Father Supports Son Who Refuses Iraq Duty

Bob and Ehren Watada
Bob and Ehren Watada
Bob Watada
Bob Watada
Army Lt. Ehren Watada
Army Lt. Ehren Watada

by Beth Hillyer

(KHNL) -- The events of September 11th motivated Ehren Watada to join the Army.

But the army officer is refusing to go with his unit to Iraq when they deploy this month.

His father Bob Watada, a former State Spending Commission Executive Director, says his son, "Decided he wanted to do what was patriotic and joined the Army so he could do his part for his country."

Lt. Ehren Watada is with a Stryker unit in Fort Lewis, Washington with orders to Iraq by month's end.

The elder Watada explains, "I think he became very disillusioned when he found out not only did we not have weapons of mass destruction but the planning for going to Iraq was going on well before 9-11."

Watada says several incidents contributed to his son's difficult decision.

"Since then he has seen the atrocities, the Abu Graib abuse."

Lt. Watada was most disturbed by the bloodshed on both sides.

"Their sons killed, daughter's killed, the Iraqis. He just felt he had to stand up and say something."

Lt. Watada himself took a stand against a different war.

In the 60's, Watada protested the Vietnam war.

"It was clear in my mind the very last thing I was going to do was go to Vietnam and kill Vietnamese it was just wrong."

Watada adds, "We certainly protested agaisnt the United States invovlement in Vietnam Now his son is refusing to fight a war he feels is a mistake.

"I am very proud of him he is taking the stand that is much more courageous much more difficult."

Watada knows the Army will take action and his son may face jail time.

But the elder Watada says his son won't be alone, "I'm gonna be there with him, I'm gonna be there with him."