From: Anchorage Daily News
The Army should grant conscientious objector status to Pfc. Michael Barnes, a Fort Richardson-based paratrooper who had his request for that designation denied last year, U.S. Magistrate John D. Roberts concluded Tuesday.
A native of Portland, Ore., Barnes, 26, said he enlisted in the Army for five years in March 2005 with the idealistic goal of “defending freedom and helping other people in countries no one else would help.
That same year, however, while training for deployment to Iraq as part of the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Fort Richardson, he grew increasingly troubled by the tales he heard from soldiers returning….
But after his unit landed in Kuwait, then Iraq, in the fall of 2006, he began to witness bad behavior firsthand….
“The cumulative evidence is that he was not acting — as the Army tried to argue — in a manipulative or an expedient fashion,” Fortier said. “He was following his conscience to a much higher calling than whatever the Army was expecting him to do.”