Actions initiated in order refusal
November 17, 2004
Reservists could learn this week what their punishments will be in convoy incident
By Jeremy Hudson
(Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger
Administrative actions have been initiated against some members of the Army Reserve unit who refused a convoy order in Iraq last month and others could face criminal charges, officials said.Members of the Rock Hill, S.C.-based 343rd Quartermaster Company who refused a convoy order Oct. 13 could learn this week what their punishments will be, some relatives said. Sgts. Larry McCook and Michael Butler, both of Jackson, were among the 18 reservists who refused the order, citing contaminated fuel, poor leadership and ill-equipped vehicles.
The 300th Area Support Group commander reviewed the initial findings of an investigation and "certain administrative actions have been initiated as a result of this review and more actions, including criminal charges, are possible in the future," Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad, said in an e-mail. Military administrative actions are not public record, he said. Boylan would not provide the identities or number of soldiers being considered for criminal charges.
Beverly Dobbs, mother of Spc. Joseph Dobbs, 19, of Vandiver, Ala., said her son was told he could face nonjudicial punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The criminal charges would be willful disobeying of a superior command officer and insubordinate conduct, she said.
Under the Military Code of Judicial Conduct, the maximum penalty for the criminal violations would be a dishonorable discharge and up to five years in confinement, said Mark Stevens, a military law expert at North Carolina Wesleyan College. Punishments vary by rank, he said.
"We are hoping for an Article 15," said Beverly Dobbs. "I'd rather have that than have to even think about prison for my son. I don't feel like anything should happen to any of them."McCook and Butler were among five soldiers assigned to different units after the refusal. Their wives, Patricia McCook and Jackie Butler have been outspoken in support of their husbands. But the wives did not return repeated phone calls Tuesday.
Ricky Shealey of Quinton, Ala., father of Spc. Scott Shealey, 29, said the soldiers appeared before a review board this weekend and were told they needed to seek legal counsel. "We are just on pins and needles right now," he said.
Boylan said the soldiers continue to have access to legal counsel, but Ricky Shealey said his son has not yet seen an attorney.
The Pentagon has said the soldiers raised some "valid" concerns in their refusal, but they were expressed improperly.
"These guys need some really good legal counsel because a lot of things (including later discharge) need to be considered before they accept the Article 15," Stevens said.