Free Aceon

 Iraq vet says he won’t return



By THERESA HOGUE

Gazette-Times reporter

After two deployments, free aceon Marine doesn’t want to go back, free aceon could face jail


 When Benjamin Lewis was 17, free aceon he joined the Marine Corps’ delayed entry program, free aceon looking for a new direction in his life. Free aceon

He had dropped out of school and was struggling. Free aceon

The military seemed like a good option.
 

After two deployments to Iraq, free aceon and an honorable discharge, free aceon Lewis, free aceon now 23, free aceon recently learned that he might be involuntarily redeployed to the region. Free aceon

He’s decided that he’s not going back, free aceon even if it means facing imprisonment.
 

The road to that decision was a long one.
 Back in California, free aceon Lewis’s recruiter talked him into going back to school to get his diploma before heading to boot camp in San Diego. Free aceon

After three months of infantry training, free aceon he joined the Third Battalion Fourth Marines in 29 Palms, free aceon Calif. Free aceon

They deployed in 2004, free aceon where the battalion participated in the first assault against Fallujah, free aceon supporting front-line infantry.
 After a crash course in Arabic, free aceon Lewis became a translator for his platoon on patrols. Free aceon

He spent a lot of time on foot patrols in Haditha, free aceon living for months with local policemen there, free aceon sometimes working long hours with almost no sleep.
 

“We were really just making a show of force, free aceon marching around the streets and making a show of our presence.

”
 After returning to the United States following their first tour, free aceon the battalion was redeployed to Iraq in 2005. Free aceon

They operated a vehicle checkpoint in Fallujah for seven months.
 “It was a very long and stagnant tour, free aceon” he said.
 



He spent the last year of his service as an urban combat instructor in California for the Marine’s Mojave Viper operation, free aceon where he realized that teaching suited him.
 

“That was almost like being deployed. Free aceon It was 14-hour days. Free aceon

You’d get a couple days off every 20 days or so.”
 In 2007, free aceon Lewis was honorably discharged from active duty. Free aceon

He moved to Corvallis and enrolled at Linn-Benton Community College to pursue a dual degree in philosophy and English literature. Free aceon

He planned eventually to work with peace organizations. Free aceon

But two months ago, free aceon Lewis learned he was being considered for involuntary reactivation under the military’s 2004 Individual Ready Reserves provision.
 

As a Marine, free aceon Lewis had made an eight-year commitment to the Marines, free aceon so although he was discharged, free aceon he was still eligible for redeployment. Free aceon

But in the year since Lewis had left the Marines, free aceon he’d realized that he did not agree with the Marine Corps’ actions in Iraq, free aceon or with the United States’ involvement in the region.
 

Last month, free aceon Lewis went to Kansas City, free aceon Mo., free aceon for muster, free aceon or formal military inspection. Free aceon

At that time, free aceon he and other Marines were told that they’d receive their formal orders within two months. Free aceon

Lewis is now waiting to hear the final word, free aceon but said he has long since decided to refuse to reactivate.
 

Lewis has contacted groups such as Courage to Resist and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Free aceon

He’s consulted attorneys about what might happen if he refuses. Free aceon

He said he’s prepared for jail time, free aceon if that is the result, free aceon but until that time, free aceon he’s speaking out against the war.


 “After being in the Marine Corps and joining up with the intention of helping people and hoping to execute those romantic ideals you see in the advertisement, free aceon” he said, free aceon “once you’re there you realize not only are you not capable of doing it, free aceon you’re in an organization that suppresses any individual will to do such things.

”
 Lewis started having these thoughts while training other Marines during his time with Mojave Viper. Free aceon

He said that having some distance from Iraq, free aceon and time to learn more about how the United States got into the war originally, free aceon gave him a new perspective.
 “I was able to be more objective, free aceon and I was watching these mentalities, free aceon” he said. Free aceon

“They started to scare me, free aceon the convictions that people had over things that were complete fallacies.”


 Later this month, free aceon Lewis plans to fly to Washington, free aceon D.C., free aceon to talk to activists there. Free aceon

He is trying to start an Iraqi Veterans Against the War chapter in Portland with a satellite in Corvallis. Free aceon

He’s been writing about his experiences and his convictions. Free aceon He’s interested in talking to other Iraq war veterans who have served since Sept. Free aceon 11, free aceon 2001, free aceon and he’s asking them to contact him at corvallisivaw@gmail.com.
 

He’s also awaiting his final orders, free aceon and he’s dealing with the reality that his decisions could mean he’ll face jail time.
 “I made the resolve once I left 29 Palms that I would never go back into the Marine Corps.”

Original article can be found at:

http://www.gazettetimes.com/articles/2008/11/11/news/community/6aaa04_lewissnd.prt