London -- President Trump has said he "would not have minded" at all serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Mr. Trump avoided the U.S. military draft in place during the war by getting a medical deferment for bone spurs.
Before attending commemoration ceremonies in England and France marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II D-Day invasion by Allied forces, Mr. Trump was asked by British broadcaster Piers Morgan whether he wished he could have served in the Vietnam War.
The president told Morgan he was "never a fan" of the war, calling Vietnam a country that "nobody had ever heard of" in 1960s America before the conflict began.
But he said he would have been happy and honored to have served.
"I would not have minded that at all. I would've been honored, but I think I make up for it right now," Mr. Trump told Morgan. "I think I'm making up for it rapidly because we're rebuilding our military at a level that it's never seen before."
Mr. Trump's medical deferment from the draft came up repeatedly during his campaign for the White House in 2015 and 2016, and has resurfaced as a talking point among his Democratic challengers ahead of the coming election in 2020.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg accused President Trump last month of using his "privileged status to fake a disability" to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War.
"This is somebody, who I think it is fairly obvious to most of us, took advantage of the fact that he was a child of multimillionaire in order to pretend to be disabled so that somebody could go to war in his place," Buttigieg said of Mr. Trump.
During the presidential campaign in July 2015, the Trump campaign said Mr. Trump had a "medical deferment for bone spurs on both heels of his feet." The statement also said that Mr. Trump entered the military draft lottery and had received number 356 out of 365.
"When the draft occurred, they never got near his number, and he was therefore exempt from serving in the military," the Trump campaign said in a statement at the time. "Although he was not a fan of the Vietnam War, yet another disaster for our country, had his draft number been selected he would have proudly served and he is tremendously grateful to all those who did."
In a C-SPAN interview in October 2017, the late Sen. John McCain took a swipe at Mr. Trump over the deferment, saying it was "wrong" for him to have claimed to have bone spurs to avoid military service.