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 Iraq vet says he won’t return


Gazette-Times reporter

After two deployments, order cheap haldol Marine doesn’t want to go back, order cheap haldol could face jail

 When Benjamin Lewis was 17, order cheap haldol he joined the Marine Corps’ delayed entry program, order cheap haldol looking for a new direction in his life. Order cheap haldol

He had dropped out of school and was struggling. Order cheap haldol

The military seemed like a good option.

After two deployments to Iraq, order cheap haldol and an honorable discharge, order cheap haldol Lewis, order cheap haldol now 23, order cheap haldol recently learned that he might be involuntarily redeployed to the region. Order cheap haldol

He’s decided that he’s not going back, order cheap haldol even if it means facing imprisonment.

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

After three months of infantry training, order cheap haldol he joined the Third Battalion Fourth Marines in 29 Palms, order cheap haldol Calif. Order cheap haldol

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

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

“We were really just making a show of force, order cheap haldol marching around the streets and making a show of our presence.

 After returning to the United States following their first tour, order cheap haldol the battalion was redeployed to Iraq in 2005. Order cheap haldol

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

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

“That was almost like being deployed. Order cheap haldol It was 14-hour days. Order cheap haldol

You’d get a couple days off every 20 days or so.”
 In 2007, order cheap haldol Lewis was honorably discharged from active duty. Order cheap haldol

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

He planned eventually to work with peace organizations. Order cheap haldol

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

As a Marine, order cheap haldol Lewis had made an eight-year commitment to the Marines, order cheap haldol so although he was discharged, order cheap haldol he was still eligible for redeployment. Order cheap haldol

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

Last month, order cheap haldol Lewis went to Kansas City, order cheap haldol Mo., order cheap haldol for muster, order cheap haldol or formal military inspection. Order cheap haldol

At that time, order cheap haldol he and other Marines were told that they’d receive their formal orders within two months. Order cheap haldol

Lewis is now waiting to hear the final word, order cheap haldol 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. Order cheap haldol

He’s consulted attorneys about what might happen if he refuses. Order cheap haldol

He said he’s prepared for jail time, order cheap haldol if that is the result, order cheap haldol but until that time, order cheap haldol 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, order cheap haldol” he said, order cheap haldol “once you’re there you realize not only are you not capable of doing it, order cheap haldol 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. Order cheap haldol

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

“They started to scare me, order cheap haldol the convictions that people had over things that were complete fallacies.”

 Later this month, order cheap haldol Lewis plans to fly to Washington, order cheap haldol D.C., order cheap haldol to talk to activists there. Order cheap haldol

He is trying to start an Iraqi Veterans Against the War chapter in Portland with a satellite in Corvallis. Order cheap haldol

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

He’s also awaiting his final orders, order cheap haldol 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.”

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