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US Soldiers Resisting the Iraq War

“By putting my weapons down, I chose to reassert myself as a human being,? said Camilo Mejia, the first US soldier to actively resist the Iraq War. The former US Army staff sergeant went AWOL in October 2003 while home on a two-week leave. It wasn't until March 15, 2004, that Mejia turned himself in to military commanders and filed for discharge as a conscientious objector, becoming the first veteran from Iraq to publicly challenge the morality of the war. In May 2004, he was convicted of desertion, and sentenced to nine months in the brig. Having recently been freed, Mejia is now on a speaking tour of the West Coast, and will visit Santa Cruz, on Wednesday, May 4th, 7 p.m. at the Veteran's Memorial Building, 846 Front St. , next to the post office. Immediate wireless translation from English to Spanish translation n will be available.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, CA, Navy sailor Pablo Paredes' request for conscientious objector status has been denied. His court martial is scheduled for May 11, inside the San Diego 32nd St. Naval Station. Various support activities and protests are being planned for May 10-13 in San Diego.

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Tickets for Camilo Mejia event available at RCNV, 515 Broadway, 831/423-1626; $6-15 (sliding scale); $1-5 (sliding scale) scholarship tickets available for students and people with limited funds.

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here's a feature with flyers for the sd actions:

Re: US Soldiers Resisting the Iraq War

May 4th Appearance to be Honored by Mayor Rotkin

"By putting my weapons down, I chose to reassert myself as a human being" was the declaration of Camilo Mejia, Iraq war veteran who filed
for, and was denied, a Conscientious Objector discharge. The Iraq war's first military resister, who went AWOL and later turned himself in
to face a year in the stockade, will tell his story and be honored Wednesday May 4th, 7pm, at the Santa Cruz Veteran's Hall, 846 Front St.,
Santa Cruz.

"For his courageous stand" Mayor Mike Rotkin is proclaiming May 4, 2005 as "Camilo Mejia Day in the City of Santa Cruz" and will present a
proclamation to Mejia at the event.

Aimee Allison, honorably discharged as a Conscientious Objector from her Army combat medic duties during the Gulf War, will moderate the evening program. Ms. Allison is a Stanford University graduate and candidate for the Oakland City Council.

The event is sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) and the Bill Motto
Post 5888, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Event underwriters are: The Bill Motto Post 5888 and the Santa Cruz Peace Coalition. Co-sponsors include: Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Free Radio Santa Cruz, the Watsonville Brown Berets, UCSC Students Against War (SAW), Harbor High Students for Peace
& Justice, the Youth Coalition of Santa Cruz, Radio Station KPFA, the national Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), and Global Exchange.

Immediate wireless Spanish translation will be available.

RCNV, 515 Broadway, 831/423-1626; $6-15 sliding scale; $1 scholarship tickets available for students and people with limited funds.

The RCNV GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives Program provides information and counseling for enlisted military seeking discharge and for young people, and their families, who are concerned about Selective Service registration and a potential draft. For information contact the
program's 7-day-a-week hotline 831/359-0202 or

Additional information about Camilo Mejia:

* Camilo Mejia campaign:

* Amnesty International, Mejia Prisoner of War:

* Code Pink, Mejia Goes to Prison:

* Mother's Appeal (Veterans for Peace):

Re: US Soldiers Resisting the Iraq War

A more thoroughly worthless NCO I cannot imagine. Glad to take the Army's money, wasn't he? But he was never adult enough to consider what he had signed up for, what he might have to do.
Like so many other children in uniform, Mejia figured he could count on never having to go to war.
Idolize this character if you want; it says more about the maturity of your own outlook than anything else.
By the way, as an NCO, Mejia was responsible for looking after the welfare of his soldiers. But he ran out on them, didn't he?
Yes, Mejia is the perfect hero for the childish and irresponsible. You're welcome to him.

Re: US Soldiers Resisting the Iraq War

"Maturer than thou" 2ndTourTroop is obviously the epitome of sheer stupidity, demanding that everyone submit to the shadow of the past holding the present/future hostage, that one must remain on the suicidal path for the path's sake, regardless of how one feels. I am my own hero, but there is something to be learned from Mejia's story.

Re: US Soldiers Resisting the Iraq War

I have to agree with 2ndTourTroop. Mejia may disagree with what's going on over there, but he had a personal responsibility to the soldiers that counted on him. I could understand this more from a brand new private than I can a professional Noncommissioned Officer. Mejia had plenty of opportunities to bail before leaving the young men that count on him in the lurch. It's not like he's only been in the Army for a day, which makes it curious when you consider the timing of his actions. There's a lot of good going on over there at the soldier and small unit level between US soldiers and Iraqi civilians. You wouldn't know that from the news reports that come out. "If it bleeds, it leads." seems to be the mantra of mainstream media without regard to the good that has come out of the US action in Iraq. Few on this website wants to hear about schools or hospitals rebuilt or freely elected officials being sworn into office for the first time in several decades. I was there with the 3d ID for the first go around. Yes, that's Mejia's former unit. It's kind of embarrasing that guys like SFC Paul Smith, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for holding his position and saving the lives of the soldiers around him, ever wore the same unit patch as a guy who ran away from his committments and responsibilities- and the soldiers that looked up to him. You can say what you will about the "right or wrong" of the US in Iraq. Camilo Mejia running away had the same effect on changing the strategic policy of the US as spitting in the ocean. But one more US soldier may be killed that he could have prevented by fulfilling his moral responsibilities to the soldiers that he led. Military service as a leader (NCO or officer) is about more than selfless service to the nation, it's about selfless service to the guy (or gal) that is to your left or right, front or back. That's what upsets me most about his "celebrity" status as a deserter and "war resister". I can respect those who voice their opinions here at home. It's their right as a citizen of our country. I have a hard time respecting a guy that chose to walk away from the lives of those he was entrusted with.

Re: US Soldiers Resisting the Iraq War

B.S. You forget, Mejia WAS ON 2 WEEK LEAVE in the US! He did not leave anyone, "in the lurch" in the heat of battle.

Mejia did the thing all the soldier's should do. HE LEFT. If all you NCO's and Second Tour Troops out there did the same, there'd be no war in Iraq.

Can we have some specifics?

Perhaps "former NCO" (who might also identify himself) could specify the particular "schools or hospitals" being built recently. Or in the last two years, for that matter.

I know about the ten permanent military bases, but I would really like to know about the positive achievements.

Some Specifics

Al Anef primary school- Abu Ghraib (the town). Renovated by US soldiers from 1st Armored Division and 414th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Samarra, Iraq- 43 schools and 11 mosques. 415th Civil Affairs battalion in cooperation with local Iraqi contractors.

Salihia Elem School- Built by soldiers from Task Force 1-27 Infantry

Sadr City, Baghdad- Community medical clinic renovated and restocked. Serves 4500 people. Work done by 478th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Al Nazana, Balad- Soldiers from 49th Movement Control Battalion renovated village elementary school and distributed school supplies.

Salahaddin University, Arbil- Opened first internet center and added 14 classrooms. Partnership with CPA and 13th Corps Support Command.

Baghdad University and al Nahrain University- classrooms rebuilt by troopers from 1-9 Cavalry Regiment.

Al Bu Bali- construction of water filtration and chlorination plant. 1 of 30 local projects undertaken by US soldiers and Iraqis.

These are just a few of the projects during the months of March and April in 2004. There are hundreds of others. US soldiers working in concert with Iraqis to rebuild, renovate, and create schools and local infrastructure that Saddam's regime didn't give a damn about. I can list many more if you're interested.

My experience over in Iraq was very positive. I worked a lot with Iraqis to restore basic support structures that were in disrepair from decades of neglect. My unit rebuilt an irrigation system for a village just north of our logistics base, collected and distributed school supplies to local elementary schools and provided basic medical care to those who had never had access to it in their lives. Today you can see satellite dishes all over Baghdad, cell phones, internet access. People have access to the world that was previously denied to them. Has this war been conducted perfectly? No. Have innocent people died? Yes. Was Iraq better off with Saddam- even prior to 1990? I think not. If we lived in a perfect world, the US wouldn't be in Iraq. Whatever the reason for us going, Iraq has a chance now to work towards democracy and individual freedom. It's a long road. You don't change a country that experienced decades of dictatorial rule and centuries of ethnic strife overnight.

This is all my personal opinion, of course. Everyone is entitled to their own, right? But I have the benefit of first hand experience there.


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