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From Holden:

Especially those who refuse to fight in an illegal war.

The night before his Army unit was to meet to fly to Iraq, Pvt. Brandon Hughey, 19, simply left. He drove all night from Texas to Indiana, and on from there, with help from a Vietnam veteran he had met on the Internet, to disappear in Canada.

In Georgia, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, whose family ties to military service stretch back to the American Revolution, filed for conscientious-objector status and learned that he will face a court-martial in May for failing to report to his unit when it left for a second stint in Iraq.

One by one, a trickle of soldiers and marines – some just back from duty in Iraq, others facing a trip there soon – are seeking ways out.


“There are a lot of people, many more than normal, who are trying to get out now,” said Sgt. First Class Tom Ogden, just before he left for a second trip to Iraq with his Army aviation unit from Fort Carson, Colo. He said he had seen fellow soldiers in recent months who seemed intent on failing drug tests because they believed they would be held back if only their tests “came back hot,” while others claimed bad backs and necks, with the same hope.

“I’ll tell you what,” Sergeant Ogden said, “they’re coming up with what they consider some creative ways to do it now.”