Donald Trump marked National Vietnam War Veterans Day on Sunday, with a tweet praising those who served in a conflict that involved US combat operations in Indochina from 1965 to 1973 .

“You have earned our gratitude and thanks,” he wrote, “by your actions years ago and what you have done since returning home. The nation thanks you and your families for your service and sacrifice. We love you!”

On Twitter on Sunday, Trump’s message to veterans met with a mix of thanks and severe scorn, given his track record regarding the Vietnam war.

Trump instituted the official holiday in 2017. Now 73, he was of age to be drafted for a war in which fighting reached a ferocious peak in the late 1960s and 58,000 Americans were killed. He did not serve in any capacity.

Trump received five deferments from service, four academic and one on dubious medical grounds.

In 2015, as he ran for president, Trump said he could not remember which of his heels had been temporarily affected by bone spurs, calcium build-ups which might render a recruit unfit for active service. His campaign said it was both.

Trump told the New York Times the spurs were “not a big problem, but it was enough of a problem”.

“They were spurs,” he said. “You know, it was difficult from the long-term walking standpoint.”

During the 2016 campaign, Trump was also revealed to have referred to avoiding sexually transmitted diseases as his own “Vietnam”.

Neither revelation derailed Trump’s White House run – and neither did his public derision of John McCain, a senator and Republican presidential candidate widely revered for his service as a navy pilot and his endurance of five and a half years in brutal conditions in captivity in Vietnam.

McCain died in 2018. Though he generally held the moral high ground when attacked by Trump, he did pass telling comment when speaking to C-Span 3’s American History TV in the year before his death.

“One aspect of the conflict … that I will never, ever countenance,” McCain said, “is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur.

“That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

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