Army officer convicted in first known COVID court-martial
An officer who previously served as company commander of the Army Public Health Center Headquarters was found guilty by a special court martial on Friday of two specifications of breaching lawful orders to comply with COVID-19 mitigation measures. 19 at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
1st Lt. Mark Bashaw was found guilty of refusing a telework order and showing up to his office without submitting to a COVID-19 test or otherwise providing a negative test result, the spokesperson says of the Amburr Reese facility. These mitigation measures were required of unvaccinated troops in Aberdeen.
Bashaw, a former Air Force noncommissioned officer and father of three, was also found guilty of failing to wear a mask indoors. The trial ended on Friday. His listed attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via social media.
The military judge who oversaw Bashaw’s trial chose not to punish him. However, the conviction gives Bashaw a criminal record that could hamper future job opportunities.
“After careful consideration of the evidence, a military judge exercised the legitimate authority not to impose a sentence on 1st Lt. Mark Bashaw,” Reese said in a statement to the Army Times. “Receiving no sanction at court martial is not without precedent.
“While the military does not classify court-martial convictions as felonies or misdemeanors, many civilian jurisdictions treat a special court-martial conviction convened by a military judge alone, which was this, as a misdemeanor” , added Reese.
Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, the top lawyer at the Army Communications-Electronics Command, which oversees Aberdeen Proving Ground, tweeted that he was “proud” of the “nation’s first condemnation”.
Other troops were disciplined for failing to observe COVID mitigation protocols, but Bashaw faced the first known court martial.
It is unclear whether Bashaw will remain in the military after his sentencing, and Reese did not respond to a question from the Army Times about the officer’s future. It is also unclear if Bashaw has received the vaccine since the incident that led to his court-martial.
The service expelled 426 active duty soldiers for refusing to receive the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, and 3,381 received official reprimands. Approximately 5,000 exemption requests await a decision.
Davis Winkie is a staff reporter covering the military. He originally joined Military Times as a reporting intern in 2020. Prior to journalism, Davis worked as a military historian. He is also a human resources officer in the Army National Guard.