Road from ar Ramadi

The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía

The inspiring story of a soldier who fought in Iraq and refused to return

“The issues [Mejía] has raised deserve a close reading by the nation as a whole . . . he has made a contribution to the truth about Iraq.” —Bob Herbert, The New York Times

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía became the new face of the antiwar movement in early 2004 when he applied for a discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector. After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. His principled stand helped to rally the growing opposition and embolden his fellow soldiers.

Despite widespread public support and an all-star legal team, Mejía was eventually convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison, prompting Amnesty International to declare him a prisoner of conscience.

Now released after serving almost nine months, the celebrated soldier-turned-pacifist tells his own story, from his upbringing in Central America and his experience as a working-class immigrant in the United States to his service in Iraq—where he witnessed prisoner abuse and was deployed in the Sunni triangle—and time in prison. Far from being an accidental activist, Mejía was raised by prominent Sandinista revolutionaries and draws inspiration from Jesuit teachings. In this stirring book, he argues passionately for human rights and the end to an unjust war.

Praise

“Sergeant Mejía served his country bravely and well in Iraq; but he is serving his country better, and just as bravely, in his publicly announced refusal to participate further in what he correctly identifies as an illegal war using illegal means.”
—Daniel Ellsberg
“Sgt. Mejía and his 600 co-deserters could well be the harbingers of a new GI movement.”
The Guardian
“This is the extraordinary journey—geographical, intellectual, moral—of a U.S. soldier, from the front lines of Iraq to a military prison. Camilo Mejia, the first Iraqi veteran to refuse to return to Iraq, gives us a close look at the day-to-day brutality of the war. We learn what happens when a young man decides to challenge the entire military establishment in order to follow his conscience. It is an inspiring memoir.”
—Howard Zinn