Glendale gold star wife: Go easy on Trump over call with military widow

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Kathy Upchurch) (Source: Kathy Upchurch)
(Source: Kathy Upchurch) (Source: Kathy Upchurch)

As President Donald Trump is scrutinized about this handling of gold star families, a Valley woman says people often don’t know what to say to those who have lost loved ones in combat.

Kathy Upchurch still remembers the day two Marines came to her door with devastating news about her husband serving in the Vietnam War.

“Is he a prisoner? They said no,” says Upchurch. “OK, is he gravely injured? No. Well, hen I guess you'd better come in and tell me what I have to do.”

Her husband, Lt. James Upchurch, was killed March 25, 1969 when a mortar struck close to him. The shock sent him into a medical emergency that turned fatal.

Upchurch recalls a difficult conversation when she went to a clothing store to buy a dress for the funeral, but only found bright colored clothes for the Easter holiday.

“This little lady says 'why are you getting a black dress?' I said 'I’m getting a black dress because my husband was killed,'” says Upchurch. “And she says 'well, you're so young. You don’t even know what love is.'”

President Trump has been on the defensive since details emerged about his phone call with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson who was killed Oct. 4 with three other U.S. soldiers in Niger. Trump denies saying anything inappropriate.

“He may not know what to say to a widow or maybe it came out wrong,” suggests Upchurch, who admits she is not a fan of the president. She says she hopes Trump seeks recommendations on how to handle these situations with sensitivity.

Upchurch says her advice for the widow is to focus on those who love her and honoring her husband’s service.

“If I had focused on the two women at the dress shop where would I be today?”

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