By Rick Rogers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
December 7, 2004
Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Paredes followed through on his plan: He refused to board his Navy ship yesterday morning when it sailed for Iraq with thousands of Camp Pendleton Marines.
For nearly two hours, the weapons-control technician sat on his ship's pier at the 32nd Street Naval Station. He talked with media and waited to be arrested, but the arrest didn't happen.
A Navy spokesman said Paredes, 23, wasn't taken into custody because he hadn't violated any regulations. Navy procedures stipulate that an officer can't be listed as missing until an official roll has been called aboard ship.
"Paredes is considered (to be) in an unauthorized absent status," said Cmdr. William Fenick, spokesman for the 3rd Fleet. "He is encouraged to check into any naval facility as soon as possible. Sailors have an obligation to get under way when their ships deploy, and today over 5,000 sailors and Marines met that obligation and began their deployment."
Paredes believes he wasn't detained because of the media presence. On Sunday, he had called newspapers and radio and TV stations to announce his anti-deployment intentions.
Paredes had planned to publicly throw his military I.D. into the ocean to underscore his stand against the war. But yesterday, he changed his mind after learning that he could be charged with destruction of government property.
Paredes held firm, however, when a Navy officer tried to persuade him to board the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, which transports Marines to the Middle East.
"I told him that I don't plan on getting under way, that I refuse, that I resign," Paredes said yesterday afternoon in a phone interview.
Paredes had joined the Navy in 2000. He was stationed in Japan until now, he said, and didn't think he had a direct connection to the war in Iraq.
Paredes might be the first local sailor to refuse deployment on the grounds of being philosophically opposed to the Iraq war, said Sam Samuelson, spokesman for the San Diego Naval Station.
Paredes is looking for a lawyer to represent him for free before he turns himself in to the Navy.
"I knew what was coming," Paredes said, "and now I just have to see it through."