Melania Trump 1st Flotus To Visit A Combat Zone Since 1969?
A recent Facebook post claims that First Lady Melania Trump is the only presidential wife to “visit troops inside a combat zone since 1969”. The post has over 1,500 shares and was made by the Facebook page “President Trump Fans”.
The post is referring to the event when Melania Trump traveled with her husband President Donald Trump to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018, as covered by the BBC. The post does not contain any source for the claim that no other First Lady has visited any combat zone since 1969. The 1969 instance refers to Pat Nixon’s visit to South Vietnam when she accompanied President Richard Nixon.
While the post doesn’t clearly define a “combat zone”, according to the definition used by the IRS: a combat zone is a general term that refers to “hostile areas where the military may serve: actual combat areas, direct combat support areas, and qualified hazardous duty areas”.
By this definition, former First Lady Michelle Obama has visited a combat zone when she traveled to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar during 2015, as reported by the US Department of Defense. Similarly, former First Lady Laura Bush has made two trips to visit troops in combat zones in Afghanistan, first in 2005 and the second in 2008. In 1990, Barbara Bush visited Saudi Arabia during Operation: Desert Shield, the initial phase of the Gulf War.
While this is not an exhaustive list of First Ladies that may have visited combat zones or hostile areas, it disproves the claim made by the original post that Melania Trump is the only First Lady to do so since 1969.