Police in Washington, D.C., are looking for at least four people in connection with the assault and robbery of a veteran Marine sergeant and Bronze Star with “V” recipient, who was one of two Marines who helped carry then-1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal out of Fallujah’s infamous “Hell House.”
Christopher Marquez, who served in the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2011, told police he was assaulted on Friday around 10:30 p.m. while eating at a McDonald's, according to a Metropolitan Police Department report of the incident. The suspects took Marquez’ wallet, identification, credit cards, debit card and about $400 in cash, the report says.
“When we’re in the military, we’re there for our country," Marquez told Marine Corps Times. "...It’s very ironic: being attacked by the people you [were] there to serve.”
Marquez said he believes the attack was racially motivated. He remembers being accosted at the McDonald's in Washington's Chinatown neighborhood by five people between 16 and 21 years old. Most were men or boys. One may have been female.
“The kids were asking me if I think that black lives mattered,” Marquez said on Monday. “I was ignoring them, just because I felt intimidated. I felt how they approached me, it was very hostile. I felt they were really trying to intimidate me and just trying to start a confrontation with me.”
The police report does not include a description of the people involved with the incident, which was first reported by the Daily Caller News Foundation. One of the suspects allegedly hit Marquez with a gun after calling him a racist, the report says. Police have not yet made any arrests in the case, a spokesman said.
Marquez said his memories of what happened next are a blur. He said the restaurant’s manager later told him that security camera footage shows one of the people hitting him in the back of the head with an unknown object as he was leaving the McDonald's.
“It was a sharp blow to the back of my head,” Marquez said.
His assailants allegedly took everything in his pockets, tearing off the back of his pants to steal his wallet, Marquez said. They allegedly made more than $115 in charges on his USAA debit card, he said.
When he came to, Marquez said he took a taxi cab to his apartment complex, where he met police. After spending several hours at George Washington University Hospital being examined for head trauma, Marquez was told to go to a Veterans Affairs medical facility for follow-up treatment, he said.
On Tuesday, Marquez said he was getting a replacement identification so that he could be seen by VA doctors.
Marquez was awarded the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device for his actions in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 12, 2004, when he refused to leave his mortally wounded team leader despite being under intense fire from an enemy machine gun, his award citation says. As bullets hit the wall around him, Marquez dragged his team leader to a place of relative safety, where he could be administered medical aid.
“Adhering to the longstanding Marine Corps tradition of ‘No man left behind,’ he was willing to risk his own life to ensure that a fellow Marine would not fall into the hands of the enemy,” the citation says.
The next day, Marquez helped carry out Kasal, now the sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force, from a house in Fallujah that was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the retake the city from terrorists. Kasal was later awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism there.
Photographer Lucian Read captured the moment as a bloody Kasal was leaving the house with his right arm slung around Marquez’ neck, M9 pistol in hand.
“That was a crazy deployment,” Marquez told Marine Corps Times. “There were constant firefights all over the place.”
Marquez said he is angry at being attacked at home after making it through Iraq.
“We’re there to protect our country so that people … don’t have to be scared of getting killed or being attacked.
“We’re all Americans, especially in the military," he said. "We serve with people from all backgrounds. It seems like there is so much tension right now. ... It’s very sad.”