Lt. Gen.Vernon J. Kondra, now retired, was in charge of all military airlift operations at the time and said that Trump personally arranging a flight to help stranded soldiers made little sense.
“I certainly was not aware of that. It does not sound reasonable that it would happen like that. It would not fit in with how we did business,” he told Kessler. “I don’t even know of how he would have known there was a need.”
So how did this story get legs? Basically, Hannity reached out to Trump to confirm if the story was true, and Trump responded, ‘Oh yeah, that’s totally true.’