Published June 03, 2009
President Obama's great uncle, Charlie Payne, will join the presidential entourage for D-Day commemorative events in Normandy, France, this Saturday.
A Chicago resident, Payne declined an invitation to accompany the president to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany -- a sub-camp of which Payne helped liberate during World War II -- because he would have had to go on the entire five-day trip the president is currently taking. through the Middle East.
Payne declined the full trip because it would have been too taxing on the 84-year-old man, a senior administration official told FOX News Wednesday.
When the White House learned over the weekend that Veterans' Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki would be flying directly to Normandy with other luminaries such as Bob and Elizabeth Dole and Susan Eisenhower, arrangements were quickly made to get Payne on that flight.
During the presidential campaign, Obama misspoke and said Payne had helped liberate Auschwitz, not Ohrdruf camp in Buchenwald, a flap that drew fire from Republicans.
In a recent interview with German magazine "Der Spiegel," Payne suggested that his nephew's trip to Buchenwald was purely political.
"This is a trip that he chose, not because of me I'm sure, but for political reasons," he said.
Payne is the brother of Obama's late grandmother Madelyn Dunham.