Soldier who objected to gulf duty found guilty

December 18, 1990|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Sgt. George Morse, the Grayling, Mich., soldier who vowed to go to prison rather than serve in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to five months in jail after a special court-martial yesterday in Fort Riley, Kan.

Morse, 25, a seven-year Army veteran who objects to war on moral and religious grounds, was found guilty on eight counts of failure to obey orders as his unit was preparing to deploy to Saudi Arabia. He was demoted to private and faces a bad-conduct discharge.

Col. Richard Russell, the military judge who convicted and sentenced Morse after one day's testimony, gave nearly the maximum punishment for a special court-martial. Army officials decided against a general court-martial, which carries up to a five-year prison term.

Morse, whose scheduled Dec. 20 honorable discharge was canceled because of the Operation Desert Shield buildup, refused to help prepare cots for the deployment of the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized).

Morse tried to file for a conscientious objector discharge last month after the division was alerted for Persian Gulf duty. The Army refused to accept his application, saying he would have to file after deploying.

Morse played trumpet in the division band until last month, when he was transferred to the division's military police unit.

Morse did not testify yesterday, but his mother, Lorna Morse of Grayling, testified he grew up in an anti-war church environment. Morse has cited his Methodist faith as a factor in his decision to fight deployment.

"We tried to instill in our kids the value of not getting involved in school fights," Lorna Morse testified. "It didn't surprise me at all that he wouldn't deploy."

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