April 5, 2007
Mark is currently severing 7 months confinement at Fort Sill, OK. He is in high spirits and hopes to post an update to the blog shortly. Please send him your letters of support:
c/o Sarah Wilkerson
PO Box 25037
Colorado Springs, CO 80936
April 5, 2007
Yesterday, February 22nd Spc. Mark Wilkerson was sentenced to 7 months in prison with a Bad Conduct Discharge. Mark was charged with an Article 85 (desertion) and an Article 87 (missing movement) after failing to return from block leave on January 3rd, 2005. In December he signed a plea bargain admitting to his guilt and lessening his sentence from a maximum of 6 years to a maximum of 10 months.The Court Martial room was filled to capacity with family, friends, and supporters including members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and approximately 15 active duty soldiers.
The Court Martial began with a formal review of the charges and then proceeded to witness testimony. Six people testified on Mark’s behalf including his mother, wife, brother (who is presently active duty and appeared in uniform), a Sergeant, Sergeant First Class and Staff Sergeant, two of whom served with Mark in Iraq. None of the witnesses were cross-examined by the prosecutors, nor did the prosecution present witnesses testifying on their behalf.
February 23, 2007
I am now a twenty three year old man. When I made the decision to join the Army, I was a boy. When I made the decision to go AWOL I was still in many ways a boy.
I realize in retrospect that going AWOL may not have been the right decision for me to make, but given the circumstances I found myself in at that time, I felt it was the only logical decision for me. I felt as though I wasn’t being taken seriously by my chain-of-command. I was crushed when my conscientious objector application was denied. I had failed somehow in conveying in words just what I felt in my head and heart, and that was that I could not, in good conscience, serve as a soldier in the United States Army. I could not deploy to a foreign land with a weapon in my hand, representing my government. I am not willing to kill, or be killed for my government. When I enlisted in the Army, I thought I would be able to, but after Iraq, my beliefs became such that I could no longer participate.
This was what I told my chain-of-command. I felt they didn’t care what I said or believed. So I fled. I quit my job. No other occupation in the United States punishes you as badly as what the military does for quitting your job. But that’s ok. I’m willing to face whatever punishment the government deems appropriate.
In my Battalion’s Retention Office, there is a quote by Retired Army General Bernard Rogers, and it states “This is a volunteer force. Soldiers volunteer to meet our standards. If they don’t meet them, we should thank them for trying and send them home.” Well, I enlisted into the Army with the best intentions. I had other options. But I wanted to serve my country. And when I felt my country was doing the very thing we pretend to condone, I took a stand. And to me that is the core of democracy. If the Army feels as though I didn’t meet the standards, they should thank me for trying and send me home. There’s no lesson prison can teach me. Prison is established for criminals who committed crimes that the majority of our society can say in morally wrong. And with this crime, I don’t know if that can be said. Even though I committed a crime, I’m no criminal. And even if I do go to prison, I’m no longer a prisoner. My conscience is clear. I’m no menace to society. I have stayed true to myself and my moral code throughout my life, and that will never change. Just let me live my life, and I know I will live it well.
December 1, 2006
A few weeks ago, I got a call from my grandma on my father’s side. She had something really important to tell me, she said. Now, a little background on that side of my family. My father was in the Army, I had two uncles in the military. My grandpa was in the Navy during WWII, and he met my grandma, who was also in the military in some capacity, during those times. Going back to our country’s first conflicts, my family had deep roots in fighting for this country. My grandma’s favorite hobby is genealogy, the study of my family’s roots. So when she called me, she was telling me about how her half-brother had died fighting in Nicaragua during the 1920’s, and how her dad became enraged, and wrote the U.S. president, at the time Calvin Coolidge, to tell him what he thought. Here now is his letter, which my grandma came across only a few weeks ago: Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2006
A friend of mine told me about this poem, and gave a book of E.E. Cummings poems. Now, I’ve never been a reader of poetry. I guess I always thought it was too, I don’t know, odd for me. But having read many poems, at least by Cummings, I’ve come to really appreciate it. It’s a real challenge, reading poetry. It requires reading out loud, and looking at each and every word and fitting each word together to make a relevent meaning. Poetry is like constructing a puzzle. It’s challenging, it’s new, it’s mysterious. It’s wonderful; especially this poem, which I can relate with, uh, rather well. Olaf is my homeboy.
October 29, 2006
Earlier this week, we junior enlisted soldiers were asked to write a paragraph about our experiences in Iraq. Supposedly, these statements were going to be read by someone important, a retired general maybe. Maybe they’re trying to find out what the soldiers think. Anyway, this gave me a good oppurtunity to say what I think to someone who might have some say in what happens in Iraq. Here it is: Read the rest of this entry »
October 15, 2006
Let me comment a little on military cadence: They’re songs that are shouted during PT sessions in the early morning. The head of the group running will yell a little rhyme, and the soldiers running will repeat it. Supposedly, it helps us to breathe easier while we’re running. But I have always felt that it’s just another way for our leaders to maintain their authority on us, and I always found the cadences rather annoying. Let me give some examples:
October 1, 2006
Here’s a short list of some of the many protest songs that have gotten me through Iraq and through my AWOL experience.
Masters of War – Bob Dylan – Greatest protest song ever. Recently, some kids in Boulder, Colorado decided to sing Masters of War at a talent show, and Secret Service showed up. Just shows that this song still scares the government.
When The President Talks To God – Bright Eyes – Conor Oberst gives his best Bob Dylan impersonation with this brilliant song which questions just how well our president REALLY knows God.
Imagine – John Lennon – A beautifully written song, full of optimism and hope.
Peace, Love, and Understanding – Elvis Costello – “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and understanding?” Nothing. Read the rest of this entry »
September 26, 2006
I haven’t been a big fan of war films since I have returned from Iraq. Before Iraq, I was a huge fan. All the action, and the patriotic inuendo in the films. But since Iraq, I have come to realize that films like “Saving Private Ryan”, “We Were Soldiers” and “Black Hawk Down” spout patriotism, and use soldiers, and, in the case of “Black Hawk Down”, the civilians of Somalia, as props, just to be blown up for the entertainment of the audience watching, and to raise the testosterone of potential recruits for the military. There are very few war films that I feel show the realism of warfare, while not preaching to the audience too much about the necessities of warfare. Soldiers are real people with real emotions and dreams and goals and lives. Films like “Born of the Fourth of July”, “Platoon”, “The Thin Red Line”, and “Full Metal Jacket” I feel are the most disturbing, realistic war films, that show the emotions and the mixed feelings that soldiers go through. I feel the the new movie “Jarhead” JUST ABOUT fits that description.
September 10, 2006
Greetings from Ft. Hood, TX. My first week here has come to an end, and in all honesty, it was a good week. It was a week spent reuniting with old friends, meeting new soldiers, getting acquainted with my chain-of-command, and, in general, re-familiarizing myself with the military. My body is sore now from all the exercising I’m doing again. But it’s a good pain-I’m getting in shape again. And that feels nice. And while it’s nice to be spending time with my Army friends, after work it definitely feels nice to go to my own room and spend some time with myself. I’m reading more again. I haven’t read this much since my deployment to Iraq. It’s something I’ve always loved doing, but I always make excuses to not do it. Well, no more. This week alone I’ve read Fast Food Nation, 1984, Creature by John Saul, and The Husband by Dean Koontz.