Patriot Dreams: The Murder of Colonel Rich Higgins

Patriot Dreams: The Murder of Colonel Rich Higgins

Peterson, Gordon I

Patriot Dreams: The Murder of Colonel Rich Higgins, by Lt. Col. Robin L. Higgins, USMC (Ret.). Quantico, Va.: The Marine Corps Association, 1999.199 pp. $29.95 (hardbound)/$14.95 (softbound). [Phone: (800) 336-0291, ext. 336; Internet: www.gazette @ mca– marines-org] With 26 black-and-white photographs.

Reviewed by Gordon I. Peterson Senior Editor

U.S. Marines will muster at their duty stations at sea and ashore around the world on 10 November for their traditional observance of the Corps’ founding by the Continental Congress 224 years ago. One would be hard-pressed to select a single volume that does more to paint such an eloquent and heartfelt portrait of what it means to be an officer of Marines than Lt. Col. Robin L. Higgins’ moving account of the harrowing ordeal of her husband’s capture and murder by Iranian– backed terrorists in Lebanon 11 years ago.

Higgins sweeps away the passage of a decade to a time when the war with international terrorism was at its height. Her husband, Lt. Col. William R. (Rich) Higgins, was serving in the final months of his assignment as the chief of the United Nations’ Military Observer Group in Lebanon when he was pulled from his jeep on 17 February 1988 while returning to his command center from a meeting with representatives from a Shi’ite group with ties to the fundamentalist Hezbollah organization.

More than a year would elapse before a gruesome videotape was released by his captors that documented his murder -by hanging. In December 1991, his partially decomposed remains were dumped along the side of a road in Beirut. Following their return to the United States, the Marine Corps conducted a full-honors burial ceremony at Quantico National Cemetery–close to where the fallen Marine and peacekeeper began his military career in 1967.

Robin Higgins, who was serving as a Marine Corps public affairs officerassigned to the Department of Defense -at the time of her husband’s capture, relates her efforts to do all in her power to secure his release. She refutes the often erroneous-and frequently harmful-inaccuracies surrounding her husband’s capture that were expounded by numerous journalists and by a number of U.N. and U.S. government officials as well. She describes the heart-wrenching frustration of dealing with uncaring and unhelpful bureaucratic functionaries in the United Nations and at the U.S. State Department who took virtually no meaningful steps to secure her husband’s release during the months leading to his execution. In the words of former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Alfred M. Gray Jr., “We… marvel at how she continued to serve as a Marine officer with dignity and distinction.”

“Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.” Those words, written by Gen. Robert E. Lee more than 130 years ago, capture the essence of how two people-bound together as husband and wife-answered the call of duty as fellow Marines. Theirs is a tale of mutual love, commitment, duty, and sacrifice. The Marine Corps’ timeless traditions and values ring through loud and clear. A decorated veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam, Col. Rich Higgins led by example-putting the welfare of his fellow Marines or U.N. observers above his own.

Semper Fidelis-Always Faithful. The Marine Corps motto is a fitting description of Col. Rich Higgins and Lt. Col. Robin Higgins alike-Marines who served the Corps and performed their duty to the best of their abilities while remaining always faithful to one another. It also is fitting that the Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins, commissioned in April 1999, will perpetuate the example of a brave and dedicated Marine well into the 21 st century.

Copyright Navy League of the United States Nov 1999

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved