Tina Peters often begins interviews by saying she is a Gold Star mother, and that her son, a Navy Seal, died in 2017. Her Gold Star Mother status also often generates sympathetic headlines like this one from “Creative Destruction Media” on November 17, 2021:
Steve Bannon introduced Tina on his show by saying she was a Gold Star mother whose son gave his life “in defense of the country,” and Tina did nothing to stop Bannon or correct him.
The truth is that while Peters’ son was in the military and did serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, he did not die in combat, nor did he die defending his country. His name does not appear in the National Gold Star Family Registry, hence Tina Peters is not a Gold Star Mother.
Peters’ son, Remington Peters, was killed on Sunday, May 28, 2017, in a parachuting accident that occurred during an air show in New Jersey on Memorial Day weekend. He was part of the Navy Seal Leap Frogs team that was giving a parachuting demonstration for people gathered to see the air show.
While the military ruled Remington’s death was in the line of duty, he did not die in combat, nor did he die “defending his country.” Under the law, to be in the Gold Star Registry a deceased soldier must have been “engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States,” “engaged in military operations involving with an opposing foreign force,” “be part of a military force on foreign soil as part of a peacekeeping force,” or fulfill other criteria defined by an Act of Congress.
Remington Peters jumped out of a helicopter over the Hudson River at an altitude of 8,500 feet with a team of parachutists around noon that day to perform stunts like carrying a huge American flag through the air and leaving trails of colored smoke in the sky. Peters wore a wing suit and had a smoke bracket attached to his leg. After jumping, Peters’ primary parachute lines became entangled. He struggled to free himself for about 40 seconds, then gave up and cut away the tangled parachute in an attempt to use his reserve chute. But he acted too late, and encountered another problem when the lines to his reserve chute became entangled with the smoke bracket attached to his leg. Without a functioning parachute, Peters then plunged into the Hudson River, and was pronounced dead less than an hour later, after the Coast Guard and Jersey City Fire Department pulled him from the water and transported him to a local hospital.
An analysis of the accident done by the military said “The Navy is working through ways to prevent such a case from happening again … For example, officials are alerting units that smoke brackets could snag on uniforms, making it harder to conduct emergency parachute procedures.” The report also said that each member of the Leap Frogs packs his own supplies the day of a demonstration.
Sadly, Remington Peters’ death was an entirely unnecessary one that occurred in the service of entertainment, not in combat. As such, it did not fulfill the criteria to be included in the National Gold Star Family Registry.
Reporting on the incident, the New York Times quoted a woman attending the event who said, “It’s so unnecessary, just to entertain people, for someone to have died.”