The first Marine to refuse orders to go to the Persian Gulf says now that he's won a military discharge he'll fight to keep his former colleagues out of war.
The Marine Corps agreed Wednesday to grant Jeff Paterson an administrative discharge and drop court-martial proceedings against him in exchange for his dropping legal action against the military."I think now I'll be in a better position to mobilize support against the war," said Paterson who attended a celebration at a local coffehouse late Wednesday. "I'll continue speaking out and being very vocal against the war."
Paterson, 22, was accused of violating orders for refusing to board a plane for Saudi Arabia with his unit on Aug. 29. He also was charged with unauthorized absence on Aug. 16, when he failed to report for duty to hold a news conference announcing his plans to seek conscientious objector status.
The Marines denied that request, saying it was based on political and not moral considerations and they didn't believe it was sincere.
He and his lawyer, Eric Seitz, said the military decided to drop the court-martial to avoid negative publicity. But Paterson's commanding officer, Brig. Gen. R.L. Phillips, said it would have been too disruptive to the military's Operation Desert Shield to have soldiers in the Persian Gulf take time to file depositions in the case.
In a related development Wednesday, Army Spec. Sebastian Correa sued the military and President Bush for extending his enlistment because of the Persian Gulf crisis.
Correa's four-year tour was to have ended Nov. 24. In early September he was asked if he wanted to re-enlist; he declined. Two weeks later, Correa, 24, was sent to Saudi Arabia, and two weeks after that he learned his tour was extended until December 1991.