Wednesday, October 04, 2006
As he entered the Colvin Community Center shortly after noon yesterday with his Canadian wife, U.S. Army Spc. Darrell Anderson was applauded by several anti-war veterans and other peace activists.
Anderson, of Lexington, arrived for a press conference shortly before turning himself in to authorities at Fort Knox, almost two years after deserting following a tour in Iraq and moving to Canada.
Anderson, 24, stood arm in arm with his mother, Anita Anderson, and wife, Gail Greer, as speakers voiced their support for him. Anderson then came to the lectern and said he can't remain in the Army and face the possibility of returning to what he considers an immoral war.
About 20 supporters stood behind him as he faced at least same number of reporters and photographers.
"I'm just someone trying to do what's right," Anderson said. "I believe it was harder for me to resist than to go to Iraq" for a second tour.
"I am proud to be a resister of this war," said Anderson, who served in the 1st Armored Division and received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq. "... I believe the tide is turning in America" against the war.
The above is from Peter Smith's "Army deserter returns Lexington man finds support before Fort Knox surrender" (Kentucky's The Courier-Journal). Darrell Anderson, war resister, Purple Heart recipent as is noted in the next excerpt. From Armina Ligaya's "Army Deserter surrenders, leaves Canada"* (Canada's Globe & Mail):
Mr. Anderson, one of about 225 U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada since 2004, settled in Toronto in 2005. He said he decided to desert after he was ordered to shoot a family of four in Baghdad or face punishment. The recipient of the Purple Heart, given to him after he was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, also developed post-traumatic stress disorder.
While in Canada, Mr. Anderson campaigned for the anti-war movement. But the native of Lexington, Ky., chose to go home after the disorder worsened and his bids for refugee status were rejected. He also wanted to make an anti-war statement.
On Saturday, he crossed into the United States at Niagara Falls, along with Mr. Fennerty, Ms. Greer and his mother.
At a news conference before surrendering, Mr. Anderson told reporters and two dozen anti-war activists and veterans group supporters he did not regret his decision to desert the army. "They broke their contract before I broke mine."
"*"? The subheadline asserts Anderson is "26" -- he's 24 as the article itself notes. Just in case there's any confusion. Wounded via a roadside bomb in April of 2004, one of 1213 US troops wounded that month (the month with the most recorded wounded). Anderson has suffered from PTS since. In Canada, which Anderson went to in January 2005 (driven by his parents, during a snowstorm), Anderson applied for refugee status but, unlike during the Vietnam era, the government has refused to grant refugee status to any war resister. (Canada has no troops in Iraq and was not part of the so-called coalition of the willing.) With no work permit, Anderson did odd jobs and the Post Traumatic Stress went untreated. More information on war reisters in Canada can be found at the War Resisters Support Campaign.
What's in store? What's next? From Brett Barrouquere's "AWOL Soldier Surrenders in Ky." (AP via Washington Post):
Attorney Jim Fennerty of Chicago said Anderson will be interviewed by military investigators, given a uniform and assigned to a barracks while his case is processed. In three to five days, he will be given a discharge of other than honorable. At that point, he should be free from his military commitment and face no other charges, Fennerty said.
"He's not a criminal," Fennerty said.
As Jim Warren (Lexington Herald-Leader) reported Sunday morning, Fennerty was in contact with "an officer" who stated (over the phone, verbal, nothing in writing) "that the Army has decided not to court-martial Anderson, and plans to release him within three to five days. Fennerty said the officer told him that a discharge would be mailed to Anderson within a few days after that."
Jim Warren has reported this story from early on. When Anita Anderson (Darrell Anderson's mother) confirmed that her son had decided to return to the United States, it was to Jim Warren that she spoke. In that article, she expressed her hopes that he would remain in Canada and stated, "I've tried to talk him out of coming back, because he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl." She's referring to Gail Greer who met Darrell Anderson in Canada while working on a documentary film (Albert Nerenberg's Escape to Canada) about war resisters. The couple dated for a year and then married February 13, 2006.
Gail Greer has accompanied Darrell Anderson to the US. From the AP via Toronto Star:
His wife, Gail Greer of Timmins, Ont., said she supports her husband's decision. "I'm really anxious and nervous, but he's definitely doing the right thing," Greer said. "I just hope people listen to what he has to say."
Anderson, of Lexington, returned to the United States from Canada on Saturday. He fled across the border at Niagara Falls, Ont., in early 2005 after receiving orders to return for a second tour of duty in Iraq.
Lawyer Jim Fennerty of Chicago said Anderson will be interviewed by military investigators, given a uniform and assigned to a barracks while his case is processed. In three to five days, he will be given a discharge of other than honourable. At that point, he should be free from his military commitment and face no other charges, Fennerty said.
"He's not a criminal," Fennerty said.
The reception that greeted Darrell Anderson yesterday was largely positive. From Steve Robrahn's "U.S. Army deserter surrenders at Kentucky base" (Reuters via The Scotsman):
Under the surrender terms worked out with the military, Anderson was forbidden from wearing his uniform as he had planned, but said, "I want to put on my uniform on a military base ... and stand against the war."
"I hear people calling Darrell a coward," said Elliott Adams, who wore his Vietnam-era military fatigues and represented the group Veterans for Peace. "Darrell is a hero in the grand American tradition -- trying to show us the right way out of this war."
According to the Pentagon, there were 16,408 desertions from all branches of the U.S. military from 2003 to 2005, 31 percent fewer than from 2000 to 2002. Desertions dropped after the September 2001 attacks.
With his mother weeping and his wife, Gail Greer, clinging to him, Anderson said his wartime experiences gave him nightmares.
"My son served his country and deserved a Purple Heart," said his mother, Anita Dennis. "He got treatment for his physical wounds but they left his emotional wounds open and untreated. It's not fair that military families and soldiers carry all the responsibility for the baggage of this war."
Anderson, who crossed the U.S.-Canadaian border on Saturday, said the Iraqi insurgency enjoys wide support and the United States had no role in what he called the country's civil war.
As the situation in Iraq worsened, U.S. soldiers were forced to adapt, Anderson said.
"It's just like in Vietnam. The more American soldiers die, the more drastic our procedures get just to stay alive," he said.
And you can see Darrell Anderson flashing the peace sign in a photo by Charles Bertram that runs with Jim Warren's "Anderson returns to Fort Knox." In his latest article, Warren also notes a negative reaction:
But he got a much different reaction afterward from Les Powers, 83, a retired Army sergeant major who lives in Radcliff. Powers, a World War II veteran, indicated that he came to the community center specifically to confront Anderson.
"They should have shot you!" Powers yelled as Anderson left for the fort. Anderson didn't reply, but gave Powers the two-fingered peace sign as he was driven away.
"He's a deserter; he's a coward," Powers declared, contending that the Army should court-martial Anderson and give him a dishonorable discharge.
Those who 'remember' Vietnam as something other than revisionary films are probably well aware that this isn't uncommon. But the myth/lie of spitting took root when the reality of that period is reflected above. Jerry Lembcke addresses the reality from the Vietnam era and the myth/lie of the spitting in David Zieger's Sir! No Sir! (Lembcke has addressed this topic elsewhere as well but Sir! No Sir! is a documentary we need to get the word out on). But those who did experience the period, as opposed to those who 'learned' about it from a trash-flick by Stallone or some other gutter dwelling, those who actually can remember what happened as it happened, this was the reaction. It happened then, it happens now. We're seeing it with Ehren Watada as well -- example: the aged man on the West coast who's decided his life only has meaning if he can attack Ehren Watada.
The reality then is the reality now. Back in May, some fretted, some on the left, at blogs, about how if the massacres being revealed were called massacres and crimes it would be just like 'the spitting the left did in the sixties'. There is not and there never has been proof of any returning soldier being spat on by the left during Vietnam. But Power's screech? That happened all the time. The right wing showed up with red paint at rallies, marches and demonstrations. No, they weren't wanting to help out with sign painting, they were there to throw it. That's the reality. The people attacking individual soldiers it's the right-wing and Watada and Anderson are only two examples of ones being attacked.
That's reality. Here's a bit more for the fretting dupes of spring, when someone, anyone, rapes an underage girl, gang rapes, murders her and three members of her family -- Abeer matters a great deal more than whatever you promised the video image of your mythical Stallone back in your lonely, pimply, pre-teen years of lapping up revisionary crap and convincing yourself that, via a couple of really bad movies, you suddenly knew the whole 'Nam period.
More information about Anderson, Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist. The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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