McRill enlisted in the Navy March 5, 1991, and graduated from Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill., in May before reporting to Naval Air Technical Training Center. He then spent three years at Naval Air Station Dallas, and reported to the Defense Photo School in Pensacola, Fla. McRill was aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) from June to November of 1995, had a brief tour at Visual Support Unit, Oceana, Va., before serving aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), home-ported in Norfolk, Va., from November 1996 to January 2002. He reported to another aircraft carrier, USS Eisenhower (CVN 69), also home-ported in Norfolk, where he was promoted to first class petty officer. He was then assigned to Naval Expeditionary Combat Command Detachment, Combat Camera Atlantic from February 2004 to April 2007 when he arrived at Naval Special Warfare Group Two.
McRill's awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), Navy 'E' Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal (4 awards), Kosovo Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment ribbon (3 awards), Rifleman (Marksman) ribbon and Pistol Shot (Marksman) ribbon. He was a qualified Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist and Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist.
McRill is survived by his wife and three children.
Robert Richard McRill was a mentor to his fellow sailors, someone whose glowing personality made him known to many.
"On a daily basis his positive attitude and can-do-spirit were contagious and made it a better place to come to work everyday," said Lt. David Luckett. "He was incredibly committed to his family. He was incredibly committed to shipmates."
McRill, 42, of Lake Placid, Fla., was killed July 6 during combat in Baghdad. He was assigned to Norfolk and was on his second tour.
A 1983 high school graduate, he trained at several bases before serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Dwight Eisenhower.
McRill was in the Navy for 16 years and while serving as a combat photographer saw his pictures published in magazines and books. He helped document relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
His family said he "could often be found spending time catching fish, helping others, cooking his famous ribs on the grill or just enjoying time with his family and many friends."
He is survived by his wife, Katherine, and sons, Brett Coke, Joshua McRill and Brian Coke.