Col. William A. Richard "Rich" Higgins USMC
Awards and Honors:
Col. Higgins’ military decorations include: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service
Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with combat "V", Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation
Medal with gold star and combat "V", Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with silver star, Staff
Service Honor Medal, United Nations Medal, and numerous unit commendations and campaign ribbons.
On March 18, 1992, President George Bush awarded Col. Higgins the Presidential Citizens Medal (posthumous). The medal was
accepted by his wife, Robin, and daughter, Chrissy. Col. Higgins was also survived by two sisters.
On February 17, 1994, the Secretary of the Navy announced a new Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer would be
named for Col. Higgins. On October 4, 1997, the USS Higgins (DDG-76) was christened by Col. Higgins' widow, Robin Higgins.
It was commissioned on April 24, 1999.
In April 2003, he was posthumously granted a Prisoner of War Medal.DoD General Counsel Judith A. Miller initially blocked
the award in 1998 based on the claim that "circumstances do not appear to meet the criteria established by Congress for
award of the Prisoner of War Medal." The Navy later overruled her after it was determined that the 1989 expansion of the
eligibility criteria allowed the award.
Danny "Greasy" Belcher, Executive Director Executive Director, Task Force
Omega of KY Inc.
Vietnam Infantry Sgt. 68-69
"D" Troop 7th Sqdn. 1st Air Cav.
I still remember the photograph of Col. Higgins from Owensboro. KY hanging
from a hangman's rope. Freedom is not free. Ask Col. Higgins's family.
Colonel William R. (Rich) Higgins, USMC, disappeared on Feb. 17, 1988,
while serving as the Chief, Observer Group Lebanon and Senior Military
Observer, United States Military Observer Group, United Nations Truce
Born in Danville, Kentucky on Jan. 15, 1945, Rich Higgins graduated
from Southern High School in Louisville and earned his bachelor's degree
from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. A scholarship student in the Navy ROTC,
he received the Marine Corps Association Award and was commissioned in the
Marine Corps in 1967. He later obtained a master's degrees from Pepperdine
University and Auburn University. He graduated from the Army Infantry
Officers Advanced Course, the Air Force Command and Staff College, and the
National War College.
As a lieutenant, he participated in combat operations during 1968 with
C Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines in the Republic of Vietnam as a rifle
platoon commander and rifle company executive officer, and was aide-de-camp
to the Assistant 3d Marine Division Commander.
In 1969 Lt. Higgins served at Headquarters Marine Corps and in 1970 as
the Officer-in-Charge of the Officer Selection Team in Louisville, Kentucky.
Captain Higgins returned to Vietnam in 1972 as an infantry battalion
Advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps, then in 1973 served as a rifle
company commander with B Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.
From 1973 - 1977, Captain Higgins served at the Staff Noncommissioned
Officers Academy and Officers Candidates School, both in Quantico, Virginia.
Returning to the Fleet Marine Force in 1977, Capt. Higgins was
assigned to the 2d Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he
again served as a rifle company commander with A Company, 1st Battalion, 2d
Marines. Upon promotion to major, he was reassigned as the Logistics Officer
for Regimental Landing Team-2, 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade.
After completion of the Air Force Command and Staff College at Maxwell
Air Force Base in 1980, designated a distinguished graduate, he returned to
Washington where he served at Headquarters as a Plans Officer until his
selection to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
During 1981 and 1982, he served as Military Assistant to the Special
Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, then as
Assistant for Interagency Matters to the Executive Secretary for the
Department of Defense. After graduation from the National War College in
1985, he returned to the Pentagon as the Military Assistant to the Secretary
of Defense, where he served until he was transferred to his United Nations
assignment in July 1987. He was promoted to colonel on Mar. 1, 1989.
After being held captive by pro-Iranian terrorists in Lebanon, Col.
Higgins was murdered. The exact date of death is uncertain; however, he was
declared dead on Jul. 6, 1990. His remains were eventually recovered and
interred at Quantico National Cemetery Dec. 30, 1991.
Col. Higgins' military decorations include: the Defense Distinguished
Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (posthumous),
Bronze Star with combat "V", Purple Heart (posthumous), Meritorious Service
Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with bronze star and combat "V", Combat
Action Ribbon, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with silver star, Staff Service
Honor Medal, United Nations Medal, and numerous unit commendations and
On Mar. 18, 1992, President George Bush awarded Col. Higgins the
Presidential Citizens Medal (posthumous). There to accept the medal were his
wife, Robin, and daughter, Chrissy. Col. Higgins is also survived by two
In Apr. 2003, after over 10 years of trying to have Col. Higgins
recognized as a prisoner of war, he was finally posthumously granted a
Prisoner of War Medal.