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Marines jail another Vietnam resister

By Eric Ruder | January 27, 2006 | Page 1

THE MARINES have taken another antiwar soldier into custody--more than three decades after the soldier walked away from the military. Ernest McQueen, who served in the military for nearly two years until he left his unit in 1969, was arrested by Fort Worth, Texas, police on January 11.

"The Marines are trying to send a message to their troops in Iraq that deserters will always be hunted down and prosecuted, even 40 years after they resist," said Tod Ensign, legal director of Citizen Soldier, a GI and veterans' rights advocacy group.

McQueen said he was "gung-ho" when he enlisted at age 17. But then he learned of the 1968 My Lai Massacre, in which U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of civilians in a Vietnamese village. He heard other stories from returning soldiers about the horrors of the war. "I said, 'Wow. What have I done?'" he said of his decision to join. "I just decided I didn't want to be a part of killing anybody. That's about as plain as I can say it."

The same day that McQueen, now 55 years old, was arrested, the Marines released Jerry Texiero, a 65-year-old man who had been detained for refusing to appear for duty in 1965. Rather than prosecute him, the Marines decided to give him an other-than-honorable discharge. But only after holding the senior citizen for five months!

As far as McQueen is concerned, he's at peace with himself. "What more can you do to me?" says McQueen. "I've lived a good life...I don't think anybody that went to 'Nam can honestly come back and say, 'Yes, we did the right thing.' It was a mistake from Day One, and the only people who don't want to admit it's a mistake is the politicians."

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