Matthis Chiroux is the kind of young American US military recruiters love.Some details AFP omits.
"I was from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school," the now 24-year-old told AFP.
"I was 'filet mignon' for recruiters. They started phoning me when I was in 10th grade," or around 16 years old, he added.
Chiroux joined the US army straight out of high school nearly six years ago, and worked his way up from private to sergeant.
He served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines and was due to be deployed next month in Iraq.
On Thursday, he refused to go, saying he considers Iraq an illegal war.
"I stand before you today with the strength and clarity and resolve to declare to the military, my government and the world that this soldier will not be deploying to Iraq," Chiroux said in the sun-filled rotunda of a congressional building in Washington.
Matthis enlisted in the Army days after graduating from high school. During his five-year enlistment, Matthis served as a journalist in the Army, with tours in Germany, Japan, Afghanistan and the Philippines.Can you believe it? Actually entering hostile environments while playing a journalist?
While serving in Afghanistan and Palawan, Philippines, Matthis experienced hostile environments fighting against Islamic insurgents.
Hmm, no agenda here, I'm sure.
And the 24-year-old Army sergeant’s dream was on track when he was honorably discharged last September. He wasted no time moving to New York City to attend college as a journalism and pre-law major.He heard about the stories. Never saw them, but heard about them.
But less than six months after relocating, the Army came calling again. This time, they needed him to deploy to Iraq.
On Thursday, Matthis, joined by members of the nonprofit organization Iraq Veterans Against the War, publicly announced in Washington, D.C., his plans to ignore the Army’s orders to report to Iraq on June 15.
In a press conference held in the Cannon House Office Building, Matthis read a statement that said, in part:
“As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter service members’ stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. “Never again will I fail to stand. … This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal, and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate, as I will surely be a party to war crimes. …”
Well, isn't that just too damn bad. You signed up for your hitch, so either fulfill your obligation to your country or pay the consequences.
Oh, another convenient omission is the fact Iraq Veterans Against the War are a group of frauds. Does the name Jesse MacBeth ring any bells?
Apparently not with the media.
Here's a dispatch filed while Chiroux was undergoing a grueling tour of Poland in 2006. No doubt he's suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after that arduous ordeal. He clearly suffered further from that deployment in Japan.
Here he receives comfort from a notorious America-hater.
Ironically, Criroux got a photo credit in the NY Times that accompanied a story about--get this--an Army deserter!
Update: Thanks to Just a Grunt for reminding me about Jonn Lilyea's account yesterday of the IVAW Traveling Road Show.