Fact Check

Biden Made Disrespectful Joke to Father of Navy SEAL?

Did Joe Biden make a disrespectful remark to the father of a Navy SEAL killed in Libya?

Published Oct 24, 2012

Claim:   Joe Biden made a disrespectful remark to the father of a Navy SEAL killed in Libya.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2012]

Saw this on facebook.....Is it true?

The father of one of the former Navy SEALs killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya says President Barack Obama wouldn't even look him in the eye and Vice President Joe Biden was disrespectful during the ceremony when his son's body returned to America.


Origins:   On 14 September 2012 the parents of Tyrone Woods, a Navy SEAL killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a few days earlier, attended a "transfer of remains" ceremony during which the bodies of Woods and the three other American victims were handed over to their families in a hanger at Andrews Air Force Base. During that ceremony, Charles Woods and Cheryl Croft Bennett met in a reception room with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and General and Mrs. Colin Powell.

In a late October interview with political commentator Glenn Beck, Charles Woods said that during that September meeting, President Obama had seemed cold and distant, and Vice-President Biden had made a disrespectful remark about his son:

The father of one of the Navy SEALs who was killed in the Libya consulate attack has criticised the White House reaction to his son's death — especially a bizarre and obscene comment Joe Biden made to him.

Mr. Woods [said] that the President seemed cold and distant at the time, saying: 'Shaking hands with him, quite frankly, was like shaking hands with a dead fish.'

"His face was pointed towards me but he would not look me in the eye," Woods says of meeting Obama. "I could tell he was not sorry. He had no remorse."

Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone Woods, described meeting Obama and Biden at Andrews Air Force Base to Glenn Beck on the conservative commentator's program.

Woods says Biden started his address to the grieving families that day by saying that he, too, had "received one of these damn phone calls," referring to the car crash that killed Biden's first wife and first daughter.

"An hour later, he came over and approached me," Woods told Beck. "And in an extremely loud and boisterous voice, [he asked,] 'Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?'"

We don't yet know how accurate Charles Woods' account of this meeting might be; for now, we can only note that it differs markedly from the account Tyrone Woods' mother posted on Facebook a few days after the event:

The entire afternoon was overpowering and unreal. Little did I know that I would find myself in a reception room being comforted, hugged, and, yes, even kissed by the President of the United States. Along with the President, there was Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and General and Mrs. Colin Powell. They were all wonderful. They held my hand, offered condolences, gave warm hugs, and were extremely compassionate and genuinely sad for my loss, as I fought back tears and tried to project an image of strength to honor my SEAL son.

Each of them commended Tyrone for his courage, his bravery, and his ultimate sacrifice for his country. While squeezing Secretary Clinton's hand and choking back tears, I told her that what worried me was that my son died possibly thinking that he had failed in the mission he was to carry out, that of protecting Ambassador Stevens and the people in the compound.

Looking me firmly in the eye, she told me that my son did not fail. She called him a hero and that if not for him, the 30 people inside the consulate would not have made it out. He was doing his job, fighting for his life, putting others ahead of his own safety, but then that was his job, which he did well.

Last updated:   24 October 2012


    Flock, Elizabeth.   "Father of Slain Navy SEAL in Libya Says Obama 'Had No Remorse.'"

    U.S.News & World Report.   26 October 2012.

    Gye, Hugo.   "'Did Your Son Always Have Balls the Size of Cue Balls?'"

    Daily Mail.   26 October 2012.

    Rogin, Josh.   "Murdered ex-SEAL’s Mother Frustrated by Pace of Benghazi Investigation."

    Foreign Policy.   28 September 2012.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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