Thursday, Feb 14, 2008
By Lance Griffin
Brad McCall is running from the United States government, and wants
everyone to know.
McCall, a Dothan native, now lives in a house in Vancouver, Canada,
with several anti-war sympathizers who took him in about six months
ago after he ran away from the Army.
His critics call him a coward. His supporters say he is brave. He
simply calls himself a war resister.
But you can't call him a draft dodger. He joined the Army on his own
in Louisville, Ky., in 2006, and said he supported the U.S. war
effort in Afghanistan and Iraq. But after a few weeks in basic
training he said he changed his mind when he heard the stories from
soldiers returning from a tour in Iraq.
"They were telling us all of the things they did over there; things
where you would have thought you were listening to the Nazi
tribunals," McCall told the Dothan Eagle in a telephone interview.
"Innocent people were dying, more of them than the terrorists. That's
when I realized I couldn't go over there and be a part of that."
And that's when McCall said his political views changed as well.
"When I joined up, I agreed with our mission, which was we were
fighting terrorism," he said. "And I agreed that we were looking for
weapons of mass destruction, taking a tyrant out of office and
bringing freedom to a people that had never known freedom before.
"But now I see the war as being about money to line the pockets of
politicians and corporations. It's a battle over (expletive), pretty much."
He said he also believes the terrorists have been provoked by the
actions of the United States.
"The terrorists we're fighting are really just guys protecting their
neighborhoods," he said. "If someone came to where I was living like
that, I would get my gun and protect my family as well."
Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting, a 30-year Army veteran who served two tours
in Vietnam and was shot down multiple times by enemy soldiers, said
McCall deserves to be punished for desertion.
"Mr. McCall administered an oath when he joined the Army," Bunting
said. "That oath obligated him to defend and support our
Constitution. I have no use for deserters and perhaps his critics
have found the right name to call him.
"What will it take to make believers out of the many who do not
understand we are a nation at war, against an enemy made up of
fanatics (who are) bound, determined and prepared to destroy this
nation and the freedoms we have fought and sacrificed our youth for
more than 200 years? Mr. McCall is a deserter and should get no less
than what deserters of past wars received."
McCall said he applied for conscientious objector status, but was
denied because his objections were born out of political beliefs and
not religious ones.
He was assigned to A Company, 1/67 Armor, 4th Infantry Division, and
was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq in June 2008. So, McCall fled to
Canada in September 2007.
McCall grew up in south Dothan, close to Cottonwood. He attended
school in Cottonwood and Slocomb before dropping out and finishing as
a home schooler. He said he "partied too much" in Dothan and had
moved to Kentucky to live with his brother. He said he joined the
Army because he needed money for college.
"I didn't really realize what I was getting myself into," he said.
McCall's choices have alienated him from his family, whom he refers
to as "conservative."
McCall's brother is a pastor and his sister in North Carolina is
married to a pastor. They still talk, but conversations are often
awkward and tense, he said.
McCall is expected to go before a Canadian Court later this month
where he has applied for refugee status. He expects to lose, then he
predicts a long appeals process. He said he hopes the political
climate in Canada changes before his appeal options run out. If it
does, he plans on living the rest of his life in Canada.
If it doesn't, he said he is willing to serve time in a military
prison as a war deserter.
"If somehow I get deported, then I guess I will be serving some time
in Ft. Leavenworth," he said. "Do I think that's fair? No, because
I'm standing up for my moral right to make decisions for myself. But
I'll do it."
According to the Associated Press, the Army classified 3,301 soldiers
as deserters in 2006. Military law allows for war-time deserters to
be put to death, although that has not happened since 1945. Some are
court-martialed and spend time in prison. Many others are