Kevin Benderman

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U.S. Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman requested conscientious objector status on December 20, 2004, when faced with a second tour of duty in Iraq. [1]

On Wednesday, February 9, 2005, Sgt. Benderman explained his position in the posting "A matter of conscience" on blogspot Bruderhof Communities:

"Sgt. Kevin Benderman (40) is a U.S. Army mechanic with ten years of service under his belt, including a role in the assault on Baghdad. While there, his outfit was ordered to open fire on children who were throwing rocks at unit personnel. Troubled by this and other similar incidents, and facing a second tour of duty in Iraq, Benderman applied for conscientious objector status in December 2004. The U.S. Army has charged him with desertion. He has been called a coward by his commanding officer, and his chaplain has told him that he is ashamed of him."

On January 13, 2005, the AP reported in "Army sergeant refuses 2nd Iraq deployment. Seeks conscientious objector status" that Sgt. Kevin Benderman "said he became morally opposed to war after seeing it firsthand during his first Iraq tour. Now he faces a possible court-martial after failing to deploy [January 7] with his unit."

"Lt. Col. Cliff Kent, a Fort Stewart spokesman, said Benderman was being considered absent without leave because he had orders to deploy to Iraq while the Army processed his conscientious objector claim. ... 'He was AWOL from the unit's movement,' Kent said. 'Beginning the application process for conscientious objection does not preclude you from deploying.'
"Benderman has been reassigned to a rear detachment unit at Fort Stewart while his case is processed, Kent said. Kent said the Army has not decided whether to bring charges against him."
"Filing an objector claim does not prevent the Army from prosecuting soldiers for disobeying orders."
"Benderman served in Iraq from March to September 2003 with the 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas. When he later transferred to the 3rd Infantry at Fort Stewart, Benderman said, he was already questioning the morality of the destruction he had witnessed.
"'You can sit around your house and discuss this thing in abstract terms, but until you see and experience it for yourself, you just don't know how bad it is,' he said. 'How is it an honorable thing to teach a kid how to look through the sights of a rifle and kill another human being? War is the ultimate in violence and it is indiscriminate.'
"Asked why he waited until a week before his unit deployed to file notice of his objector claim, Benderman said, 'It takes time for you to make sure that you 100 percent want to do things. This is not something you make a snap judgment on.'"

On January 19, 2005, Jack Dalton reported that "The U.S. Army Has Formally Charged Sgt. Kevin Benderman" and Robert Finnegan wrote January 20, 2005, "US Army Sergeant Kevin Benderman Charged With Desertion."

  • UCMJ 885, Article 85. Desertion:
(a) Any member of the armed forces who--
(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;
(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or
(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another on of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States; is guilty of desertion.

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