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CAMP LEJEUNE, NC (WWAY) — A Marine who shot a video of Marines urinating on Taliban fighters two years ago has pleaded guilty and been demoted.

The Marine Corps says Sgt. Robert W. Richards pleaded guilty during a summary court-martial at Camp Lejeune yesterday. He was demoted to corporal.

Richards was charged in January with dereliction of duty, violation of a lawful general order and conduct prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the armed forces. The Marine Corps says the allegations centered around Richards taking photographs of human casualties, including a video recording of him and other Marines urinating on the bodies, the indiscriminate firing of weapons, failure to properly supervise fellow Marines and failure to report misconduct. The incidents happened in July 2011 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

The incident came to light in January 2012, when a video appeared on YouTube allegedly depicting four US Marines urinating on dead Taliban. The incident became the subject of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation and two command investigations.

Richards’s court-martial resolves all cases of the Marines depicted in the video.

As a result of the investigations and subsequent legal actions, eight Marines have been punished for their involvement in this incident through non-judicial punishment or courts-martial, according to the USMC.

Comment on this Story

  • GuestSGT

    My time was spent in a little country you may have heard about, it’s called Vietnam. I was an 11Bravo if that means anything to you.

  • Snarkmeister General

    Dear 1SG America, you have piqued my curiosity. You have addressed yourself to Guest SGT as you think he or she might be this generation’s Jane Fonda. Guest SGT has identified him or herself as a veteran and you don’t. Are YOU really a veteran or just some weenie behind a keyboard? Guest SGT, thank you for your service and expressing what we as Americans believe.

  • 1SG America

    Dear Sir,

    The rank is Real and earned,23yrs Active Duty. I have 7 Combat tours under my belt as a 11B also, awarded the CIB w/star(Combat Infantry Badge for you civilian type). Tours in Saudi Arabia (Desert Storm/Shield), Bosnia, Afghanistan(OEF)and Iraq(OIF). So, as a VET, I sympathize with those Marines who did what they did. After dealing with people who would cut your head off on camera and go eat dinner right after with joy in their heart. I could care less if they their actions offended ANYONE! Unless you have been in the places we have and watched Brothers in Arms die due to those people. Have you forgotten Sept 11th 2001? Have you forgotten about the American citizens who where beheaded by these type’s of monsters for being AMERICAN. I don’t care if they pissed on them, not for a minute! So for another VET to say they hope these Marines are punished is ridicules!!!!!!!!


  • Guest-o-matic

    …for you service to our country and our freedom. You have to remember that there were certain individuals serving in Vietnam that kept themselves higher’n a kite most of the time, along with some that couldn’t muster up enough courage to fire their weapon when necessary. Vietnam was a tough place to be and I don’t intend to demean that by any means, but there are those that never should have had any business on the battlefield…any!

  • Snarkmeister General

    1SG America, first, thank you as well for your service. I am surprised that the Marine Corps judicial authorities even let this case get this far. 9/11, the video be-headings and many other documented atrocities do remain in my mind, NEVER to be forgotten. But for this story, I would have forgotten this incident and I wish the government and the press would have forgotten it too.

    I am fully sympathetic with the fact that the Marines who engaged in this incident were profoundly stressed due to the battle conditions they experienced and yes, they do deserve a break not punishment. You would know better than I if the UCMJ provides for any sort of psychiatric defenses. If it does, it would certainly have been in order for this case.

    I subscribe to the belief that we, as Americans should hold ourselves to higher and better moral standards than these enemies we are fighting. While I do favor forbearance and even forgiveness for these Marines, the behavior shown should not be tolerated.

  • guesty

    I agree 100% with you and thank you for your service. While we are fighting an opponent that uses a different type of warfare where women and children are not only used as weapons but shields, we have to ‘communicate’ to them in a language they understand.

  • Been There

    1SG America, I did make the trip to Taliban country and even spent a week in Musa Qala with the 3/2. Take some time and read the charge sheet against Sgt Richards. You might be surprised to find there were several other charges besides the urination including indiscriminate firing into a village despite no evidence of Taliban presence, throwing a grenade into a civilian compound again with no evidence of Taliban and an unlawful order to consider every civilian male old enough to carry a weapon as being a Taliban fighter. The Marines didn’t bother to even make a serious investigation into those charges because they suspected there were far more serious LOAC violations lurking in the background. They didn’t want the publicity. You should also check into why the 3/2 XO, Maj James B. Conway, was promoted to LTC and given battalion command within weeks after he returned from Aghanistan despite an ongoing investigation that at the very least cast doubt on his leadership ability. I will save you a little trouble. LTC Conway is the son of former Marine Corps Commandant Gen James Conway. I can certainly sympathize with any soldier facing the stress of combat, but I can never condone the kind of murdersous indiscriminate actions of this particular scout sniper team.

  • GuestUSMC

    Good thing they didn’t find out what some of us did to the Viet Cong to make them talk.

  • GuestSGT

    As a veteran, I was shocked and dismayed when I saw the footage of Marines urinating on the dead taliban guy. This is unacceptable behavior and they did not represent the USA very well.
    I’m glad to see he was punished and maybe some other troops will learn something from this.

  • Guest4396

    You ARE being sarcastic, are you not?

  • 1SG America

    Dear Guest SGT…

    If it bothered you so much, I would hope that you make a personal trip to Taliban country and offer your heart felt apology. I am sure they will welcome you with open arms and will connect with you wishing our Soldiers and Marines be punished for those actions. During your visit please go find a piece of artillery and have you pic taken on it with them also. Make sure that is published so we all can see you sympathizing with such fine outstanding individual’s.


    1SG America

  • Guest89732

    Private cameras have caused too many problems. Leave them at the barracks.

  • Guest Reply Redux

    How dare they Pee on a Taliban enemy…dead or alive? Though a live one would have been better than the World Series.
    All the Taliban do is torture/murder innocent people, so how dare US soldiers do this type of thing?
    PS: Wished they would have Crapped on it too!
    Does our Government really think their act lowered themselves to the Taliban’s standards? Maybe that’s what it takes…a language the Taliban really understand.

  • Guest1948



  • Guest-o-matic

    …the idiot that took the picture and the idiot that allowed it to be made public!
    As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to hooking up a battery to a talibans genitals, just remember: Red is positve and Black is negative!

    Looks like you sympathizers forgot all about The First Battle of Falluja a.k.a. Operation Vigilant Resolve. This was facilitated by the merciless killing of 4 Americans.

    “The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague, were killed by machine gun fire and a grenade thrown through a window of their SUVs. A mob then set their bodies ablaze, and their corpses were dragged through the streets before being hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates”

    Your memories getting any better yet? There’s more to the story with thousands of more situations. Read and understand history before making comments. Better yet, if you haven’t experienced the joys of combat, just read and understand history. Your comments aren’t needed!

  • outsmart

    of these marines was super stupid. like aaron hernandez stupid. an entire squad letting their guard down long enough to not only do something this dumb, but also record it shows an extreme loss and lack of true warrior mentality. you have to have the mind set in theater of attack or be attacked. these marines killed scrubs, not russian airborne infantry. how would the marine corp fare if they were fighting someone with: air, armor, artillery, night vision and commo?? the marine corp needs to re-learn how to bring their “a” game, otherwise when we fight real infantry, clowns like these marines (and many more) will be receiving the golden shower in the victims position.

  • Vog46

    about this is tough.
    I have always thought that part of our psyche has always been one of “American Exceptionalism”. When Japanese soldiers committed the rape of Nanking, we stood tall against it. When we liberated the death camps were were repulsed by what we saw.
    Americans ARE supposed to be better – it’s what we “do”.
    We try to adhere to the Geneva convention and actually go beyond it at times. Why? Because we’re Americans.

    I find the act committed by these soldiers to be repugnant. No matter what the Germans did to us in WWII, the N Korans did to us in Korea, and the abominable conditions are the N Vietnamese prison camps – we are supposed to be BETTER than this.
    These soldiers know this……..it’s disappointing


  • Guest-o-matic

    While I agree that those soldiers actions were unwarranted, unprofessional and even somewhat childish, their behavior of urinating on dead enemies that don’t even wear a uniform comes nowhere even close to the rape of a living soul, nothing even resembling the horrors known about in the German death camps or the atrocities commited on Americans in the Korean and Vietnamese “conflicts”. You’re comparing watermelons to chick-peas here at best.

    Yeah, it wasn’t a nice thing to do. No, it wasn’t representative of the USMC. Largely, it was a dumb stunt, by dumb soldiers that was discovered and exploited by the media that is ALWAYS hell-bent to knock down the efforts of our US military. The same guys that put their life on the line so that the media has the freedom to demean them AND their efforts to the eyes of the general public.

  • Vog46

    It follows that if we don’t do the big things we wouldn’t do the small things either.
    What YOU don’t get is that we were taught NOT to do those things because we are Americans.
    The minute we stop being Americans we become no better than the rest of the world.

    Our country is far better than these Marines portrayed it.



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