Army Sgt. George Morse, 25, of Grayling, Mich., who vowed to go to prison rather than serve in Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to five months in jail after a special court-martial at Fort Riley, Kan.
Morse, a seven-year veteran who objects to war on moral and religious grounds, was found guilty Monday on eight counts of failure to obey orders as his unit was preparing to deploy to Saudi Arabia. He was demoted to private and faces a bad-conduct discharge when he finishes his jail term.
Col. Richard Russell, the military judge who convicted and sentenced Morse after one day's testimony, gave nearly the maximum punishment for a special court-martial. Army officials decided this month against a general court-martial, which can carry a five-year term.
Morse, whose scheduled honorable discharge Dec. 20 was canceled because of the Operation Desert Shield buildup, refused to help prepare cots for deployment of the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized).
Morse, who was seeking conscientious-objector status, tried to file for a CO discharge last month after the division was alerted for Persian Gulf duty. The Army refused to accept his application, saying he would have to file after being deployed.
Meanwhile, Air Force officials said Monday that an "other than honorable" discharge would be given to Ronald Jean-Baptiste, 22, a native of Haiti and a New York City reservist who refused to go to Saudi Arabia. He has been restricted to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey since Nov. 29.
Jean-Baptiste, who cited his mother's cancer and what he felt was an incident of racial bias by the military as grounds for his refusal, had faced as long as four years in prison if court-martialed.