Refuse your orders!' An open letter from Marine and war resister

The author is a founding member of March Forward! and an organizer with the Our Lives, Our Rights campaign.

To my fellow Marines and service members,

My name is Sgt. Edward Pages. I’m deeply saddened by the constant, endless deployments of our brothers and sisters in uniform to the widely-hated occupation of Afghanistan.

I’m saddened by the thought of more of my brothers and sisters being sent off to fight and die for no reason other than profit for the corporations, which are looking to steal the vast wealth and resources of the Afghan people—a people who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. I recently read a poll that said that only eight percent of young Afghan men have even heard of the attacks on that terrible morning.

How long, brothers and sisters?

How long are we going to continue to fight and die? How many deployments? How many holidays must we be absent? How many of our children’s births and birthday celebrations must we continue to miss? How many Afghan children will have to lose their parents or their own lives before this war is over? A few years ago, I began asking myself these questions and I’m sure many of you are asking them right now. 

As an 18-year-old infantryman, I was stationed in Kings Bay, Ga., guarding the strategic assets of the United States. It was there that I met a young Marine by the name of Jason L. Dunham. Many of you may recognize the name.

After my first tour, I got out of the Marines honorably. A year and a half after my EAS date I learned that Cpl. Jason L. Dunham had died after jumping on a grenade to save his Marines in Iraq. I was so deeply moved by Cpl. Dunham’s sacrifice that I returned to active duty immediately. This time I became an intelligence analyst. I did so because I figured that if only the intelligence Cpl. Dunham had on that day was perhaps a little more accurate then maybe, just maybe, he would still be here today.

I went back in the Marines this time a bit older and a bit wiser. I quickly started to see behind the curtain of U.S. foreign policy immediately, as I was privy to information most of us are not allowed to see or know about. I began to realize that I had been lied to about everything. I watched Marines around me being deployed all over the globe without so much as a clue as to the real reasons we were being sent to kill and be killed.

Cpl. Dunham became the first Marine awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. The part of this that the press did not mention was that Cpl. Dunham had died in vain. He did not have to be on that patrol that day. He did not have to be in Iraq to begin with.

Cpl. Dunham was sent there by politicians who would never walk into the alley in which he died, who sent him there to do nothing but conquer a sovereign country for oil giants and defense contractors.

Cpl. Dunham’s family received some money from insurance and a medal from the Commander in Chief, but they will never again see their son.

By the time I received orders to deploy to Iraq—what I had re-joined the Marines to do—I realized that I could not morally go to fight in a country that had never done anything to me or to my family. I began to understand that if I was in the position of most Iraqis, I too would pick up a gun and fight for my family and for my country.

I refused those orders to deploy. I have never once regretted it.

Since then I have seen too many of my fellow Devil Dogs die, lose limbs, their sight, their families or their minds for no reason.

Recently, a U.S. military commander told a reporter in southern Helmand province that he has come to know that the Afghan war is “more like 'Tom and Jerry' cartoon which never ends, the only difference is the cartoon does not claim lives, but here we lose men every day.”

Death and life-changing injuries, for both U.S. troops and Afghan civilians, are at the highest levels since the war began. This shows no signs of stopping.

I refused my orders to Iraq, and you can refuse your orders to Afghanistan. This will be a decision you will not regret. It will be a decision that you can be proud to tell your children and grandchildren about.

Semper Fi,

Sgt. Edward Pages

You're not alone. Click here to get more information about how you can refuse deployment to Afghanistan.


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