An active duty U.S. Marine who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been charged with multiple offenses after displaying violent behavior at an Iraqi restaurant in Oregon.
Sgt. Maj. Damien T. Rodriguez, 40, who has served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was at DarSalam restaurant in Northeast Portland with another man, where he refused to order food for nearly an hour.
According to Tiffany Sahib, the restaurant owner’s wife, the two men were looking for trouble from the time they entered. Every now and then they made racial slurs and comments, culminating in one man grabbing a chair and flinging it toward a server.
“We all breathe. We all have blood in our bodies,” said Sahib, who added one of the restaurant’s missions is to show Portlanders that Iraqis are people too.
“Clearly these guys had a problem with middle easterners and Iraq,” she added.
In 2004, Rodriguez was deployed to Ar Ramadi, Iraq, with the 2nd Battalion 4th Marines. He stayed there for seven months there, during which he "engaged in heavy urban combat.” In 2006, he once again returned to the Middle Eastern country for four months and participated In the U.S. forces "surge" into the Al Anbar Province.
He was later deployed to Afghanistan from November 2010 until May 2011, and went back to serve there in April 2012 until September. Now he has earned the rank sergeant major and serves as the 1st Battalion 11th Marines Battalion.
Rodriguez suffers from PTSD for which he takes ritalin and propranolol.
Following the incident at the restaurant, the sergeant was charged with harassment and second-degree disorderly conduct and intimidation. he was booked and released, and now his case has been handed over to a bias crime detective who is investigating the incident.
"We can confirm that Sgt. Maj. Damion T. Rodriguez was arrested by Portland law enforcement after an altercation in a local Portland restaurant. At this time, The 1st Marine Division will fully assist Portland law enforcement if asked to do so and reserves the right to address this incident through administrative and judicial means once the local investigation is complete and case adjudicated. As Marines, we are expected to uphold and abide by the highest of principals and ethical behavior, both on and off duty,” reads a statement by 1st Lt. Matthew Gregory, a public affairs officer for the 1st Marine Division.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Simon Dawson