Father of Slain Marine Finds Heartbreak Anew in Possible Russian Bounty

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

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

“If it does come out as true, obviously the heartache would be terrible,” Mr. Hendriks mentioned.

He shouldn’t be a political particular person, Mr. Hendriks insists. While he doesn’t normally vote, he described himself as a supporter of President Trump.

“I am a Republican and I am a Trump supporter,” he mentioned. “But there would be no way he didn’t know about it if Russians were paying off these cowards like mafia payoff hit men. I would expect the government to have 1,000 percent support behind these warriors.”

Despite the heartbreak of shedding a son in fight, Mr. Hendriks mentioned he by no means had doubts in regards to 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 United States’ position in Afghanistan.

“Thank God these warriors were there,” Mr. Hendriks mentioned. “I really do believe if they were not there, the enemy would be here. I know my son supported it.”

In a phone interview from his dwelling in Glen Cove, N.Y., Mr. Hendriks mentioned that “you would think they would have had the best intelligence and the best backing over there. If I find out this information was given to this administration or a previous administration, because let’s face it, who knows how long this could have gone on, the little faith I have in government 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 “living a nightmare.” She told CNBC on Monday “that the parties who are responsible should be held accountable, if that’s even possible.”

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

Robert Hendriks was 25 when he and two different Marines, Staff Sgt. Christopher Okay.A. Slutman, 43, a New York City firefighter, and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Penn., had 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 Garden City, 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 United States.

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

Indeed, his criticism of the conflict in Iraq through the marketing campaign and his want to significantly cut back the United States’ position overseas attracted many veterans. Mr. Trump has moved to scale back the quantity of troops in Afghanistan. While nonetheless widespread with veterans and members of the army, he has lost some support in current months over his risk to use active-duty troops towards largely peaceable protesters across the nation.

VoteVets, a liberal group, has teamed with Concerned 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 instant fury from some teams that characterize army households.

The Secure Families Initiative, which advocates on behalf of army households on overseas coverage issues, mentioned in an announcement: “These revelations should appall anyone. But as military families, we are particularly panicked and grief-stricken. Those are our loved ones living with a target on their back. Outrage does not even begin to cover it.”

This week, VoteVets created a video for social media focusing on Mr. Trump on the Russia subject, 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.

“This is pretty outrageous, quite frankly,” mentioned Kyle W. Bibby, who was a Marine infantry officer in Helmand, Afghanistan, in 2010 and 2011, and retired final yr as a captain. “This consistent theme of the Trump administration of overlooking things Russia has done has become ridiculous.”

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

“The general rule of thumb is when something like this takes place, you call it out for the obvious reason that continuing this hurts people who are serving there,” he mentioned. “At this point, we know that’s a basic expectation of a commander in chief. Donald Trump is not meeting that.”

But for Mr. Hendriks, a retired New York City Police detective, the problem shouldn’t be 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 talk to one thousand people a day and they have no idea what it is like to lay down at night and to lose a son like they do,” he mentioned.

Mr. Hendriks notes that he had no proof of what Mr. Trump knew. “Because who knows the truth anymore?” he mentioned.

Helene Cooper contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed analysis.

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