WASHINGTON – Mark and Jaclyn Schmitz were not holding back.
“As you can probably tell by now, I’m done biting my tongue,” the Gold Star father from Wentzville said to members of Congress. “I identify as a father, a husband, a p—– off, fed-up American patriot, and now, thanks to this Administration, a Gold Star dad.”
The Schmitzes were among the 13 Gold Star families speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday afternoon. The mission: to get answers and accountability following the August 2021 Abbey Gate suicide bombing during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was one of the 13 service members who died in the attack.
The families and lawmakers present insist the deaths could have been avoided. The latest revelation was that families said they learned a sniper was in position to take out the suicide bomber Aug. 26, 2021, but that superiors gave instructions not to engage.
“We deserve to know the truth,” Gold Star mother Coral Briseno said.
Many of the families, including the Schmitzes, directed their frustration at the Biden administration, demanding the president and others step down from their posts.
Mark and Jaclyn Schmitz spoke with FOX 2 shortly after the three-hour roundtable.
“Answers. And accountability. And that was the theme.” Jaclyn Schmitz said.
Mark Schmitz’s remarks included some profanities. He said he’s waited long enough.
“If I’m going to get this out, let’s just get it out,” he said.
Jacyln added: “It did grab their attention. Not that that’s always the best way to do it. But it did grab their attention.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed gratitude toward the families and said he would not back down from getting answers.
“You deserve it. Everything you’ve been through the past two years,” Rep. McCaul said.
Mark Schmitz said he was pleased with how the meeting went.
“This was probably the most promising out of all the meetings that we’ve had, and phone calls and emails. The fact that they took time to reach out,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Mark and Jaclyn Schmitz founded The Freedom 13, a non-profit named in honor of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the 2021 bombing.
The organization raises funds to build a retreat village for veterans in every state, offering activities for veterans and their families free of charge. For more information, visit https://thefreedom13.org/