By Brittany Whitley
Published: May 17, 2008
Auburn-native Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, 24, said response to his public
refusal to report to active duty and deploy to Iraq in June has been
Chiroux made the announcement Tuesday in Washington D.C.
"I'm receiving overwhelming support," the soldier said in a telephone
Chiroux said he has received more than 300 e-mails supporting his decision.
But not all of the reaction has been good.
There have been some messages posted on web sites that have
threatened bodily harm against the soldier.
"(We are) still plagued by a minority on the far right that is
completely okay with engaging in tactics to threaten and frighten
us," he said.
Chiroux will depart from the nation's capital this week and return to
Brooklyn, N.Y., where he is currently a freshman studying political
science at Brooklyn College.
Chiroux will then return to Washington D.C. in an attempt to win an
audience with a committee in Congress.
He said the goal is to talk to Congress and build support for war
resisters in the legislative branches of the government.
The war in Iraq is unlawful, in Chiroux's opinion, because it is
based on falsifications and lies.
"Originally we were told we were invading Iraq to find weapons of
mass destruction (WMD)," he said. "(And) that (the existence of WMDs)
was based on solid evidence"
He also said the Iraq War is over oil and not about defending America
"He who controls the oil controls the rules," Chiroux said.
Chiroux also said that because the United Nations did not authorize
the invasion, it is illegal.
Chiroux said he is not opposed to all war, just the Iraq War.
Therefore, he said, he cannot be classified as a conscientious
objector, or someone who refuses to be deployed into a war zone
because he or she believes war all is immoral.
"Had the army told me to go to Afghanistan, I would go to
Afghanistan," he said.
As a solider Chiroux said he felt he had a duty to defend his
country, but morally the Iraq War was just not an option.
Chiroux said he has been against the Iraq War since it began.
Civilian protestors like Cindy Sheehan gave him hope, he said, but
they failed to bring about change or stop the conflict.
He said he felt the same after a Democratic congress was elected in
2006, but that also failed to bring an end to the war.
"The only people who have any power left to move against this illegal
occupation is the soldiers themselves," he said.
As a solider, Chiroux said he tried not to get involved in the Iraq
"I was completely against the occupation from the very, very
beginning, but as a solider I thought it was my responsibility to
keep my mouth shut," he said.
He said as a veteran, he was wary of being labeled as a soldier
trying to play politics.
"We much more consider ourselves as witnesses to a crime," Chiroux
said, referring to himself and others like him who believe the Iraq
Conflict is illegal.
It is the responsibility of soldiers to report crimes to superiors,
Chiroux has put in over four years of active service in Germany,
Japan, Afghanistan and the Philippines since his enlistment in the
U.S. Army in June 2002.
He said he understood that he could be deployed again after returning home.
A soldier is enlisted in the Army for eight years, typically with
four years on active duty.
"They are not safe until the eighth year," Nathan Banks, a Pentagon
The Army decides the need for a particular person or a person's
specialty, Banks said.
"(It is a process) that can happen or may not happen," he said,
referring to soldiers being re-deployed after they return home.
"They have every right to call me up," Chiroux said. "(But the
policy) puts the burden of war on veterans who have already served," he said.
email@example.com | 737-2525