What we know about the death of a former Green Beret in Iraq, who was reportedly injured in a brawl with US troops

1st Lt. Leland White/US Army National GuardUS Soldiers deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve await aerial extraction during an exercise in Iraq. President Trump made an uneasy connection between veterans and violence that experts say is not supported by evidence.
  • A military contractor’s recent non combat-related death in Iraq could have serious implications for the US Special Operations Forces.
  • The contractor, an Army veteran who served 20 years as a Green Beret, died in what has been described as a violent brawl with US military service members.
  • Citing an anonymous military official, The Daily Beast reported two enlisted Marines hit the contractor in an “atmosphere of bravado and trash-talking” on New Year’s Eve.
  • According to the Beast, a family member said he was then flown to Landstuhl, Germany, for treatment, where his family eventually decided to take him off of life support.
  • Rick Rodriguez’s decorations include five Bronze Stars, the nation’s fourth-highest award for meritorious service or heroism in a combat zone.

A military contractor who served as an Army Green Beret for 20 years was fatally injured on New Year’s Eve in an apparent fratricide, according to The Daily Beast, the latest tragedy that is heightening scrutiny of America’s elite special operations forces.

After the incident, which was first reported by The New York Times, Rick Rodriguez was flown to Germany from Erbil, Iraq, where he was based as a Lockheed Martin contractor. Following the initial report, the Beast spoke with an aunt of the contractor, who said she is still waiting for details about her nephew’s death.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a military official told the Beast that two Marine Corps gunnery sergeants are considered persons of interest in what was described as a violent brawl. It is unclear exactly what sparked the violence, but the Beast reported there were witnesses when Rodriguez was “stomped into unconsciousness.”

He was then flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where his family eventually decided to take him off of life support, his aunt told the Beast.

Rodriguez spent over 20 years in the Army Special Forces, according to Marine Corps Times. He deployed four times to Afghanistan, and between 2008 and 2011 spent less than a year outside the combat zone, the Times reported. His decorations include five Bronze Stars, the nation’s fourth-highest award for meritorious service or heroism in a combat zone.

Lockheed Martin did not identify Rodriguez in its statement, but said the company was “saddened to learn of the loss of one of our employees, who was fatally injured while supporting Special Operations Forces within the Operation Inherent Resolve area of operations in a noncombat-related incident,” according to the Times.

The incident, described by the Beast as a fratricide, is the latest in a slew of alleged misconduct for the elite and secretive US Special Operations Forces.

Two Navy SEALs and two Marine raiders have been charged in the alleged strangling of an Army Green Beret in Mali last year. According to the charges, Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was killed after he discovered the four had been skimming operational funds.

Another SEAL, who will begin court-martial proceedings in February, has been accused of murdering a wounded ISIS fighter while on deployment in Iraq. Navy SEAL Chief Edward Gallagher also faces accusations that he attempted to blackmail fellow SEALs who he believed had cooperated with investigators.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.