In connection with the release of Indestructible Armor: Operation Desert Sand in August 2015 I have created a daily memorial posting to honor the souls lost while working as PMCs on OEF, OIF and WPPS. We honor these American patriots and their allied brothers and treasure their memories. Their commitment, valor, and individual sacrifices will be forever remembered and never forgotten.
“Fair Winds and Following Seas to all who have passed before us.”
02 JUNE 2004 One American was killed in a motor vehicle accident during a protection detail in Iraq.
✞ Richard Allen “Kato” Bruce, 49
Richard Bruce, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (Firestone and Century Station) deputy sheriff was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Iraq. He was serving as a security coordinator doing dignitary protection details. Richard was a Navy SEAL prior to joining the sheriff’s department. He left the department several years ago and had been working with a group of former special forces soldiers providing security in war torn areas. He maintained his ties with the deputies from Century Station and was very proud of being a deputy sheriff. Richard was a gentleman and a warrior… he will not soon be forgotten. Eulogy added by Michael Griffin on September 7, 2009.
Riverside National Cemetery
Riverside, California, USA
Plot: Section 49A Site 3340
Serving as a Navy SEAL, “Kato” spent 8 years protecting our nation. He also served in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for 13 years. In 2001, Richard ventured off to Alaska to run a fishing/hunting guide service. His extensive military background served him well for 9 years as a wrangler in Alaska where his specialty was guiding successful trophy hunts. He began working for Blackwater Worldwide and deployed to Iraq in Febuary 2004. Richard was scheduled to return to the states for a brief R&R the week he was killed.
Excerpt from Indestructible Armor: Operation Sand
Chapter 3 – In the Shadows of Babylon
“The desert, when the sun comes up… I couldn’t tell where Heaven stopped and the Earth began.” ~ Tom Hanks (as Forrest Gump)
“We were picked up at BIAP by the “Mamba Team” (named for the South African Mamba armored personnel carriers) and headed to Blackwater’s Baghdad team house. Not far from the crossed-sabers archway, a symbol of the era of ousted president Saddam Hussein, we headed into the supposed safety of Baghdad’s Green Zone. With only two thick, bullet-resistant windows high up on each side, these beasts boasted roof hatches that allow gunners to use weapon mounts as they surveyed the area for enemy combatants. Small ports for observation and shooting were located on the rear doors, and a V-shaped hull designed to deflect a mine blast away from the occupants was mounted on the front.
At points along the roof on the left-front and right-rear, a belt-fed M240 machine gun could be mounted and hatches allowed shooters to stand up and out of the top. Pivoting back and forth, they were constantly watching the traffic for signs of an ambush. These operators were very professional, safely and skillfully navigating the Baghdad Airport Road, a 6-mile stretch of the most dangerous road in all of Iraq.”
“Along the way, crackling voices exploded over the three emergency radios onboard this tank-like transport vehicle, often meshed with shouts from the protection detail of “Clear right! Clear left! Approaching hostiles overhead!” I didn’t know it at the time, but traveling those 6 miles along this highway nicknamed “Route Irish” by coalition forces would become the most treacherous trip in a motor vehicle that I have ever taken. Just one year earlier, New York’s 69th Infantry Regiment had installed concrete “Jersey barriers” along the entire route of this most dangerous road in the world. The roadway was also precariously protected in places by cement towers some 18 feet tall and 3 feet thick called “T” walls. These walls were placed side-by-side like an expensive tongue and groove hardwood floor, standing on end to form a concrete privacy fence. By the end of July 2005, the “Fighting 69th” had largely neutralized the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) threat along Route Irish. Yet despite these creative attempts at securing the roadway, insurgents still found ways to commit complex attacks on both coalition forces and private contractor motorcades by combining the use of roadside bombs and small arms on a daily basis.” ~ Wayne E. Hunt