War Veterans/Military Family Members Successfully Blockade Fort Hood Deployment to Iraq
By Matthis Chiroux
Aug. 23, 2010 (KILLEEN, TX) – Five peace activists successfully blockaded six buses carrying Fort Hood Soldiers deploying to Iraq outside Fort Hood’s Clarke gate this morning at around 4 a.m. While the activists took the width of Clarke Rd. and slowed the buses to a halt, police made no arrests, but instead beat the activists out of the streets using automatic weapons and police dogs so the deploying Soldiers could proceed.
Among those blockading were three veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and one military spouse. (See attached bios) The action, organized by a group calling themselves “Fort Hood Disobeys,” was aimed at preventing the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Soldiers to what the veterans termed an illegal and immoral occupation.
While standing in the street, the activists held banners reading “Occupation is a Crime” and “Please Don’t Make the Same Mistake We Did. RESIST NOW.” From the TX HW-190 overpass, additional supporters attempted to hang larger banners that read, “Tell the Brass: ‘KISS MY ASS’ Your family needs you more” “Sick of Fighting Your Wars” and “Col. Allen [3 ACR Commander]: Do not deploy wounded Soldiers.”
This latest deployment comes less than two weeks after President Obama announced the second end to combat operations in Iraq. FHD organizers denounced this as a lie, and pointed to the deployment of the 3rd ACR, a combat regiment, to Iraq as clear proof. They have stated they will continue to organize direct action in the Fort Hood community to oppose the wars as long as troops continue to deploy.
The action organizers have established a website at forthooddisobeys.blogspot.com where they will be posting statements, photographs and video from the actions as they become available during the next 48 hours. As well, for the length of the day, FHD ran live webcasts updating their supporters and depicting portions of the direct action. All live broadcasts from the day are archived here.
For more information or to arrange coverage of today’s events, call 347-613-8964 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. See attached bios for more information on those who participated in today’s action.
I am Bobby Whittenberg-James, a Marine veteran of the war against the people of Iraq, a Purple Heart recipient and a third generation military service member. I joined the Marines in June of 2003, believing the lies about weapons of mass destruction and an imminent threat to our safety. I have since come to learn that these wars and occupations do not keep the people of the United States or the Middle East safe, but instead serve the interests of politicians, capitalists and corporations; the ruling elite.
These unjust wars and occupations rob the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen of their dignity and their right to self-determination and serve to make the people of both the Middle East and the United States less safe. They also serve to further destabilize a region that has suffered under the boot-heel of western colonialism for over a century. The US Empire also supports both financially and militarily the brutal apartheid regime that occupies Palestine. All of this is done in our name with our money, and I am here to say “Not in my name!”
The recent information leaks about the US Empire’s wars lay bare their war crimes and crimes against humanity. We must face the truth, even if it makes us uncomfortable or shows us something about ourselves that we don’t want to see. When we find the truth, we must respond accordingly. I will not be complicit in the killing of people. Since I do not believe that the government or the capitalists will end these wars, I will vote with my body.
I am Crystal Colon. I was a sergeant in the Army for five years, stationed at Fort Hood the entire time, save two deployments to Iraq totaling 26 months. I was a Signal Support Systems Noncommissioned Officer, coordinating communications for various commands. I was honorably discharged in Jan., 2010, and have been organizing in the veterans peace movement ever since.
I first began to question the war in Iraq during my first deployment in ’05-’06. After my friend Robbie was killed, I was very deeply affected. I started questioning why we were in Iraq. It felt like he had died for nothing. After returning from Iraq, I planned to leave the military. I was stop-lossed and forced to return to Iraq for 15 months, in total held beyond the length of my enlistment more than 450 days. Since leaving the military, I have been active with the veterans peace movement, speaking out about my experiences and supporting troops who refuse to fight.
I am doing this today because I can’t allow this war in which I have fought to continue. I can’t allow other Soldiers to make the same mistake I did, deploying in support of a war crime. As a veteran of Iraq, how could I not do this today? For the people I helped occupy, for the friends I lost and stilI have over there, for the Soldiers on those buses. How could I not do this today? I should have disobeyed. I should have never boarded those buses to Iraq. I wish someone had tried to stop me.
I am Matthis Chiroux, former Army sergeant and War Resister. I was press-ganged into the Army by the Alabama Juvenile “Justice” System in 2002. While in the military, I occupied the nations of Japan and Germany for more than four years, with shorter tours in the Philippines and Afghanistan. I was a Public Affairs Noncommissioned Officer specializing in strategic communications. In reality, I was a propaganda artist. I was discharged honorably to the Individual Ready Reserve in 2007.
While I have always been against the war in Iraq, I began resisting it actively in 2008, after I received mobilization orders for a year-long deployment to Iraq. I refused those orders in Congress in May of 2008, calling my orders illegal and unconstitutional. I believed appealing to Congress would end the war. When 13 Members signed a letter of support for my decision and sent it to Bush, I thought we had won a victory for peace. This was more than two years ago. The president has changed, and the wars and destruction drag on.
Today, I am blocking the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment with my fellow vets and military family members because the wars will continue to victimize our communities until we halt this bloody machine from within. I am putting my body on the line in solidarity with the people of the Middle East, whose bodies have been shot, burned, tortured, raped and violated by our men and women in and out of uniform. I cannot willfully allow Americans in uniform to put their lives and the lives of Iraqis in jeopardy for a crime. We are here because we have a responsibility to ourselves as veterans and as humans of the world. I will not rest until my people, ALL PEOPLE, are free.
In Struggle and Solidarity,
I am Cynthia Thomas, and I have been an Army Wife for 18 years. My husband has been deployed three times since the wars began. During his second deployment, he was severley wounded and medevaced to Walter Reed Army Hospital on Life Support. Even though he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, suffered three fractures in his back, three fractures on his pelvis and countless other injuries, the Army deployed him a third time. This was devastating to our two daughters, our step-son and to me.
Three months after my husband deployed for the third time, our step-son called to inform me he was joining the Marines. That was the exact moment I realized that our children would be fighting these endless wars. I decided that I needed to start resisting.
The reason I am doing this today is because for the past 3 years that I have been speaking out and advocating for Soldiers, things have only gotten worse. I have heard countless stories from Vets and Active Duty Soldiers that give people nightmares. I have heard stories from family members that would shock people awake if they would just listen! Our military community is being destroyed!
If these wars are destroying our Soldiers and military families with 12 to 15-month, often repeat deployments, how do you think the Iraqi and Afghan people doing? They have been living these wars 24/7, 365 days a year for nearly a decade! My youngest daughter is an Operation Iraqi Freedom baby. She was less than one-year-old when her father left to invade Iraq. I look at her, and I see an Iraqi or Afghan child having to live in constant fear with no end in sight! I am doing this for our community, for my girls, for my husband and our Marine. I am doing this for the Iraqi and Afghan People. Enough is enough. If Soldiers really want to go fight, they’ll have to go through me.
All five participants in the Fort Hood Disobeys blockade action. From left to right are Iraq Veterans Bobby Whittenberg-James and Crystal Colon, Jeff Grant, Military Spouse Cynthia Thomas and Afghanistan Veteran Matthis Chiroux.