Rob Richards, who left the military in 2013 under a cloud of controversy after video circulated of him and members of his platoon urinating on dead Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, had his cremated remains buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia this month.
NY Daily News “He served with honor … gave so much … and bled for our freedom,” a Navy chaplain said at the somber proceeding, as Richards’ mom, wife and grandfather, a veteran himself, looked on, the Washington Post reported. “Today we lay him to rest in a fitting place.”
Richards died last August of an accidental prescription drug overdose. He was 28 and survived three tours of duty in Afghanistan as a Marine sniper.
His wife, Raechel, found his body on the floor of their home in Camp Lejeune, N.C., after he struggled for months with opiate abuse, she told the Washington Post.
The couple planned to move to Orlando, Fla., where they would get a new start, away from the 2013 court martial that ended with Richards given a plea deal that reduced his rank to corporal and an honorable discharge from the military.
Despite his decorated career and dedication to his country, Richards’ time abroad was judged — and vilified — on the nearly 40 second video, released anonymously on YouTube in January 2012.
Richards and three comrades were filmed peeing on Taliban soldiers they had just shot dead. The killings, as well as the desecration of the bodies, were in retaliation for a Marine killed by the Taliban who had a limb severed and hung from a tree, according to former Sgt. Edward Deptola, who was Richards’s platoon sergeant.
Deptola was also court martialed in the incident and demoted one rank for his role.
“Someone said, ‘Piss on these guys?’, ” a Marine told the Washington Post while recalling what had happened years earlier in Afghanistan the night before the funeral. “And someone else was like, ‘Yeah, you know what, let’s piss on them.’ ”
“Because killing them wasn’t enough,” Deptola said. “That wasn’t enough justice.”
Most of the Marines involved in the incident have spoken out, saying they have no regrets about what they did that day.
Roberts, who didn’t publicly condone or condemn his actions, had shown symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder stemming from his tours but had “finally come to terms with” the fact that the video would follow him the rest of his life.
He felt backed into a corner,” his wife Raechel told the Washington Post. “He always said, ‘It’s all I’ll ever be known for.’ ”
She thought the couple had turned a corner and was prepared for a different life in Florida when tragedy struck. They’d briefly separated and he had gone to drug counseling for his pill addiction.
Her husband’s remains were buried in a canister bearing a favorite Ernest Hemingway quote: “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”