Family of jailed soldier surprised by transfer to Oklahoma
April 15, 2005
The family of a soldier imprisoned after refusing to work claiming he was a conscientious objector was surprised this week by news that he was transferred from a prison in Germany to one in Oklahoma.
Former Army Spc. Blake Lemoine, 23, was given a bad-conduct discharge and seven-month prison term last month after being convicted of willfully disobeying orders he received while working in supply for the 596th Maintenance Company in Darmstadt, Germany. He was transferred from a military prison in Mannheim, Germany, to one in Fort Sill, Okla., on Monday, according to an Army spokesman.
“Shock,” was the way Lemoine’s wife described hearing the news from Lemoine’s mother.
“I had no clue. No one had told me anything,” the wife, Alayna Lemoine, said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Alayna Lemoine said Army officials had told her that her husband would serve his full prison term in Germany.
She speculated that the Army moved her husband because of a protest Sunday she and about 40 others held outside the U.S. Army Confinement Facility-Europe on Coleman Barracks in Mannheim.
Some groups in Germany support Lemoine and his efforts to get conscientious objector status. Lemoine asked for the status, saying his religious beliefs as a pagan priest conflicted with things he witnessed while deployed in Iraq for a year.
Sunday’s protest remained peaceful and resulted in no arrests.
An Army spokesman said the protest was probably not a factor in Lemoine’s move. The prison in Mannheim is a temporary holding facility, and prisoners there are routinely flown to more permanent prisons in the United States, said Master Sgt. Derrick Crawford, a spokesman for the 21st Theater Support Command, which oversees the prison.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with the protest,” Crawford said.
The move also upset friends of Blake Lemoine who had been trying to visit him, Alayna Lemoine said.
“They wanted to see him,” Alayna Lemoine said. “Not everybody in Blake’s unit hates him.”
Blake Lemoine’s mother, Brenda Lemoine, was the first in his family to find out about the move when he called her on Tuesday from Oklahoma, she said in a telephone interview from her home in Louisiana.
She was also surprised by the move, she said, because Army officials told her that her son would remain in Germany for his entire prison term.