What caused this Marine sniper's mysterious death?
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/15/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A 28-year-old, medically retired, Marine who was at the center of a controversial video was found dead at his North Carolina home on the night of August 13.
Corporal Rob Richards in Afghanistan. The Marine sniper was filmed in a controversial video urinating on dead Taliban terrorists.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The death of former Corporal Robert Richards was confirmed a day later by Guy Womack, a lawyer who represented Richards in his legal battle with the Marine Corps after a video of him urinating on a dead Islamic terrorist was published on YouTube in January of 2012.
Womack said that the death does not appear to have been a suicide, and the cause of death will not be known until after autopsy and toxicology tests are completed. Richards' funeral will be likely be held at Arlington National Cemetery.
Richards deployed to Afghanistan three times between 2008 and 2011, and while on a patrol in March of 2010 he was nearly killed by an improvised explosive device in the Marjah district of the Helmand province. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his legs, arms, groin and throat, which required at least six surgeries to fix.
"Rob was a tenacious warrior who endured three combat deployments, losing brothers in all, and nearly giving his own life on one," said former Captain James Clement, who deployed with him in 2011. "Despite grievous physical and emotional wounds, Rob never fled, and never surrendered."
In an interview with the Marine Corps Times in 2013, Richards acknowledged his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and night terrors. He said he was taking a variety of medications to deal with it.
During the interview he recounted one night in Florida, where a celebration was going on involving the firing of replica cannons. He was caught off-guard and fired his pistol in his hotel room, thinking he was under attack.
"It is important that all future Marines remember Rob for who he was as a man, husband, and Marine," said Clement. "It is the responsibility of all future Marines to remember Rob and what his leaders did to him, so what happened to him never happens again."
Officials at Marine Corps headquarters released a statement following news of the death: "We are aware of reports regarding the tragic passing of retired Marine Cpl. Robert W. Richards. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends."
During the 2013 interview, Richards was regretful of urinating on the Taliban, a move which saw him be court-martialed and was highly polarizing among the Marine Corps
He expressed regret for the attention the video brought the Marines in his battalion and attributed their actions to the desecration of the body of one of their fellow Marines who had been killed by insurgents a few weeks prior.
"When you're under that much stress and in that environment, your whole mental being changes. You're no longer Joe the Family Man," he said. "You're a warrior, and if you read back to biblical wars and wars since the dawn of time, men have been doing this to men for millennia."
Richards's interview showed he did not know what would happen to him after leaving the Marine Corps. He hoped he wouldn't be remembered just for appearing in the video.
"That's the only thing I was really good at in life, being a Marine sniper, and I'll miss it every day," Richards said. "I wish I could go back if I had known all this would happen, but I don't know what I would do. I guess the only thing is, I can't have any regrets. Everything happens for a reason."
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