Former ODU Swimmer Killed in Afghanistan

April 30, 2013
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

April 30, 2013

NORFOLK, Va. - The Pentagon announced on Friday that 26-year-old First Lieutenant Robert "R.J." Hess of Fairfax, Va. died last Tuesday after sustaining wounds from indirect enemy fire in eastern Afghanistan.

Hess attended Old Dominion University where he received a degree in criminal justice and was a member of the swimming and diving team under head coach, Carol Withus.

R.J.'s father, Robert also swam at Old Dominion.

Withus stated, "R.J. worked extremely hard in everything that he set out to accomplish. He was so active around the University, especially within the ROTC. R.J. was always a team player that was willing to compete in any event for the Monarchs."

Hess swam for three years at Robinson High School, garnering three state championships. Hess also played linebacker on a state championship-winning football team at Robinson.

R.J. deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom earlier this month.

Hess's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge, among many others.

"R.J. is going to be sorely missed," concluded Withus.

Hess is survived by his mother and father, Robert and Lauren Hess of Fairfax, and brother, Patrick.