Soldier refuses Iraq duty, gets "other than honorable" discharge

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Dec 4 05:39:17 MST 2002


The case of Torres, whom the government did not feel strong enough to court
martial and jail for his actions, is only the tip of the iceberg of
opposition within the ranks of the military.  The response of the antiwar
movement should be to exercise our right to get out uncensored information
about the truth about the war to GIs in all services and let them know by
direct experience there are protests against them having to go to fight an
unjust war.  The movement should stand for the constitutional rights of  GIs
to think for themselves, read what they want, talk among each other about
the issues, hold meetings, write articles or issue their own newspapers,
and join or stage their own protests. The change in the COLLECTIVE thinking
and actions of the ranks of the military, and the assertion of their
constitutional  rights to think, discuss,  and act together as human beings
not cannon fodder,  made a huge contribution to forcing the U.S. rulers to
end the invasion of  Vietnam and bring the soldiers back to the United
States. Fred Feldman

-------------------------
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 5, 2002
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

SOLDIER REFUSES IRAQ DUTY,
GETS DISCHARGE
By John Catalinotto

There are times when a vast movement of millions of people
that can change history begins with the actions of a few
individuals or even of only one person. Those trying to stop
the murderous war that the Bush administration is poised to
launch on Iraq can hope that Pvt. Wilfredo Torres is one of
the individuals whose action opens the flood gates.

Pvt. Torres has decided to refuse service in the Gulf. Tod
Ensign's Citizen Soldier group supported and defended his
stand.

Pvt. Torres took part in a meeting of veterans in New York
the day before Veterans Day, Nov. 10. He spoke at a news
conference in Washington the next day. There he explained
that he had joined the Army to "serve my country and because
I was promised college aid and skill training as a cook."

After describing various problems he had with his drill
instructors, he said he had left the Army a year before. He
then announced that out of disagreement with U.S. foreign
policy, he would refuse to be sent to the Gulf. He also
noted that "from what I've been hearing lately, our
government has done a poor job of caring for Gulf and
Vietnam vets who are sick because they served."

WW asked Tod Ensign, the director of Citizen Soldier, what
happened to Pvt. Torres. It seems he returned to the
military. He was at Ft. Knox with about 60 other GIs who
were long-term AWOLs. While Pvt. Torres was there, the base
received a call from Rolling Stone newspaper asking to
interview the GI.

The base command apparently thought it would be best to
remove the problem quickly, and the next morning issued Pvt.
Torres an "other than honorable" discharge.

For people in the anti-war movement, Pvt. Torres has taken a
more than honorable step, a courageous step. His history is
common to many now in the armed forces, and if this latest
chapter is spread far and wide throughout the U.S. military
before the invasion of Iraq begins, his response may become
a common one. n

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