So a few weeks ago Army Sergeant mentioned that Camilo Mejia and Pete Hegseth were going to debate. Pete is the ED for Vets For Freedom, and Camilo holds a similiar sort of position within IVAW. Anyway, because I am a total dork, I decided to read up on Camilo. Obviously (as always) I started with Obiter Dictum. Then I just used Teh Google, and lastly I purchased his book at an Uber-discount from Amazon.com. This book is entitled Road From Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia.
If I were to write a book entitled Sex, Fame and Wealth: The life story of Bhutanease Generalisimo TSO, I would hope someone would ask the obvious. Do you really have sex, fame and wealth? I have more sex that your average monk, about the same fame as Eric Gagne’s pool boy, and the vast financial resources like those of the man who sleeps on a 14th street heating grate. Also, shockingly, I am not a Generalisimo of either the Bhutanease military, nor any other military, although I did achieve the rank of Sergeant in Azeroth for doing a few battlegrounds in World of Warcraft.
The Rebellion in question here wasn’t quiet, and this guy is not a staff sergeant. If he didn’t know that, he ought to have looked at his DD214. Or, he could have read his book, you know the end where it discusses him being demoted to E1. (So, “private” is right, but in the sense of rank, not in the sense of not being public.)
Camilo Ernesto Mejía was born in Managua, Nicaragua on August 28, 1975. He is named after Camillo Torres and Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Camilo is the son of famous Sandinista song-writer (according to Camilo, the “official singer of the Sandinista Revolution”) Carlos Mejia Godoy and a Costa-Rican born mother, Maritza Castillo. At five months old, Maritza and Carlos seperated, and Camilo and his brother moved initially to New York before returing to Costa Rica. At two and a half years old, Camilo’s family again moved back to Nicaragua where his mother began dating Camilo Ortega, brother of Daniel Ortega. In Managua, Camilo’s family lived in a posh neighborhood and had a maid and gardener. The children attended a school with the children of Nicaraguan givernment officials, including those of Daniel Ortega. In 1991, the Sandinistas were overthrown, and the family relocated back to Costa Rica again. In 1994 they moved to Florida. Camilo went to American Senior High School in Miami Lakes, while working a series of jobs.
I would leave the stuff about the Sandinistas out and stuff since it was his family and not him, but since he’s the head of the Miami, Florida International Socialist Organization, and he’s pointed to their involvement as the genesis of his current path…..it remains.
In 1995, Camilo enlisted in the Army as an Infantryman, and attended One Station Unit Training (Infantry Basic) at Ft. Benning. His mother claims that “The recruiter filled his head with pajaritos [Not speaking Spanish, I assume this refers to those pajamas with the little plastic feet] that he would see the world and make a lot of friends.” According to the article in the Miami News:
Camilo says he joined the army to become independent of his parents. “My father was the official singer for the Sandinista Revolution,” Camilo says. “I guess I wanted to escape it, find my own way, do my own things, and I found the military. I never really thought I would end up in a real war.”
Regardless, after OSUT, Camilo was assigned to Ft. Hood, Texas. “So I was assigned to a Bradley personnel carrier. My unit used to test all the new weapons systems that the army was buying from government contractors.” After three years, his initial Regular Army enlistment up, Camilo went to the Florida National Guard.
Camilo contends he never realized the full implication of his enlistment until he was about to complete three years of active duty. Every recruit who signs a military contract commits to at least eight years. The armed forces give enlistees the option of two to four years of active duty, then the balance in the reserves or National Guard. It’s all laid out in black and white, according to Naugle. [Naugle is his 1SG who referred to Camilo hilariously as a "Momma's Boy".] That he didn’t realize the commitment “is a crock,” he says. “When I signed my paperwork, it was perfectly clear what my commitment was.”
Camilo claims he was preoccupied with salary and tuition benefits. “I was nineteen years old,” Camilo says. “I was naive. Had I read the contract more carefully, would I have changed my mind? I don’t really know.”
Camilo was not a United States Citizen as of atleast 2005, but rather a dual citizen of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. When asked, Camilo stated that:
Well, the issue of being an American citizen, before we go into that, how do you define an American citizen? I came here when I was a baby. I learned to walk in New York City. I graduated from high school here. I have lived here longer than in any other place. I went to college. My daughter was born here. I went to war with the U.S. Army. I made a public stand because I believed in the law, and because I believe in dissent. So, the issue of being an American citizen, I guess, is the issue of how far you are willing to go for this country. In whatever way you choose to find. I believe that this is my home. So, fighting for this country was not a problem, you know, whether you are a resident or a citizen.
The immigration status issue is only pertinent for this reason, Camilo tried to use it as a defense to his desertion charge:
A second basis for reversal of Mejia’s conviction is the trial judge’s refusal to dismiss the prosecution because of an bilateral treaty between the U.S. and Costa Rican which bars either country from forcing the citizens of the other into “involuntary military service.” Since Mejia is a citizen of Costa Rica, he could not be kept involuntarily on active duty past his April 2003 discharge date (the “stop loss program”) under the terms of this treaty. International law expert, Prof Jules Lubel testified that GIs protected by these treaties have been set free by court rulings in the past.
While in the Florida National Guard, Camilo attended a community college, then transferred to University of Miami where he had a 2 month relationship with a woman that resulted in the birth of a daughter. On January 14, 2003, at a National Guard training assembly, his Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Hector Mirabile informed the troops they would be activated in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Anyway, that’s the basic background.
So, I have his book. And in a display of courage, of temerity, of tenacity, frankly, of balls the likes of which have been unseen since Brian Boitano saved us from the Evil Robot King, I made it exactly 68 pages in before collapsing in a sobbing heap of sweat and frustration. I challenge you to do the same!
Honestly, I may try to read more, but, in the words of Casey Kassim, it was ponderous man, f’n ponderous.
Anyway, book report will follow later. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Monday. I don’t know, but stay tuned for GOOD TIMES!
It’ll be Die-No-Mite!