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Related Categories: California | Anti-War
AWOL Iraq veteran Agustin Aguayo speaks out against war, returns to Army base
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name (jeff [at] paterson.net)
Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
After escaping a second forced Iraq deployment via a window in Germany, medic reports to Mojave desert Army base to continue fight for conscientious objector discharge
1-aguayo6.jpg
After escaping a second forced Iraq deployment via a window in Germany, medic reports to Mojave desert Army base to continue fight for conscientious objector discharge

By Jeff Paterson
September 26, 2006

FORT IRWIN, CA – Standing in front of Mission Los Angeles, Army Specialist Agustin Aguayo explained to a throng of media his irreconcilable objections to returning to Iraq, even as a medic.

Agustin, a 34-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, explained that he was not anti-war when he enlisted in 2002. But his military experiences changed him. He applied for a conscientious objector discharge in February 2004 before he was sent to Tikrit, Iraq for a year as a combat medic. He has unsuccessfully fought the Pentagon for a discharge since.

A few weeks ago, Agustin escaped through his base apartment window at Schweinfurt, Germany U.S. Army base to resist another forced deployment to Iraq. With the help of German anti-war activists, he made his way back to the United States.

At this morning’s downtown Los Angeles press conference, Agustin declared, "Why am I turning myself in? Because it is the right thing to do. It is the responsible thing to do. I'm not a deserter or a coward. I just felt that I needed to be unavailable for this movement because I have come to believe that it is so wrong."

Surrounded by dozens of supporters from organizations such Military Families Speak Out, American Friends Service Committee, MEChA., CodePink, Courage to Resist, and Not in Our Name, Agustin’s family and friends expressed their gratitude for his courage in the face of an immoral and illegal war.

Helga Aguayo, Agustin’s wife of 15-years, said of her husband’s last deployment: "It changed him, and not in a good way. I've seen my husband die, little by little. The greatest lesson he could teach (our daughters) is to stand up for what you believe in, and if you don't, you hurt the people around you." She said that she hopes that their experience will strengthen others to speak out against the war as well.

Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son Jesus was one of the first soldiers killed in Iraq seven days into the invasion, said, "Agustin is a Mexican American like my son and me. For me, it's an honor to support him. It's very important for people to understand the Hispanic community shows real patriotism. Immigrants come to this country to serve the United States, not to fight an immoral war in Iraq."

Lori Hurlebous of Oakland-based Courage to Resist added, "Agustin is one more voice in a string of people that are starting to come forward. I don't think the support will end here today. It's just begun." Courage to Resist has recently been working to support Army Lt. Ehren Watada who is the first military officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, among other current military war objectors.

At the Fort Irwin National Training Center, Spokesman John Wagstaffe said Agustin will go through processing and will either be sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for discharge, or back to Germany to face military prosecution. He could be in custody at Fort Irwin for up to 72 hours. Wagstaffe said that because of its location in Southern California, Fort Irwin processes, on average, about 20 AWOL soldiers per month, “Some months it is closer to 40.”

Minutes after Agustin was hard cuffed, frisked, and taken in custody near the Fort Irwin visitor’s center at dusk this evening, his attorneys filed a new Federal Court appeal requesting his immediate release from military service as a conscientious objector.

For additional information about Agustin’s case, visit http://www.aguayodefense.org
§Press Conference at Mission Los Angeles
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo with supporters
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§DeDe Miller, Gold Star Families for Peace
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo speaks to the media with family and friends looking on
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Mission priests declare their support for war objectors
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Fernando Suarez del Solar, Agustin Aguayo, and wife Helga Aguayo
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo; Fernando Suarez del Solar in background
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo speaks out against war
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo backed by supporters and family
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo speaking to the LA-based Spanish language media
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Spc Agustin Aguayo turning himself in at Fort Irwin, near Barstow, California
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo's father offers last words of support
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin and wife Helga share last embrace
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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§Agustin Aguayo cuffed and taken into custody at Fort Irwin
by Jeff Paterson, Not in Our Name Wednesday Sep 27th, 2006 2:49 PM
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Against The war in IraqTyreeSaturday Oct 21st, 2006 1:13 PM
God bless you Agustin!AnnaFriday Oct 13th, 2006 4:58 AM
we love you agustin and helga god bless you and your familycoriSunday Oct 8th, 2006 9:56 PM
Free Citizen against Bush war!Joe SpennerWednesday Oct 4th, 2006 6:39 AM
We love you Agustin!CharlesFriday Sep 29th, 2006 1:34 PM
I love you Augstin!Kyle HuwerThursday Sep 28th, 2006 5:14 PM
Aguayo needs moneynutmegThursday Sep 28th, 2006 10:35 AM
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