Donald Trump might not be an actual veteran, but the Republican presidential candidate claims he “always felt that I was in the military,” thanks to his time at a military-themed boarding school.
In an interview for the forthcoming biography Never Enough, the man who has upended the 2016 presidential race talked in typically blunt terms about how his high school years spent at New York Military Academy provided him with “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military,” according to quotes provided to The New York Times.
Trump, 69, entered the school located near West Point Military Academy in 1959 in the eighth grade at the insistence of his parents because of his poor behavior back home in Queens, and remained there through high school.
Later, the burgeoning real estate mogul received multiple deferments during the Vietnam War followed by a high draft number, and told biographer Michael Mr. D’Antonio that even though he never officially served, his training at the school was in keeping with the rigors of military life.
“My number was so incredible, and it was a very high draft number. Anyway, so I never had to do that, but I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people,” he said per the Times, confirming he received a medical deferment for heel spurs.
Trump came under fire earlier this year for criticizing the military record of Sen. John McCain, a onetime Republican presidential nominee and decorated Vietnam War veteran who spent several years in captivity.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said in July. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
According to the Times, the book repeatedly demonstrates that Trump’s straightforward, ambitious style has remained unchanged since his youth.
As his New York Military Academy mentor Theodore Dobias reportedly explained it, the businessman was “a conniver, even then.”
“[He] just wanted to be first in everything,” Dobias also said, per the newspaper. “And he wanted people to know he was first.”
His two ex-wives paint a similar picture in interviews for the biography. First ex-wife Ivanka Trump recounted an incident where her then-husband stomped off when she passed him on the ski slope in Aspen.
“He could not take it, that I could do something better than he did,” she said, per the Times.
Second ex-wife Marla Maples described him this way: “The little boy that still wants attention.”
For his part, Trump – who reportedly admitted in the book that he once gave a music teacher a black eye “because I didn’t think he knew anything about music” – acknowledges that he hasn’t changed much since childhood. And as expected, he makes no apologies for it.
“When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same,” he said. “The temperament is not that different.”
Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success hits bookstores Sept. 22.