Marine Presses His Case For Discharge




 
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November 24th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Marine Presses His Case For Discharge


Philadelphia Inquirer
November 24, 2006
Pg. 1

The Pennsauken man, now serving in Iraq, is among a handful of troops who have claimed 'C.O.' status.
By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. John Rogowskyj Jr. says he is a conscientious objector and should be discharged from the service.
He has been interviewed by a military chaplain, examined by a psychiatrist, and questioned by a hearing officer who recommended C.O. status and immediate separation.
But this month, Rogowskyj was deployed to Iraq.
The 22-year-old Pennsauken man now serves on a heavily armed patrol boat protecting hydroelectric plants along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and Lake Qadisiyah.
"I believe that God has given man free will," he said in legal documents. "... By surrendering my will to the military, I realize that I have willfully propagated violence."
Rogowskyj is one of a handful of troops who in the last few years who have sought to leave the service as conscientious objectors, or be placed in noncombat roles. He has taken his case for discharge to federal court in Washington.
This year, three of 15 conscientious-objector applications received by the Marine Corps through mid-August were approved. And another 33 of the 42 applications received by the Army as of Sept. 30 were approved.
"The nation is at war and the vast, vast majority of our soldiers serve honorably in and out of combat," said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman. "Those very few soldiers who are genuine conscientious objectors are either discharged or moved to a noncombatant position."
In the Army, the number of soldiers classified as conscientious objectors represent about .01 percent of the 492,700-member force. Lt. Thomas Dolan, Marine Corps spokesman, said the percentage of Marine C.O.'s is equally small.
"The numbers are right; they're minuscule," said Hilferty, adding that "a guy who believes in principles is somebody we in the Army will protect."
But J.E. McNeil, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Conscience and War in Washington, which advises personnel on conscientious-objector discharges, said many more service members had sought C.O. status than the military is reporting.
"They only count the C.O. applications when they are done," she said. "When somebody applies, it takes 18 months.
"Many call us and say, 'I can't do this anymore,' and we talk about faster, easier ways to get out and that wouldn't be as a C.O. It would be for hardship, medical reasons or failure to participate."
McNeil said 40 percent of the 350 to 400 calls her center receives each month are from soldiers asking what would happen to them if they went AWOL (absent without leave). About eight percent of the calls focus on questions about C.O. status.
"There's a joke about the recruiter that goes, 'How do you know when a recruiter is lying? He opens his mouth,' " McNeil said. "Eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds believe a lot of stuff that's not true. They're told they're not going to war, they're getting into college."
McNeil said many had joined the National Guard, thinking that they would be called up to help during natural disasters or riots. They didn't believe they would be sent to Iraq. "So they feel sandbagged," she said. "They are seeing what war is."
Rogowskyj joined the Marine Corps Reserve in 2002 for a term of eight years and was assigned to the Fourth Armored Reconnaissance Battalion of the Fourth Marine Division. He was ordered to active duty in 2003 and submitted a request for a conscientious objector discharge this year.
"I see now that I must separate from the military with all due haste, or suffer without the forgiveness of grace, for defying the truth that I see plainly before me, that violence as a means or end cannot be tolerated," said Rogowskyj, who identifies himself in court papers as a religious humanist who believes in "spiritual accountability" but does not belong to any organized religion.
A Marine captain who served as the hearing officer in Rogowskyj's case found that the lance corporal's "testimony overall seemed sincere, thorough and well-formulated," according to a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed Oct. 30.
The captain ordered him to "be processed immediately for administrative separation from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, since his perceived personal and spiritual beliefs would prevent him from effectively discharging his duties."
In June, Maj. M.A. Stolzenburg, the commanding officer of Company B of the Fourth Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, said Rogowskyj was a conscientious objector but was still deployable to a noncombat assignment: the dam security patrol.
In August, Maj. Gen. D.V. Odell Jr., commander of the Fourth Marine Division, said Rogowskyj was "theologically confused and does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."
After that, a C.O. Status Screening Board denied Rogowskyj's discharge, saying that it "believed that the timing of [petitioner's] request, coming after notification of his unit's combat mobilization, was simply a means to avoid a combat deployment to Iraq."
Rogowskyj was deployed to Iraq on Nov. 2.
His Washington attorney, Eugene R. Fidell, said the soldier's petition asks the court to require the Marine Corps "to show cause, if any there be, for [Rogowskyj's] continued custody in the Marine Corps."
Fidell said cases like Rogowskyj's, in which a soldier has an epiphany, are not uncommon. "A light has gone on for him," said the lawyer. "We would like to think that the Marine Corps would agree with us that this is a mistake, that he should be discharged."
If the federal judge grants his petition, Fidell said, both parties would offer briefs and a hearing would be scheduled.
"He's not supposed to be there [Iraq]," he said.
November 24th, 2006  
bulldogg
 
 
Yeah, a light has clicked on, the yellow light of cowardice. I conscientiously object to these twits.
November 26th, 2006  
LeEnfield
 
 
They are happy enough to take the money for being in the Forces and are happy enough it seems to stay in the forces providing they are not in harms way.
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November 26th, 2006  
bulldogg
 
 
Indeed. Shades of Desert Storm I and all the whinging motherers who "just joined for the college money".

I'll give em a discharge alright, but not the kind they're thinking off.
November 27th, 2006  
soldierzhonor
 
 
funny how objectors realize it after being deployed. I agree with the discharge bulldogg is talking about for these amish electricians.
November 28th, 2006  
AussieNick
 
CO status is just cowardice by another name. Discharge the bastard and give him his white feathers.
 


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