Trump on military service: 'I've regretted not serving in many ways'

Story highlights

  • "I've regretted not serving in many ways," Trump said
  • Trump also said he was "fortunate" to have not served in Vietnam

(CNN)Donald Trump, facing scrutiny this week over his multiple military deferments during the Vietnam War, said Tuesday that he regrets not serving in the military.

"I've regretted not serving in many ways," Trump said in an interview with Gray Television's Kellie Meyer after his rally in Ashburn, Virginia. "So many of the greatest people I know have served."
The New York Times reported Monday that Trump avoided the US military draft during the Vietnam War thanks to four student deferments and one medical deferment after he was diagnosed with bone spurs in his heels. Those deferments have once again come under the media glare after Trump escalated a confrontation with the family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier who died while serving in the Iraq War.
    Trump said in the interview that he was "fortunate" to have not served in Vietnam, which he called "highly contested and unpopular."
    When asked why he sought to avoid the draft, Trump said "it was a very long time ago," and he was a college student.
    "By the time we got out it was, I guess -- for the most part I wouldn't have had to go, but I got college deferments, I had one medical deferment for feet," Trump said. "But it all worked out."
    Critics have slammed Trump for saying that Khan's father had "no right" to criticize him in a speech at the Democratic convention last week and for implying that Khan's mother was not allowed to speak because she is Muslim.
    The interview followed a campaign rally where Trump accepted a Purple Heart from a veteran who had sustained combat injuries.
    Trump said on stage Tuesday that he "always wanted to get the Purple Heart," which is awarded to service members who sustain combat injuries.
    "This was much easier," Trump said, holding up the decoration.
    Trump has previously said that he has "always felt a little guilty" about not serving in the military, but that he has sought to make up for avoiding service through other endeavors, like his contributions toward building the Vietnam Memorial in New York.