Hawaii Soldier Explains Refusal to Deploy

1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada
1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada
Carolyn Ho
Carolyn Ho
Bob Watada
Bob Watada

(KHNL) - A Hawaii soldier, refusing to deploy with his unit to Iraq, is gaining a lot of national attention and support.

First Lieutenant Ehren Watada spoke to the news media for the first time, in a press conference in Tacoma, Washington.

"It's my conclusion that the war isn't only morally wrong but it's illegal. Thus, it's my obligation and duty to refuse any orders to participate in this war," said Watada.

He's stationed at Fort Lewis and is refusing to go to Iraq later this month. Watada joined the Army in 2003, but says his feelings have since changed.

"I think the turning point for me was when I saw the pain and suffering of so many families and soldiers and innocent Iraqis," said Watada.

Earlier in the day, his parents and supporters gathered in Honolulu.

"It's an act of patriotism, it's an act of conscience," said Carolyn Ho, Watada's mother.

Some local lawmakers are also standing behind the Hawaii soldier.

"It is his statement that is important and it's his right as an American," said Sen. Clayton Hee.

But Army officials may not be as understanding. They've already disapproved his request to resign. They say refusing to obey orders is a serious matter and could subject him to adverse action. Whatever happens, his family says they'll be there for their son.

"I'm very, very proud of him," said Watada's father, Bob.

Watada was transferred to an administrative position after he submitted his resignation. He says since then, there's been a lot of negative sentiment among the soldiers on base.

His commander is now reviewing his case.