Death of a Marine and Political Correctness

First, a little history…

The U.S. declared war on Spain in April 1898. It would be the first overseas war fought by our nation, involving campaigns in both Cuba and the Philippine Islands.

Following the end of the war, another conflict began, this time between the Moro and the U.S. which also took place in the Philippines between 1899 and 1913. The Moro or Bangsamoro are Muslim and were at the time, attacking and killing American servicemen.

Since Islam is the dominant influence of the Moro culture and pork and pork byproducts are forbidden, one U.S. Army Cavalry officer in 1911 devised a plan to deal with the Moro’s using their culture against them.

“It was Colonel Alexander Rodgers of the 6th Cavalry who accomplished by taking advantage of religious prejudice what the bayonets and Krags had been unable to accomplish,” writes Vic Hurley in his 1938 book, ‘Jungle Patrol’ about the conflict. “Rodgers inaugurated a system of burying all dead juramentados in a common grave with the carcasses of slaughtered pigs.”

One-hundred-years later…

After weeks of observation, Marine Sergeant Rob Richards and his fellow scout snipers took out a Taliban leader in Afghanistan responsible for killing two of their fellow Marines. The Taliban desecrated one of those Marines’ bodies by hanging his leg in a tree as a message.

Then a video showing Richards and his fellow snipers standing over the dead leader and another fighter, urinating on them, surfaced on YouTube a year later. This prompted an investigation by the U.S. Marine Corps.

One of eight Marines to face discipline as a result, Richards pleaded guilty to failing to obey a lawful order, failure to maintain good order and for actions bringing discredit to the armed forces. The deal let him avoid a bad-conduct discharge that would have eliminated his VA medical benefits.

“We were cheering at the time because, I don’t know how much I can get into it, but he was a high-value target or a person of great interest,” Richards explained in an interview with the Marine Corps Times. “I guess one thing led to another and, jokingly, four of us took a piss on him. Looking back, I know it sounds kind of taboo or distasteful doing it, but at the time it was just hilarious. It made sense. It was just another ordinary day.”

Richards was found dead in his Jacksonville, North Carolina, home in August 2014, his death the result of an adverse reaction to his pain meds. So now, the once vilified Marine lays at rest in Arlington National Cemetery, in a canister bearing his 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.”

Thus is the price of political correctness in today’s U.S. military.

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About Tom Darby

French-born, American-raised, U.S. citizen, husband, father, friend, veteran, and writer.
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