Some of America’s best and brightest warriors are being held in a judicial purgatory, denied their rights to a fair and speedy trial…if a trial is even warranted. Here’s what you need to know about the MARSOC 3
The MARSOC 3 Case
It was a cold New Year’s Eve in Erbil, Kurdistan – a first world region within the third world country of Iraq. As three decorated Raiders (Marine Corps Special Operators), each with over 18 years of military service, were preparing to leave the local establishment where military personnel, contractors, and civilians had been celebrating, they had no idea what was waiting for them.
In the early morning hours of January 1, 2020, an American contractor, Rick Rodriguez, was kicked out of the local establishment for his aggressive behavior toward Navy Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet – a Special Operations Medic. Rodriguez, a retired Green Beret, was under the impression that Gilmet had disrespected him while at the base gym previously.
After the drunken Rodriguez and his group of friends had been kicked out, a confused Gilmet waited with the other two Raiders– Gunnery Sergeants Danny Draher and Josh Negron. Once the Raiders were cleared to leave, they found that Rodriguez was waiting for them as they walked to their vehicle.The highly inebriated Rodriguez suddenly snapped and landed two unanswered punches to the face of Draher, and as the third punch was being thrown, Negron stepped in to block the incoming assault and dropped the contractor with a single punch.
All of this was caught on video. Rodriguez’s friends scattered, leaving the Raiders to bring him back to base to care for him through the night. Unexpectedly, Rodriguez became unresponsive and, after Gilmet performed lifesaving measures, was rushed to a hospital in Germany where he would die four days after choking on his own vomit from his intoxicated state.
Now the Raiders are awaiting trial for this case of self-defense.
The Aftermath…So Far
Draher, Negron, and Gilmet – known as the MARSOC 3 – have each been charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, obstructing justice, and violations of orders from the incident which took place more than two and half years ago.
Americans should be concerned with this case being dragged on for so long in spite of these facts:
- During the subsequent Article 32 hearing, video evidence and testimony from the lead investigator confirmed that Rodriguez was the aggressor and sole instigator in the incident and that the Marines did not use excessive force, nor did they attempt to obstruct justice.
- Despite that evidence, MARSOC leaders have contradicted their own core beliefs by neglecting to support the accused and their families, punishing the accused by taking away pay and promotions, and suspending their security clearances.
- The accused are being sent to a general court-martial — which carries the most severe punishment — despite video evidence that shows self-defense, and by inexplicably including charges that were found to have no grounds during the Article 32 fact-finding process.
- Not once in the past year and a half has MARSOC contacted the MARSOC 3 or their families to check on their well-being or to offer support. Yet in early 2019, the commander of MARSOC personally attended the funeral of Rick Rodriguez, which signaled his support for Rodriguez over his own Marines.
What You Can Do:
Meanwhile, the MARSOC 3 and their families have also been accruing staggering amounts of legal fees as a result of this case — with no end in sight.
Concerned Americans can support the MARSOC 3 by visiting this donation page to provide them with some financial relief for their legal fees.
You can also support them by sharing this story with your friends and family, and by contacting your representatives to demanding an independent investigation and dismissal of the case by the Department of Justice.
Featured image courtesy of Lloyd Wainwright Photography.