Former soldier speaks out against war

By By Jade Gray and By Jade Gray

By Jade Gray

Jeff Paterson, a self-proclaimed “solider against the war,” informed U students last Thursday of another perspective on political issues.

Paterson, a former Marine, spoke about the war in Iraq and military resisters, sharing many stories from his experiences.

At 18, Paterson said he joined the Marine Corps because he didn’t see many other options at the time and wanted to see the world.

He was trained in artillery, and the first four years of his career were spent in South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. Paterson said it wasn’t what he thought it would be.

“I expected to visit famous places and learn about the culture,” he said. “Instead I was only allowed to visit ‘liberty zones,’ which were the only places we were allowed to go; they consisted of bad food joints and bars-which were essentially brothels.”

After the disappointment of not seeing the world he wanted to see, he began to think about the United State’s foreign policy and question why the United States was imposing foreign policy in Central America.

In 1990, Paterson was waiting to be deployed to Iraq during the Iraq-Kuwait conflict when one of his commanding ranks told the group that, after being deployed, its mission was to “kick their ass and steal their gas.”

At that point, Paterson felt he could not be a part of the U.S. action in the Middle East because he questioned the motives involved.

“I felt that we weren’t going to help anyone there,” he said.

He appealed his deployment order and was told by the military that he was not sincere enough in his beliefs. He was ordered to go to Iraq.

He and his commanding officers were spat on by several protesters, showing the large divide of support.

Paterson went on a hunger strike for six days in an attempt to avoid deployment and was successful. The military declared him to be a medical issue, so he was allowed to stay.

“I believe I avoided deployment because of support from the community,” he said.

Paterson faced five years in prison for military injustice but didn’t serve prison time.

Now Paterson supports other resisters and encourages the public to think about what is really going on.

“We can’t hold ourselves accountable when we (the United States) are torturing people,” he said.

At one point in the discussion, Wallace Hoffman, a Vietnam veteran, told Paterson he was a hero.

“If all you do is follow orders, you’re no different than a Nazi,” he said.

Natalie Green, an undeclared freshman and the only U student who attended, said discussions such as this are effective.

“It’s necessary for people like Jeff to share their viewpoint, because not all of us see these things happening,” she said.

The Veterans for Peace and Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice sponsored the event.

Kim Peterson

Jeff Paterson speaks about his service as a marine and his current opposition of the war in Iraq during a lecture in the Union on Thursday.