Marine who was discharged, court martialed for refusing COVID-19 vaccine arrested for attempting to return to her base in Japan

Former Marine Catherine Arnett, who spent 113 days in the brig and was eventually discharged for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine in 2022, was arrested earlier this month for attempting to return to her duty station in Japan, according to Stars and Stripes.

Arnett’s case became a cause célèbre when she refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine in 2022, citing religious objections to the fact that the vaccine was developed using research that involved fetal tissue cells. Arnett’s request for a religious exemption was denied. The Marine Corps notified Arnett that she faced administrative separation due to this decision, but Arnett twice refused to board a flight to the United States, or indeed to even leave the base, which led to her being court martialed.

This set in motion a chain of events that led to multiple set trial dates and unsuccesful attempts to discharge Arnett. Finally, in June, the Corps informed Arnett that charges against her were being dropped without prejudice, and that she would be administratively discharged. At the time, Marine Maj. Rob Martins, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing told Task and Purpose, “This decision was made judiciously while balancing what was best for Lance Cpl. Arnett and the United States Marine Corps.”

The vaccine mandate was ultimately rescinded on January 10, 2023 by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Arnett, meanwhile, apparently did not agree that her separation from the Marine Corps was best for her. According to Stars and Stripes, Arnett was detained on December 1st while attempting to enter MCAS Iwakuni around 2:30am. She was detained and turned over to local police later that day, who finally released her “last week.” Arnett did not respond directly to Stars and Stripes in a request for comment, but someone purporting to be her secretary claimed that Arnett was re-entering the base as an act of civil disobedience. “Ms. Arnett was solely standing on the principle that since the mandate was unconstitutional from the jump, all other actions that transpired as a result were also unlawful orders. She arrived at the base to take the stand and drive home the concept that she refused to take her DD214 and still refuses to comply with any separation orders.”

According to Stars and Stripes, Japanese prosecutors have not yet made a decision on whether to charge Arnett with a crime for entering the base without permission.

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