Camilo E. Mejia
Former Staff Sergeant, Florida National Guard
Camilo E. Mejia was a former Staff Sergeant in the Florida National Guard and author of Road from Ar Ramadi (New Press).
He grew up in Nicaragua and Costa Rica before moving to the United States in 1994. He joined the military at age nineteen, serving as an infantryman in the active duty Army for three years before transferring to the Florida National Guard. Mejía spent five months in Iraq (his first combat tour after enlisting), then returned for a 2-week furlough to the US after which he did not return for duty. He was charged with desertion and sentenced to one year in prison for refusing to return to fight in Iraq. In March 2004 he turned himself in to the US military and filed an application for conscientious objector status.
Mejía said that he left his post in order to avoid duties that could be considered war crimes: more specifically, the abuse and torture of detainees. Mejía was court-martialed, and sentenced to one year confinement, reduction to the rank to Private E-1, and given a Bad Conduct Discharge. During his time in custody Amnesty International recognized Mejia as a prisoner of conscience and he was awarded by Refuse and Resist with its Courageous Resister Award. He currently lives in Miami.