Posted Wednesday, June 1, 10:33 p.m. Ricardo Crocker, a 1989 GW graduate who completed the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program while in college, was killed in Iraq last week by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Crocker, 39, known simply as “Rick,” was serving his second tour of active duty with the Marine Corps, according to a California NBC affiliate. He died on May 26 in an attack in Al-Anbar, Iraq’s largest province, where the violent “Sunni Triangle” is located.
The GW alumnus, who also wrote for The Hatchet, served for 16 years in the Marines, 10 of which were spent on reserve duty while he was as an officer in the Santa Monica Police Department near Los Angeles.
His friends remembered him as a sociable, intelligent and humble man.
“Patriotic is an understatement,” Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts, Jr. said. “The country has lost a hero and a patriot.”
Crocker, while not spending time in class or performing ROTC duties, was a staff writer for The Hatchet from 1986 to 1989.
“Rick was extremely outgoing, friendly, well-liked, a personable guy, very sociable,” said Chris Preble, who spent time in ROTC with Crocker and served as editorial editor for The Hatchet in 1989.
“I was surprised when I learned of his death because I didn’t know he was still in active duty,” said Preble, who lost touch with Crocker after graduation.
“I wasn’t surprised he was still serving the country though,” Preble added. “Once a marine always a marine, he certainly had that demeanor.”
Ken Blackmon, a Marine who completed ROTC and graduated with Crocker, said he last spoke to his friend in 1993, after Crocker returned from action in the Persian Gulf. He said Crocker showed his friends photos of his service in Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm.
“We looked at photos and there were huge numbers of prisoners of war – you could see them marching, and he would tell stories of explosives being strapped to the POWs,” Blackmon said. “He said you would always have to take the extra care and precautions to not get killed.”
“Rick was the most compassionate about people,” Butts said Wednesday, the day before Crocker’s June 2 memorial service.
Before Crocker, a single man, was called to serve abroad in 2003, he acted as a father figure and mentor to children of Santa Monica, Butts said.
“When he was called to duty he felt bad because he was going to be leaving those kids,” Butts said. “He loved his country as much as he loved those children.”