Soldier who refused orders to be freed

April 16, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

DETROIT -- George Morse, the Grayling, Mich., soldier who made international headlines for refusing to go to the Persian Gulf, will walk out of the Fort Riley stockade in Kansas this week.

The 25-year-old is being released about 30 days before his five-month sentence ends -- he gets a month off for good behavior -- and possibly months before his former company, the Army 1st Infantry Division, returns from the war zone.

Mr. Morse said he would return to Grayling to look for work.

"I don't feel like a hero, and I don't feel like a coward," he wrote in a recent letter. "I did what I felt I had to do. I'm not bitter."

His parents, George and Lorna Morse; his wife, Andrea; and his 5-year-old daughter, Michelle, are waiting in nearby Manhattan, Kan., to greet him as soon as the Army completes the paperwork for his release.

His anti-war stance made him a hero to protesters, a coward to some people and a confused young man to others.

The volunteer Army allows soldiers to request conscientious objector status, but it rejected Mr. Morse's request in November. After his appeal was turned down as well, Mr. Morse was jailed and court-martialed for refusing to obey orders, including one to prepare cots for shipment to Saudi Arabia.

He sued in federal court. Mr. Morse lost the case, but the judge ordered the Army to start accepting CO applications. London-based Amnesty International declared him the United States' first prisoner of conscience in four years.

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