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FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO STAY OUT OF WAR

FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO STAY OUT OF WAR

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In the prison dorm where he will spend the next 10 months on a remote corner of this Marine installation, Lance Cpl. Doug Schiell won't see any yellow ribbons or hear the reports that Kuwait is about to be liberated.

In a curious flip side to the week's headlines, 21-year-old Schiell was sentenced Tuesday for wartime desertion - one of a group of activated reservists who are seeking conscientious objector status but are being court-martialed in the meantime.The first batch of about 18 Camp Lejeune cases came up for hearings just as the allies launched a ground offensive and the U.S. Marines took the first spate of casualties.

And although the elite corps is the only branch with set provisions for conscientious objectors, the grim irony of the timing was seized upon by Marine Corps prosecutors arguing before Marine Corps judges.

``Perhaps in ordinary times this would be no big deal - but these are not ordinary times,' Capt. David Bauman said in prosecuting Schiell.

``As we speak, halfway around the world, alone, separated from family and loved ones, 580,000 men and women just like the accused are fighting an aggressor, a tyrant.'

Schiell, who grew up in rural Minnesota, joined the Marine reserves at 18 after moving to California.

It was not until after his unit was activated in December and was ordered to Okinawa that Schiell applied as a conscientious objector.

But early on, he said, he realized he made a mistake in signing the eight-year contract. On his second night at boot camp, he testified, he was on fire watch when he found a young recruit in a bathroom trying to hang himself and helped to cut him down.

``His drill instructor told him after, 'You shouldn't have saved him, you should have jumped on the guy's shoulders,' ' Schiell's young wife, Gina, tearfully told the military judge.

``That really started him thinking. They're supposed to harden themselves so they can kill. And he couldn't do it.'

Schiell's case was unusual not only because he had returned his military paychecks uncashed since September, but also that he was being ordered to a non-hostile area - Okinawa, Japan - instead of to the Persian Gulf.

Schiell's attorneys argued, therefore, that he resisted not because he was afraid, but because by going to Japan he would be freeing up other Marines to go to war. Asked why they had signed up for the Marines, of all divisions of the military, conscientious objectors have often quoted recruitment ads.

``The thing about 'the few and the proud' attracted me,' said 21-year-old New York City resident Sam Lwin, who joined at 18. ``My only answer is that people don't stop growing and learning the day they sign up for the military.'

New York attorney Ron Kuby, representing Lwin and several other Marines, argues that the military's Madison Avenue-class ad campaign - a far cry from ``Uncle Sam Wants You' - especially works on youths with few opportunities.

``It's a poverty draft. They emphasize the glitz, the brotherhood, the travel and the money,' said Kuby, who works with civil rights lawyer William Kuntsler.

``Nobody at the recruiting station showed (Lwin) a movie like 'Born on the Fourth of July.' They didn't have Ron Kovic sitting there saying, 'There's another side of this.' '

Since the beginning of the Persian Gulf crisis and its unprecedented call-up of reservists, the Pentagon has acknowledged receiving more than 200 applications for conscientious objector status.

But groups like the New York-based War Resisters League and Hands Off put the numbers much higher. They accuse the military of a campaign of intimidation against any would-be conscientious objectors.

Lwin claimed that when he tried to initiate the application process last fall, he was threatened by Marines within his unit.

A more serious complaint came up Tuesday in a preliminary hearing for a regular active-duty Marine who reported to Camp Lejeune but refused to deploy to Saudi Arabia. Defense attorneys claimed that Cpl. Daniel Gillis' staff sergeant tried to bodily force him to leave with his unit despite a pending conscientious objector application.

As a 3 a.m. bus waited to carry the unit to Cherry Point for a transport flight to Saudi Arabia, Gillis read from the Koran and prayed, refusing to get on the bus. Navy E-6 Kenneth Raines testified that a group of Marines were summoned to carry Gillis to the bus, and chaos ensued.

``There was just a pile of Marines on the floor, a bunch of them rolling around, screaming at each other,' Raines said, ``More force than I would have used.'

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