A Marine Corps combat veteran who endured a long, public legal battle with the service’s senior leadership was found dead Wednesday night.
Retired Cpl. Robert Richards, 28, died at his home in Jacksonville, North Carolina, according to Guy Womack, Richards’ attorney and friend. An autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death, Womack said, adding that it does not appear to be self-inflicted. A medical examiner will look at the mix of medication Richards was taking, he said.
Richards was a scout sniper with multiple deployments to Afghanistan, including one in 2010 during which he sustained severe injuries. Peers and superiors alike praised him for his combat prowess and leadership skills, evidenced by his being hand-selected to serve as the scout sniper platoon team leader for 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, during its 2011 tour.
It was during that deployment when Richards and three other Marines made a video of themselves urinating on Taliban corpses. The video surfaced online in January 2012, causing an international uproar. But the Marine Corps’ prosecution of Richards and others connected to the incident would become overshadowed by allegations that the service’s commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, and his legal advisers manipulated the military justice process to ensure they were punished harshly. A Pentagon investigation did not substantiate those claims.
News of Richards’ death shocked those close to him. Joseph Chamblin, who tapped Richards’ to be the sniper platoon’s team leader in 2011, called his friend “one of the best snipers I ever knew.”
James Clement, who like Chamblin was prosecuted as a result of the urination video, described Richards as “a magnificent Marine leader.” Clement, who was separated from the service as a captain, served as the executive officer of Kilo Company, 3/2. Richards death, Clement said, is a “terrible tragedy.”
“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 said. “…My prayers are with his wife Raechel and all of his family and friends — their unwavering support of Rob is an example to us all. It is important that all future Marines remember Rob for who he was as a man, husband and Marine.”
Richards is expected to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, Womack said. Complete arrangements are pending.
Full article: Marine sniper involved in controversial video found dead (Marine Corps Times)