Father of Slain Marine Finds Heartbreak Anew in Attainable Russian Bounty


WASHINGTON — Erik Hendriks has largely averted 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 imagine {that a} Russian military intelligence unit paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan has been unattainable to disregard, particularly as he has realized that the assault by which his son and two different Marines died could have been associated to that effort.

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

He isn’t 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 stated. “However there could be no method he didn’t learn about it if Russians have been paying off these cowards like mafia payoff hit males. I’d count on the federal government to have 1,000 % assist behind these warriors.”

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

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

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

In a phone interview from his dwelling in Glen Cove, N.Y., Mr. Hendriks stated that “you’ll suppose they might have had the most effective intelligence and the most effective backing over there. If I discover out this info 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 “dwelling a nightmare.” She told CNBC on Monday “that the events who’re accountable must 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 brought in eight House Republicans to be briefed, whereas some Democrats have been scheduled to go to the White Home Tuesday morning.

Robert Hendriks was 25 when he and two different Marines, Workers Sgt. Christopher Okay.A. Slutman, 43, a New York Metropolis firefighter, and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Penn., have been killed when their armored automobile was hit by a automobile facet 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 primarily based 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 america.

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

Certainly, his criticism of the conflict in Iraq through the marketing campaign and his want to vastly scale back america’ position overseas attracted many veterans. Mr. Trump has moved to cut back the variety of troops in Afghanistan. Whereas nonetheless widespread with veterans and members of the army, he has lost some support in latest months over his risk to use active-duty troops towards 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 lobby members on Capitol Hill against a “forever war.”

The accusations towards Russia and questions round what the president knew about them drew quick fury from some teams that signify army households.

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

This week, VoteVets created a video for social media concentrating on Mr. Trump on the Russia concern, 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,” stated Kyle W. Bibby, who was a Marine infantry officer in Helmand, Afghanistan, in 2010 and 2011, and retired final yr as a captain. “This constant theme of the Trump administration of overlooking issues Russia has performed has turn into ridiculous.”

Mr. Bibby stated that in his time in Afghanistan, Marines have been usually advised that different nations — notably Iran — have been backing what he known as “malign” actions by insurgents towards American troops.

“The final rule of thumb is when one thing like this takes place, you name it out for the plain motive that persevering with this hurts people who find themselves serving there,” he stated. “At this level, we all know that’s a primary expectation of a commander in chief. Donald Trump shouldn’t be assembly that.”

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

“I can speak to 1 thousand folks a day they usually don’t know what it’s like to put down at evening and to lose a son like they do,” he stated.

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 stated.

Helene Cooper contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.





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