petty officer in San Diego refuses war duty
"I'm going to throw my ID in the water and say that I'm no longer part of the military," said Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes, 23. "I want to make a statement, and I want it to be heard."
Paredes, a weapons-control technician from the Bronx, N.Y., said he joined the Navy in 2000 and has 20 months left on his six-year enlistment. He said he was stationed previously in Japan and, until now, did not feel he had a direct role in the war, which he has opposed since its inception.
Then, about two weeks ago, he was involuntarily transferred to the amphibious transport Bonhomme Richard, which ferries Marines to Iraq.
"I don't want to be a part of a ship that's taking 3,000 Marines over there, knowing a hundred or more of them won't come back," he said. "I can't sleep at night knowing that's what I do for a living."
Paredes said he wasn't sure he would be allowed onto his ship's pier at the 32nd Street Naval Station this morning because he made his feelings and intentions known in local TV interviews Saturday night. He said he unplugged his phone yesterday at his Imperial Beach apartment in case officials from the base tried to call him.
A base spokesman did not return a message seeking comment.
Paredes said his stance has nothing to do with fear for his personal safety.
"It's not about my own life," he said. "I'm just totally against it."
He said he was young and naive when he joined the Navy and "never imagined, in a million years, we would go to war with somebody who had done nothing to us."
Paredes said he discussed his plans with his wife of two years in New York, "and she supports my decision 1,000 percent," even though he might get a dishonorable discharge and lose pay and benefits.
He said he thought of smoking marijuana or breaking his leg with a heavy metal rod to try to get a discharge but decided instead to go public with his protest. He said he hopes doing so might inspire other sailors, soldiers and Marines to refuse to take part in the war.
"I know other people are feeling the same way I am, and I'm hoping more people will stand up," he said. "They can't throw us all in jail."
Chet Barfield: (619) 542-4572; firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter from Fernando Suarez del Solar to Pablo Paredes
17 December 2004,
"To my hero, Pablo Paredes (if you will permit me, to my son Pablo)
"Thank you, my son. Thank you for your courageous stand, for your brave act of love and respect for human life, and above all thank you for being an example of strength and patriotism for the young people of your generation.
"Why do I say this? Because you represent, as does my other son Camilo, hundreds perhaps thousands of other brave young people who are true soldiers, real heroes. Without any fear of unjust government repraisal, you insist on your truth with your conscience clear and free. You reply "No" to the order of death that you have been given. You say no to death, to silent complicity, to the lack of free will that your training taught you. And you declare in a loud voice your firm support of your military oath to defend the Constitution of this great nation and not the gang of bandits who have usurped the White House. The true soldier defends the Constitution, life, liberty, and democracy, and does not exterminate a foreign land for economic gain.
"And so you stand tall and proud against the depravity into which our brave soldiers have been led and you serve as a model that surely many others will follow. Camilo inspired you to make your courageous decision and you will inspire thousands more to oppose the madness.
"Thank you Pablo, thank you my son, for giving your parents the honor of having a son who is brave, strong, and above all else human.
On December 6th, 3rd class Petty Officer Pablo Paredes stood resolutely on the pier of the 32nd street naval base in San Diego, as his ship the USS Bonhomme Richard, left for Iraq without him. Since refusing to participate in this unjust and devastating war, Pablo will now have to face the uncertainty of military punishment for being a GI with a conscience that refuses to be silent.
a Pablo Paredes: Oficial que deserta de la guerra contra Irak