Navajo Marine Granted Conscientious Objector Status

Flagstaff, AZ – Ronnie Tallman filed for conscientious objector status, or CO status, about a year ago. While on a trip home to the reservation, he discovered he's a hand trembler, a kind of medicine man who can diagnose afflictions and often restore well being. But according to Navajo belief, Tallman would lose the gift if he killed someone.

Tallman's application for CO status was approved by the investigating officer at his post in Twentynine Palms, California, as well as several of his superiors. But earlier this month, James Conway, the Marine Commandant in Washington, denied it. He wrote that Tallman failed to provide convincing evidence that his objections to war were deeply held.

Tallman's attorney, Steve Boos, petitioned that decision to federal court.

The big part of the problem is the way this system works, where the ultimate decision is made by people in DC who've never had a chance to talk to Ronnie and make a first hand assessment of the quality of his beliefs and how they impact him on a day to day basis.

Late Wednesday, without comment, the Marine Commandant reversed his decision. Tallman will be honorably discharged within the next three weeks.

For Arizona Public Radio, I'm Daniel Kraker