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.
De Alencar was killed during a firefight with Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan. He was a member of the 7th Special Forces Group.
He left behind five children – Octavia, Deshaun, Rodrigo, Tatiyana and Marcos – 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.
De Alencar picked up the phone, surrounded by her children in the living room, and turned on the speakerphone.
After she 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 the call by saying how sorry he is about the “whole situation,” before adding that De Alencar’s husband is “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, Missouri.
De Alencar told Trump that her son 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, and 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 before 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.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
De Alencar’s is one of 13 Gold Star families contacted by the Post, as part of a larger story about Trump’s relationships with Gold Star families. Seven of the families, including De Alencar’s, said they had phone conversations with Trump.