Antiwar GI who wanted CO status is shipped to Iraq

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Mon Aug 18 12:38:02 MDT 2003

Army Ships GI Who Tried to File CO Claim to Iraq After First Isolating
Him To Barracks

Spec. Gabriel Johnson, 27, of Stevens Point, WI, enlisted for a five
year hitch because he qualified for the Army's Russian language
training program at Monterey, CA After graduation, he was assigned to
the 104th Military Intelligence Battalion, Ft Hood, TX. This unit
provides intelligence support for the 4th Infantry Division, also at
Ft Hood.

As the US military prepared for its military invasion of Iraq, Gabe's
doubts about the wisdom of this operation grew as did his personal
opposition to participating in armed violence. A week before his unit
was scheduled to deploy to Iraq, he sought counselling from his unit's
chaplain, a female Episcopalian minister. She was unable or unwilling
to provide him with any information about military procedures for
filing for discharge as a conscientious objector.

The next day, April 1st, Gabe was given a written order by his unit
commander restricting him to barracks until his unit deployed to Iraq.
His M-16 was also taken from him. After several attempts to locate
outside help, Johnson spoke with Tod Ensign, attorney for Citizen
Soldier. Ensign immediately faxed a request to Ft Hood's commanding
general, requesting that Johnson not be sent to the Gulf. After
receiving counselling about the legal consequences of refusing an
order to board the aircraft, the young soldier decided to leave with
his unit, early Monday morning, April 7. He is now deployed in the war

Army regulations require that chaplains and commanders provide
information and assistance to GIs who assert that they are
conscientious objectors. (To join, each GI signs an enlistment
contract affirming that he or she is not a CO. However, personal
philosophies sometimes evolve and change as soldiers directly
experience training to commit violence)

Regulations also require that once a GI has made his beliefs about
being a CO known, he or she must be assigned to duties "which
minimally conflict with (their) stated beliefs" until the CO review
process is completed.

Finally, since a CO claimant has the right to gather letters which
attest to his or her sincerity as well as the right to call such
witnesses to testify on their behalf at their formal CO hearing, the
Army has violated Johnson's rights by shipping him 8,000 miles away to
a war zone.

Letters are needed which request that Johnson be returned to the US so
that he can exercise his legal rights: Please write or fax:

Major General Raymond Odierno, Comm. General, 4th Infantry Division,
Attn: Col. James Moore, Ft Hood, TX 76544 (254) 287-2925 fax


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