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SD Army Deserter Ordered To Return Home

August 13, 2008, 9:59 PM by Don Jorgensen

One of the first U.S. Army deserters from Iraq is being ordered to return back to the United States to face a military court martial.

That deserter is Jeremy Hinzman, a graduate from Rapid City Stevens High School. He went A.W.O.L. in 2004 when he learned his unit was to go to Iraq. He sought refugee status in Canada. 

But today the Canadian Border Services agency ordered him out of the country by September 23rd. KEOLAND News talked with Hinzman by phone today at his home in Toronto, Canada and he told me he'll likely go to prison now. 

Hinzman was a member of the Army's elite 82nd Airborne Infantry Division . He says he joined for college benefits and to serve his country. But soon began having second thoughts. 

"After I had gone through the training and served for two years I just realized I'm not made for killing people, and if people want to call me a coward than so be it," said Hinzman. 

Hinzman did serve in Afghanistan for eight and half months in 2003. When he learned he was about to be shipped off to Iraq, he asked to serve in a non-combatant role, but was denied.
That's when he refused to participate in what he calls an immoral and illegal war based on false pretenses. 

"There were no weapons of mass destruction, there were no links to al qaeda and the notion we were going to bring democracy was kind of shaky," said Hinzman. 

After the Immigration and Refugee Board rejected Hinzman claims of refugee status, he then took his pleas to the Supreme Court of Canada, which refused to hear the case. 

Now, Hinzman says he'll probably be brought back to the U.S, be dishonorably discharged and sent to prison. 

"I don't have any regrets, because I think every soldier who's refused to fight in Iraq has done the right thing by refusing to take innocent Iraqi lives," said Hinzman.

About 200 present-day US military deserters live in Canada, several of them in secret. Many have sought refugee status, albeit unsuccessfully. 

Canada received tens of thousands of US deserters during the Vietnam war.

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