On April 8, Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar was killed in Afghanistan. Days later, on April 12, his widow got a phone call from President Donald Trump that she says comforted her family in their grief.
“At that moment when my world was upside down and me and my kids didn’t know which way we were going, it felt like I was talking to just another regular human,” Natasha De Alencar told the Washington Post of the call. “It was a moment of niceness that we needed because we were going through hell.”
News of the president’s call to the De Alencar family comes as Trump faces criticism for both falsely claiming past presidents did not personally reach out to the families of slain service members and for allegedly telling the widow of slain U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson that the soldier “knew what he signed up for.”
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Democrat from Florida who was in the car with the Johnson family when Trump called the late soldier’s pregnant widow, set off a media frenzy this week when the congresswoman said she overheard the comment the president made to Myeshia Johnson.
Trump later tweeted that the congresswoman “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof) Sad!”
However, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not deny that the president made the comments when she was asked about them during a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, instead saying that his words were well-intentioned and “taken very far out of context.”
Meanwhile, Natasha De Alencar told the Post she and her children all sat around the phone when Trump called, with one filming the conversation. During the chat, Trump is heard saying how sorry he was about the “whole situation.”
“He’s an unbelievable hero and you know all the people that served with him are saying how incredible he was,” Trump is heard saying in the roughly four-minute call obtained by CNN. “If you’re around Washington, you come over and see me in the Oval Office.”
Mark De Alencar, a member of the 7th Special Forces group, was fatally shot in Afghanistan just days after celebrating his 37th birthday. His body was taken to Dover Air Force Base on April 10, CNN reports.
Mark and Natasha shared five children: Deshaune, 20, Octavia, 18, Rodrigo, 16, Tatiyana, 13, and 5-year-old Marcos.
Trump concluded the call with a message for the couple’s kids.
“Tell them their father was a great hero that I respected,” Trump told the widow.
Now, NatashaDe Alencar says she cherishes the call.
“All you got is memories and having the commander-in-chief call you for five minutes is an important memory,” she told CNN.