Natasha De Alencar had just returned home on April 12 after making T-shirts and pillowcases in her husband’s memory when the Army casualty assistance officer told her there was someone on the phone for her. It was President Trump.
Days before, two Army men told her that her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, had been killed in Afghanistan on April 8.
“I’ll never forget those super-white, clean gloves, or the expressionless look on their faces,” she previously told The Washington Post.
He left behind five children — Deshaune, 20, Octavia, 18, Rodrigo, 16, Tatiyana, 13, and Marcos, 5 — and his wife of 15 years.
“My husband was truly one of those people who would give you the shirt off of his back and he would look out for you before himself,” De Alencar recalled in a phone interview with The Post.
De Alencar had to figure out funeral plans, navigate endless paperwork and provide emotional support for her family.
And now she was about to speak to the president.
Surrounded by her children in the living room, De Alencar picked up the phone and turned on the speakerphone.
After she had waited on hold for 15 or so minutes, Trump’s voice echoed out of the phone’s tiny speaker, while one of De Alencar’s daughters filmed the conversation.
Trump opened by saying how sorry he is about the “whole situation,” before adding that De Alencar’s husband was “an unbelievable hero.”
“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,” De Alencar said.
Later in the call, Trump invited De Alencar to the White House, telling her, “If you’re around Washington, you come over and see me in the Oval Office,” before asking about her oldest son, Deshaun, who is playing college football at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Mo.
De Alencar told Trump that her son had received a scholarship, and Trump asked whether it was an academic or sports scholarship. (It was an academic scholarship.)
The conversation then shifted to De Alencar’s four other children. Trump asked her to say hello to them for him and to “tell them their father was a great hero that I respected.”
The phone call ended with Trump repeating his invitation to the White House and advising De Alencar to take care of herself. In total, the conversation lasted just under four minutes.
“It was a moment of niceness that we needed because we were going through hell,” De Alencar said.
De Alencar decided to share the video after she began receiving calls from reporters asking whether Trump had called following her husband’s death. “I just decided that since the question was being asked … there was no better of seeing it than showing it.”
It also gave her a chance to share her story. “I posted that video so that everyone could see that not only myself, not only my family, not only the people gave supported, but the Commander in Chief also helped.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The Post spoke to the families after Trump said Monday that he has “called every family of somebody that’s died,” unlike his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump later backed off from his comment when questioned further.
Subsequently, Trump became embroiled in a controversy with Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who said that the president told Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow that her husband “knew what he was signing up for.” Johnson’s husband was killed in an ambush in Niger.
Trump has denied Wilson’s account of the call, while Johnson’s aunt has backed up Wilson’s version of events.