By Ann Rowland
Marine Cpl. Robert Richards, 28, died at his home this past Wednesday. Richards had been at the center of an international scandal when a video showing him apparently urinating on dead Taliban insurgents was anonymously uploaded on to You Tube. They are waiting on the results of an autopsy and toxicology tests to determine the cause of death. It does not appear to be suicide.
Richards was medically retired at the time of his death. During a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, Richards was seriously wounded by an IED while on foot patrol. He sustained shrapnel injuries to his legs that required several surgeries. Despite his injuries, he was deployed to Afghanistan again in 2011 and it was during that deployment that the controversial video was taken.
Eight marines were disciplined as a result of the video. Richards faced court-martial and reached a plea deal last year which resulted in the lowering of his rank from sergeant to corporal. In his plea deal he acknowledged that he did not maintain good order and discipline and he brought discredit to the U. S. Military. The plea deal allowed him to avoid a bad conduct discharge and he was able to retain his military medical benefits.
Former Marine Captain James Clement deployed with Richards in 2011 and was one of those who disciplined after the video was released. Upon hearing about Richards’ death, Clement told Marine Corps Times “Rob was a tenacious warrior who endured three combat deployments, losing brothers in all, and nearly giving his own life on one. Despite grievous physical and emotional wounds, Rob never fled, and never surrendered.”
Clement expressed his personal frustration over the way in which this matter was handled. He believes there is a direct link between the case and Richard’s’ dean and wants Rob to be remembered for who he was and not just for this case.
“It is important that all future Marines remember Rob for who he was as a man, husband, and Marine,” he said. “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.”