Rob Richards served three combat tours in Afghanistan, but his military career was ended by an infamous video clip that features Richards and three other Marine Corps snipers urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters. Then-defense Secretary Leon Panetta called it “utterly deplorable.”
On August 13, 2014, two years after the clip made its rounds on the internet, Richards died alone at home after overdosing on painkillers at the age of 28.
In mid-February, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, with a full military funeral. Richards was demoted after the video went public and he left the military, but he was not dishonorably discharged.
Richards’ wife, Raechel, told the Washington Post that her husband felt abandoned by the military as he was court-martialed for the 38-second clip that effectively ended his career. “He felt backed into a corner,” she said. “He always said, ‘It’s all I’ll ever be known for.’”
Before he overdosed, Richards battled depression and had received drug counseling for dependence on opiates. Raechel believed he was on the mend and they were planning to move to a new home near Orlando. “He was coming to terms with the fact that he was not going to be a Marine anymore and was going to have to be something else,” she said.
The day after his burial, Raechel was given a metal box with his remains. One side had a stencil of crossed rifles over a skull that had been pierced by a sniper’s bullet. The other side bore a quote from Hemingway that fit how Richards lived and died: “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.”
Over 300 people, including some of Richard’s Marine colleagues, attended the funeral.