Marine in Japan who refused COVID-19 vaccine faces unrelated insubordination charge
Stars and Stripes March 9, 2023
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – A Marine lance corporal who refused the COVID-19 vaccine last year and was jailed in January on separate charges is headed for a court-martial for insubordination and other alleged offenses.
Lance Cpl. Catherine Arnett, 24, of Fort Worth, Texas, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday for alleged violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
These include articles 86, failure to go to an appointed place of duty; 87, missing an official flight or ship movement; 87b, offenses against correctional custody and restriction; 90, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer; and 91, insubordinate conduct, according to the Navy and Marine Corps court-martial docket website.
Arnett’s charges were referred to a special court-martial on Feb. 8, but her arraignment Monday was delayed until next week, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Maj. Rob Martins, told Stars and Stripes by email Wednesday.
Arnett in July said she was an aviation supply specialist stationed at MCAS Iwakuni since May 2019. Since January, she has been in the brig at the Marines’ Camp Hansen on Okinawa, according to Martins.
Wing commander Maj. Gen. Eric Austin ordered Arnett discharged on Jan. 9 based on allegations that she committed forgery and made false official statements, violations of UCMJ articles 105 and 107, respectively, Martins said Jan. 24.
Martins’ email Wednesday did not detail those allegations against Arnett or why the two articles were dropped.
Military police arrested Arnett after she refused to board a U.S.-bound flight on Jan. 21.
In September, the Marine Corps dismissed two counts against Arnett of missing troop movements and one of disobeying a direct order after a federal judge in August temporarily barred the Corps from punishing or discharging Marines who refused the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds.
In that case, she twice refused to board flights in May to the U.S. to be discharged after refusing the vaccine.
Arnett has said she regards the August 2021 vaccine mandate, now repealed, as an unlawful order. The Marines never charged Arnett with refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Arnett has said she refused the COVID-19 vaccines because they are tested or produced using stem cell lines that descend from fetuses aborted in the 1970s and ’80s. She said the Marines denied her requests as a Catholic for a religious exemption.
“The Marine Corps continues to ensure that accountability is served through a fair and impartial process,” Martins said.