By Dee Knight
Published May 29, 2009
In real life Travis Bishop is best known for his acoustic country
music CD, "So Here We Go." He is also known as Sgt. Bishop, currently
AWOL from Fort Hood after refusing to deploy with the 57th Elite
Service Battalion to Afghanistan. He told his story recently in
"A few days before I was set to deploy, I was approached by members
of an organization who told me that I had a choice. They told me that
they were here to support me, and that if I really was against the
war our country was currently in, I could choose not to go. All those
old feelings and worries came back with a vengeance, and I began to
question the war again. After a full day of thinking, the only reason
I had come up with for me to go was the fact that my best friend was
going too. ... I hope that he can forgive me one day.
"So the afternoon I was set to deploy, while everyone else was
loading their gear in the van headed toward the airfield, I loaded my
gear in my car, and left. It was the hardest decision I have ever made."
Bishop doesn't want to be AWOL for months or think of himself as a
deserter. But, he says: "I believe that this particular war is
unjust, unconstitutional and a total abuse of our nation's power and
influence. And so, in the next few days, I will be speaking with my
lawyer, and taking actions that will more than likely result in my
discharge from the military, and possible jail time ... and I am
prepared to live with that."
After five months in the Army, Dustin Che Stevens sat down during
Airborne graduation in 2002 in order to refuse graduation. He was
told to go home and wait for his discharge. Seven years later, he was
arrested after being stopped for a traffic violation in his hometown
of Louisville, Ky. He is charged with desertion. He is now awaiting
court martial at Fort Bragg, N.C."Home of the Airborne." While
waiting, Stevens told Courage To Resist: "I started reading
[literature on conscientious objection] and started thinking for
myself. I knew in my heart and in my mind that I could not kill
anyone. ... I went back and told them that."
Stevens will be court-martialed unless he "volunteers" to deploy to
Afghanistan. He shares a tiny 8-by-8-foot room with three other GIs
accused of desertion. He says there are about 60 others in detention,
most on AWOL charges, having left the Army during or after training.
"Lots of other guys return from AWOL and test positive for drugs, and
are processed out," he said. But if you return without evidence of
drug use, the Airborne wants you as a combat soldier in Afghanistan.
Stevens' attorney, James Branum, is determined to beat the desertion
charge and help him avoid a long prison sentence. To support Dustin
Che Stevens contact couragetoresist.org.
In a recent letter André Shepherd sent his "heartfelt thanks" to all
his supporters. Last Nov. 26 he applied for asylum in Germany. The
German Federal Office for Migration has not yet issued a decision,
which could take several more months. Commenting on his case, he
said: "This fight is not about a single soldier's bid for freedom.
Rather it is about whether or not the United States intentionally
violated international law and ultimately its own laws regarding wars
of aggression. Since the answer is so obvious, it should only be a
matter of time before we get a ruling to that effect. Nevertheless,
we have to remain vigilant in our efforts to claim victory.
"It is important to consider that although the War on Iraq is the
centerpiece of our arguments, we need to take a closer look at the
War on Afghanistan as well. ... It saddens me to say that we have
once again been hoodwinked into thinking that the actions of our
leaders were made purely by 'good intentions.' ... We must sound the
alarm on the destructive nature of this war, as well as the crimes
against humanity being perpetuated."
Shepherd continues a very active asylum campaign in Germany. He has
traveled across the country, "attending events and conferences that
feature not only me, but other soldiers from around the world who
have also decided to resist our Government's imperialistic designs."
He has been featured on numerous major news outlets.