Camilo's Retreat

He left the war behind to enter a whole new controversy

He's also appealing his conviction on grounds that he is a conscientious objector. The military defines the term as someone whose beliefs don't allow him or her to kill other human beings. "I definitely question his timing on becoming a conscientious objector," opines Naugle. "If he was really antiwar, then why didn't he declare himself before we deployed?"

Jason Thomas, another Charlie Company soldier adds, "Every soldier fighting the current war willingly signed himself over to the U.S. military. As vehement as an anti-war activist as he is, Camilo did the same thing. So it irks me that some people treat him and others like him as martyrs."

Even soldiers who supported him acknowledge they resented Camilo for not coming back. "There were a lot of us who didn't agree with the way he handled things," Oliver Perez offers. "But I wouldn't call him a coward."

Camilo admits the hardest part of his decision to desert the war was leaving his fellow soldiers behind. "These people are my brothers regardless if I didn't agree with what we were doing," he says. "The type of bond that we formed in that type of environment is just so strong. So when you develop that bond and then the other person doesn't want anything to do with you, it's painful. It is like your brother telling you, 'I don't ever want to talk to you again.'"

Yes, he has been labeled a coward and a hero, Camilo continues. "But really I'm neither," he says. "Refusing and resisting this war was my moral duty. Instead I chose to fulfill my duty as a soldier because I was petrified of the consequences. Coming home back in October 2003 gave me the clarity to see the line between military duty and moral obligation."

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