Colonel William R. Higgins
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,
Captain Higgins returned to Vietnam in 1972 as an infantry battalion
Advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps, then served as a rifle company
commander with C Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.
From 1973 - 1977, Captain Higgins served at the Staff Noncommissioned
Officers Academy and Officers Candidates School, both in Quantico,
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
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 campaign ribbons. On Mar. 18, 1992,
President George Bush awarded Col. Higgins the Presidential Citizens
The ship's crest and shield were
designed to honor
the memory of Col. William "Rich" Higgins, USMC and to signify the
power of the warship that bears his name. Dark blue and gold are
traditional colors of the Navy, symbolizing the sea and excellence.
The griffin, denoting valor and intelligence, holds an axe that
indicates HIGGINS readiness and ability to engage in land-based
hostilities. The griffin and the trident symbolize the modern weapons
systems HIGGINS possesses, which will give her the versatility of air
combat and undersea engagements. The "V" form of the pile signifies
victory and recalls the Combat "V" awards earned by Col. Higgins. White
denotes integrity; gold symbolizes excellence. The cloverleaf stands
for good fortune.The crests anchor represents the Navy. Two wreaths
symbolize the many military and civilian honors awarded Col. Higgins
and signify unusual achievement. The Naval officers sword and the
mameluke emphasize the longstanding tradition of cooperation between
the Navy and the Marine Corps in both peacetime and war, and recall
Col. Higgins outstanding service to his country as a Marine.
"First to Fight" is a traditional Marine Corps motto and signifies the
ability of this Aegis destroyer, as well as the willingness of her
crew, to be the first called in times of danger, to protect U.S.
interests throughout the world, and to inspire pride.