Veteran dies of COVID-19 complications after posting on Facebook that he refused to wear a mask

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PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WOIO) — An otherwise healthy 37-year-old military veteran has died of coronavirus complications in Ohio. 

But it’s not just his health and age that are drawing attention to his passing. 

It’s also that he posted on Facebook that he refused to wear a mask. 

His family and friends say they want to turn their tragedy in a lesson for others. 

Those who knew 37-year-old Richard Rose describe him as kind, funny and caring. 

His family says he was very active in helping homeless veterans and in preventing veteran suicide. 

The Port Clinton, Ohio, man served in the army for nine years and did two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

He died at his home from complications related to COVID-19 on the Fourth of July.

“We were blown away. You know, you hear about this virus, and you don’t expect it to affect people, younger people like ourselves,” said Nick Conley, one of Richard’s friends. 

Conley has called Richard a friend for the past five years. 

They met through a shared love of video games. 

He is crushed that he lost his friend to the virus, but he’s also hurt by something Richard posted on Facebook in April. 

That post has now been shared more than 10,000 times. 

It reads: “ Let’s make this clear. I’m not buying a mask. I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype.”

“Rick is getting slaughtered online right now for his decision that he made not to wear a mask, and that’s not right. You know, we should still be compassionate whether we agree with someone’s beliefs or not. Someone has passed away. We should have some compassion towards that,” Conley said. 

Richard’s family says he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 1 and died three days later. 

He reportedly did not have any pre-existing health conditions. 

“It’s horrible that we lost Rick, but the even more tragic part of that is who else became infected because of the actions that he chose?” Conley said. 

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