RICARDO ANTONIO CROCKER
1966 to 2005
[EDITOR’S NOTE: All too soon those who gave their lives for our country vanish in a sea of casualty statistics, their character, bravery and humanity lost to all but family, friends and battle companions. To honor the fallen heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan, Précis will occasionally revisit those who have paid the ultimate price and recall some of the faces, dreams and hopes for the future that extended far beyond war.]
A lean, mean fighting machine
Most knew Marine Corps Major Ricardo A. Crocker – a tall, buff, likeable guy who loved spicy food and played ball like a pro – as Rick. Legendary in Al Anbar province for his winning way with Iraqi locals, the 39-year-old Marine Reservist was equally famous in Santa Monica, CA for his work with youth through the Police Activities League (PAL). When he left for Iraq in 2004, a life-size cutout photograph of Crocker – a lean, mean fighting machine in full combat gear – stood in the detective squad bureau of the Santa Monica Police Department where he had worked for ten years.
His fellow SWAT team members, even Police Chief James T. Butts, talked to him “as if he were there,” Chief Butts said in 2005. Email, Face Book and letters kept them all in contact, Crocker’s SMPD pals, his family and friends sending so many extravagant care packages that one Marine compared Crocker’s CAG (Civil Affairs Group) house in Iraq to a “supermarket.”
Swamped with an outpouring of support from folks back home, according to Maj. Scott Kinner of Twenty-nine Palms, CA, who served with Crocker in Western Al Anbar in 2005, “Major Crocker went out of his way to be generous with all the things he received. To anyone [out there] who sent him anything-thanks! I undoubtedly ate, read, or watched some of it!”
‘I hesitate to write about this’