Father of Slain Marine Finds Heartbreak Anew in Possible Russian Bounty

    Father of Slain Marine Finds Heartbreak Anew in Possible Russian Bounty

    WASHINGTON — Erik Hendriks has largely prevented information stories since his son, Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, was killed by a car bomb in Afghanistan final April.

    However the information that a number of American officers consider {that a} Russian navy intelligence unit paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan has been unimaginable to disregard, particularly as he has discovered that the assault through which his son and two different Marines died might have been associated to that effort.

    “If it does come out as true, clearly the heartache can be horrible,” Mr. Hendriks mentioned.

    He’s not a political particular person, Mr. Hendriks insists. Whereas he doesn’t normally vote, he described himself as a supporter of President Trump.

    “I’m a Republican and I’m a Trump supporter,” he mentioned. “However there can be no approach he didn’t learn about it if Russians had been paying off these cowards like mafia payoff hit males. I’d anticipate the federal government to have 1,000 % help behind these warriors.”

    Regardless of the heartbreak of shedding a son in fight, Mr. Hendriks mentioned he by no means had doubts concerning the mission in Afghanistan.

    “I agreed with Mattis on this,” he mentioned, referring to Jim Mattis, the retired Marine normal who served as Mr. Trump’s first protection secretary and repeatedly defended the US’ function in Afghanistan.

    “Thank God these warriors had been there,” Mr. Hendriks mentioned. “I actually do consider in the event that they weren’t there, the enemy can be right here. I do know my son supported it.”

    In a phone interview from his residence in Glen Cove, N.Y., Mr. Hendriks mentioned that “you’ll suppose they might have had the very best intelligence and the very best backing over there. If I discover out this data was given to this administration or a earlier administration, as a result of let’s face it, who is aware of how lengthy this might have gone on, the little religion I’ve in authorities would go down the drain.”

    Felicia Arculeo, Cpl. Hendriks’s mom, and Erik Hendriks’s former spouse, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark, however Mr. Hendriks described her as “residing a nightmare.” She told CNBC on Monday “that the events who’re accountable ought to be held accountable, if that’s even potential.”

    Lawmakers from each events within the Home and Senate have known as for Congress to be briefed on the costs. On Monday, the White Home introduced in eight Home Republicans to be briefed, whereas some Democrats had been scheduled to go to the White Home Tuesday morning.

    Robert Hendriks was 25 when he and two different Marines, Workers Sgt. Christopher Ok.A. Slutman, 43, a New York Metropolis firefighter, and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Penn., had been killed when their armored automobile struck a roadside bomb close to Bagram Air Base, about 20 miles north of Kabul.

    Cpl. Hendriks had signed with the Second Battalion, 25th Marines, a reserve infantry battalion based mostly in Backyard Metropolis, N.Y., proper after highschool.

    It was his first deployment to Afghanistan, the place he was serving along with his brother, Joseph Hendriks, who escorted his body again to the US.

    Throughout his 2016 marketing campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised to finish the overseas entanglements that had engulfed earlier administrations over 20 years.

    Certainly, his criticism of the conflict in Iraq throughout the marketing campaign and his need to tremendously cut back the US’ function overseas attracted many veterans. Mr. Trump has moved to scale back the variety of troops in Afghanistan. Whereas nonetheless standard with veterans and members of the navy, he has misplaced some help in current months over his use of active-duty troops in opposition to largely peaceable protesters across the nation.

    VoteVets, a liberal group, has teamed with Involved Veterans for America, a conservative group aligned with Mr. Trump on many coverage points, to oppose abroad interventions and foyer members on Capitol Hill in opposition to a “without end conflict.”

    The accusations in opposition to Russia and questions round what the president knew about them drew speedy fury from some teams that characterize navy households.

    The Safe Households Initiative, which advocates on behalf of navy households on overseas coverage issues, mentioned in an announcement: “These revelations ought to appall anybody. However as navy households, we’re significantly panicked and grief-stricken. These are our family members residing with a goal on their again. Outrage doesn’t even start to cowl it.”

    This week, VoteVets created a video for social media focusing on Mr. Trump on the Russia challenge, which was watched over three million occasions on Twitter.

    The revelations of intelligence pointing towards a Russian bounty program have added to the frustration and frustration of some veterans.

    “That is fairly outrageous, fairly frankly,” mentioned Kyle W. Bibby, who was a Marine infantry officer in Helmand, Afghanistan, in 2010 and 2011, and retired final 12 months as a captain. “This constant theme of the Trump administration of overlooking issues Russia has performed has turn into ridiculous.”

    Mr. Bibby mentioned that in his time in Afghanistan, Marines had been typically instructed that different international locations — notably Iran — had been backing what he known as “malign” actions by insurgents in opposition to American troops.

    “The overall rule of thumb is when one thing like this takes place, you name it out for the apparent cause that persevering with this hurts people who find themselves serving there,” he mentioned. “At this level, we all know that’s a fundamental expectation of a commander in chief. Donald Trump isn’t assembly that.”

    However for Mr. Hendriks, a retired New York Metropolis Police detective, the difficulty isn’t a political debate, however a deep emotional scar, one thing that he mentioned solely others who’ve misplaced a member of the family to conflict might comprehend.

    “I can discuss to 1 thousand folks a day and so they do not know what it’s like to put down at evening and to lose a son like they do,” he mentioned.

    Mr. Hendriks notes that he had no proof of what Mr. Trump knew. “As a result of who is aware of the reality anymore?” he mentioned.

    Helene Cooper contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.

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