Marine Refuses Deployment With Unit To Middle East
HONOLULU (AP) _ The military has confined to barracks a corporal who went on a hunger strike and refused deployment with his unit because he opposes U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf crisis.
Cpl. Jeffrey Paterson, 22, refused to leave with members of his unit, part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, when it was deployed to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, said Staff Sgt. Christopher Grey, a public affairs officer at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station.
No charges have been filed against Paterson, Grey said. He was confined to his barracks area and could face charges of disobeying lawful orders and missing movement, he said.
Eric Seitz, attorney for Paterson, said he was unable to contact his client Thursday. He charged Marine officials with unlawfully restricting access to Paterson, and said military officials were deliberately going out of their way to ″precipitate a confrontation.″
Paterson, of Hollister, Calif., filed for conscientious objector status Aug. 17, citing his opposition to U.S. ″interventionist″ policy in the Middle East.
He has been on a hunger strike since Aug. 24 to draw attention to his situation.
A preliminary recommendation issued Wednesday said Paterson’s request for conscientious objector status should be denied. A final decision on the reqeust will be made by the Office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, a base spokesman, Capt. Leonard Ryan, said earlier in the week.
Seitz said he expects the request to be denied, and will seek an appeal in federal court if it is.
In the preliminary recommendation, an investigating officer said that while he concluded that Paterson’s position was sincere, it was based on political - and not moral - considerations.
″He has read a few books, talked with some people who influenced him and now burns with the zeal of the convert,″ the recommendation read.
The Committee to Defend Jeff Paterson, a group of local peace activists who have taken up Paterson’s cause, called Paterson’s strike a victory because it kept him from going to the Mideast against his will.
″He has successfully carried through on his promise to fight this war,″ the group said in a written statement.
On Tuesday, Lance Cpl. Eric Glen Larsen of the 4th Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion at Hayward, Calif., became the second soldier to officially file for conscientious objector status to avoid Persian Gulf duty. Larsen cited his religious beliefs.