Published on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 by The
After two deployments, Marine doesn’t want to go back, could face jail
When Benjamin Lewis was 17, he joined the Marine Corps' delayed entry program, looking for a new direction in his life. He had dropped out of school and was struggling. The military seemed like a good option.
Benjamin Lewis chats with a patron as he tends bar at Block 15. After doing two tours in
After two deployments to
The road to that decision was a long one.
After a crash course in Arabic, Lewis became a translator for his platoon on patrols. He spent a lot of time on foot patrols in Haditha, living for months with local policemen there, sometimes working long hours with almost no sleep.
"We were really just making a show of force, marching around the streets and making a show of our presence."
After returning to the
"It was a very long and stagnant tour," he said.
He spent the last year of his service as an urban combat instructor in
"That was almost like being deployed. It was 14-hour days. You'd get a couple days off every 20 days or so."
In 2007, Lewis was honorably discharged from active duty. He moved to
As a Marine, Lewis had made an eight-year commitment to the Marines, so although he was discharged, he was still eligible for redeployment. But in the year since Lewis had left the Marines, he'd realized that he did not agree with the Marine Corps' actions in
Last month, Lewis went to
Lewis has contacted groups such as Courage to Resist and
COVALLIS, Wa. - "After being in the Marine Corps and joining up with the intention of helping people and hoping to execute those romantic ideals you see in the advertisement," he said, "once you're there you realize not only are you not capable of doing it, you're in an organization that suppresses any individual will to do such things."
Lewis started having these thoughts while training other Marines during his time with Mojave Viper. He said that having some distance from
"I was able to be more objective, and I was watching these mentalities," he said. "They started to scare me, the convictions that people had over things that were complete fallacies."
Later this month, Lewis plans to fly to
He's also awaiting his final orders, and he's dealing with the reality that his decisions could mean he'll face jail time.
"I made the resolve once I left 29 Palms that I would never go back into the Marine Corps."
© 2008 The Gazette Times
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
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