Iraq: Aegis Defense Contractor Robbie Napier Killed, Others Wounded And Killed In Separate Incidents
Thanks to Matt at Feral Jundi for putting this together. We still have no way of tracking Contractor Casualties unless a family member talks to the news or contacts us directly.
I had no idea that this happened several weeks back, and there is nothing on the Aegis company website or Army Corps of Engineers website about this death, or even the other attacks. Supposedly another contractor was killed by a sniper, and others severely wounded, but there is nothing in the news about it. If a reader could please pass on the news link to the death related to that sniper, I will definitely make an edit to this post.
Ex-Marine and father-of-two Robbie Napier, 36, from Wakefield, died after the explosion this month.
On Friday, his grieving father told the YEP that just last Christmas he had returned home and delivered his baby daughter at his family home in Stanley.
An inquest in Wakefield into his death heard that Mr Napier was a front seat passenger in the front of a three-vehicle convoy on March 10.
Coroner’s officer Anthony Lancaster told the hearing: “Mr Napier sustained fatal injuries in an explosion of a detonated explosive device.”
The court heard that following the explosion in Baghdad Mr Napier was taken to a nearby base but was pronounced dead a short time later.
A post-mortem report gave his provisional cause of death as multiple injuries caused by a detonated explosive device. His body was flown home on March 16.
West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff adjourned the inquest pending further investigation.
Speaking to the YEP after the hearing, Mr Napier’s father Ronald said his son was married and had two young daughters.
He said: “Robbie was taking clients up to a site when his vehicle was hit by the device.
“We were told about what had happened on the same day by the police and then the next day, members of his firm came up and saw us.
“He had come home last Christmas and delivered his baby daughter on the kitchen floor.”
Mr Napier said his son had been in the Marines for 17 years before starting work for private security firm Aegis.
Aegis is a privately owned, British security and risk management company with overseas offices in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq and the USA.
The firm’s website says it “provides comprehensive physical security services designed to meet the threat to personnel working in hostile environments around the world.”
March 28, 2010
Some days here in Baghdad are better than others. Friday was not one of the better ones.
Our command, part of the Army Corps of Engineers, had a very moving memorial service for one of our security contractors. Robbie was a young Brit who spent 15 years in the Royal Marines. He was an accomplished triathlete, very sharp, and a “by the book” team leader. He was also a husband and a father to three young children, one of whom he helped bring into the world just a few weeks ago. Robbie was killed last week by a roadside bomb.
Unfortunately, his is not the only hit that our security forces have taken recently while at, or en route to, project sites. A week prior to Robbie’s death, a member of a different security team was killed by a sniper. A few days ago, two more lost their legs to another roadside bomb.
That spate of incidents is extremely unusual. It’s not uncommon now for us to go for weeks with little activity, and there have been surprisingly few injuries or deaths over the past year or so. It’s easy to forget that we’re still in a war zone. We have a Burger King and a Cinnabon on the base, and there are salsa dance classes, yoga, and college classes.
The national and international newspapers only focus on the ongoing election process. I don’t recall seeing anything more than a brief one-liner about any of our forces being hurt or killed, never anything about a U.S. civilian, and especially never anything about contractors. If your only exposure to what’s happening on the ground in Iraq is the media, you’d think that we’re sitting here on our bases, twiddling our thumbs, waiting to go home.
But traveling around Iraq is still dangerous. The number of bombs and mortar attacks is way down, but not eliminated, and there are a few trouble areas where bad things happen a bit more often. All three incidents that I mentioned were in these trouble areas. Our security guys, Robbie included, knew the dangers and the risks and willingly took them.
Why? Well, that’s a good question. A skeptic might say it’s for the money or the adrenaline rush. That might come into play for some people. Everybody has a lot of reasons why they’re here. Most of the military members are ordered here; some volunteer, and all volunteered to be in the service.
All the civilians and contractors are here because we volunteered. Money is probably part of the reason; career advancement may be another.
Maybe I’m an idealist, but I think most of us are here primarily for other reasons: the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, to participate in something vitally important, to do something that not many other people can do or are willing to do. I think that’s especially true for those who put their lives on the line and go outside the wire on a regular basis.
I didn’t know Robbie, but I heard about him from his buddies. Robbie was a level-headed, very dedicated guy. You have to be to survive 15 years in the Royal Marines, and Rambos don’t last long in the real world. So as a level-headed guy, Robbie certainly wasn’t here just for the money. He was here for something else, bigger than him. And he accepted the risks.
When I first arrived, I wanted to get off the bases as much as possible. I’ve been lucky enough to have made some trips around the country. But I’ve also gained an appreciation for what it takes to do those trips, and especially for the security contractors that take me where I need to go. Every one of those men and women has been extremely professional. I owe it to them to make sure that my trips are absolutely necessary.
On the other hand, our very business requires us to go outside the wire. You can’t run construction projects if you never see the sites. And we’re not building things, or (in my case) running training and development programs, just because we want to. These are projects that will help make Iraq stronger and more able to stand on its own feet. The sooner the Iraqis do that, the sooner the level of violence will drop, and the sooner we can all go home. And then maybe one day, in a generation or two, Iraq might actually be a fully-functioning member of the world community.
So that’s what Robbie was doing here: helping this place get back on its feet. He knew the risks, just as we all do. But we have to take them if we’re going to succeed.
Tomorrow morning, Robbie’s teammates will go back out again, taking us to project sites or critical meetings.
The mission goes on.
Skip Rohde is a retired Navy officer living in Mars Hill. In August 2008, he went to work for the State Department in Baghdad, then moved over to the Corps of Engineers. He blogs at http://storypaintings.blogspot.com. Next month Rohde hopes to return home to resume life as an artist down in the River Arts District.