Sunday, March 26, 2006


For some reason I find the difference between Desmond Doss and Jeremy Hinzman amazing.

Desmond Doss was an avowed 7th Day Adventist who, since childhood, had a long standing, deeply held belief against taking another life. He also believed in a duty to his country. He refused to be discharged for being conscientious objector, even though his beliefs would have entitled him for one. While serving as a medic in the Pacific theatre he saved the lives of 75 of his fellow Soldiers, and earned the Medal of Honor, the only conscientious objector to receive the highest award America can bestow.

*UPDATE* Seems I may be mistake about that last line. SGT Alvin York had applied for CO status, and it seems that there is some question what is actual status was. Even if Doss wasn't the only CO to earn a MoH, he's the only total non-combatant to have earned it.

Jeremy Hinzman is a coward who joined the Army for college money, and was surprised that going through airborne training, and being assigned to the 82nd airborne, would mean he's going into combat. As near as I can tell he and his wife attended a meeting of the Quakers, and the next day he applied for conscientious objector status because of his newly found beliefs. While his application was being processed he served in non-combat roles in Afghanistan, and upon returning to the US renewed his application. The CO board was held, and found he didn't meet the Army's requirements since he wasn't completely against violence in all forms.

Orders come down for Iraq, and he high-tails it to Canada, where he proceeds to become a darling of the anti-war movement. Even teaming up with a PR firm to try and promote his beliefs and cause. It seems his efforts were for naught as the Canadian courts have ruled that he's not entitled to conscientious objector status for the same reason the Army said he wasn't. Canada's Federal court announced it will review his application. I haven't seen any report of them doing so yet.

I firmly believe that there is no problem on Earth that a Soldier can face that is improved by going AWOL or deserting. You hear it often that Soldiers feel it's their only recourse. All that happens is they're left with the same original problem, and NOW they're facing an article 15 or worse. Hinzman's a little coward who wanted everything his way, even though he wasn't entitled to it. The Army's (and apparently Canada's) standard for being a conscientious objector is you have to be a pacifist. You must be against violence and killing in all its forms. Hinzman isn't. He's even said himself that he would support violence, but only on particular terms. Because of that he's not a CO.

So now, he's in Canada, barred from his own country, and afraid to return because he doesn't wish to face the consquences of his actions. He's looking at a 5 year stint at Leavenworth and a dishonorable discharge. His kid is going to grow up and learn that his father was a honorless coward.

What I find funny is if Hinzman had simply done his duty, he'd be done and gone. He went airborne, I'd find myself surprised if he joined for more than a 4 year hitch. He joined in early 2001, and was supposed to go to Iraq in 2004. He'd have come back and his contractual term would have been up. He could have taken his honorable discharge, gone to the IRR, and spent the rest of his statutory obligation pursuing his CO status. Instead, he took the "easy way" and ran away leaving him facing jail. There is a lesson in there for someone.

I find myself not really caring what happens to Hinzman. I hope Canada orders him deported back to the US to face punishment. But if they don't, well, he's still a dishonorable coward, and he'll have to live with that for the rest of his worthless life. I'd actually be a bit more impressed to see him come back to the US and face his punishment. It would show a bit more backbone than he's done so far.

Desmond Doss found that his beliefs required him to serve. He did so honorably and courageously. He faced death countless times, and was wounded in combat trying to save his comarades. His name stands among the bravest to ever serve, and he did it all without firing a shot. Jeremy Hinzman isn't a fraction of the man that Desmond Doss was, and I can't help but feel that I'm dirtying the name of a great man by mentioning them in the same space. I also can't help but feel that Doss would be more... forgiving... of Hinzman than I am. But that's what made him a hero and me not one.


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