Father of Slain Marine Finds Heartbreak Anew in Potential Russian Bounty

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

However the information that a number of American officers consider {that a} Russian army 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 realized 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, obviously the heartache would be terrible,” Mr. Hendriks mentioned.

He’s not a political individual, Mr. Hendriks insists. Whereas he doesn’t often 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.”

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 america’ function 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 residence 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 informed CNBC on Monday “that the parties who are responsible should be held accountable, if that’s even possible.”

Lawmakers from each events within the Home and Senate have referred to as for Congress to be briefed on the fees. On Monday, the White Home introduced in eight Home 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, Employees Sgt. Christopher Ok.A. Slutman, 43, a New York Metropolis firefighter, and Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Penn., have 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 primarily based in Backyard Metropolis, N.Y., proper after highschool.

It was his first deployment to Afghanistan, the place he was serving together with his brother, Joseph Hendriks, who escorted his physique again to america.

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

Certainly, his criticism of the battle in Iraq through the marketing campaign and his want to enormously cut back america’ function overseas attracted many veterans. Mr. Trump has moved to cut back the variety of troops in Afghanistan. Whereas nonetheless in style with veterans and members of the army, he has misplaced some help in latest months over his use of 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 foyer members on Capitol Hill towards a “forever war.”

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

The Safe Households Initiative, which advocates on behalf of army households on international coverage issues, mentioned in a press release: “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 problem, 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 12 months 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 have been usually informed that different nations — notably Iran — have 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.”

However for Mr. Hendriks, a retired New York Metropolis Police detective, the difficulty just 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 battle may 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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