A junior officer assigned to the Army Public Health Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, faces a special court-martial for failing to obey COVID-19 mitigation measures, Army Times has learned.
1st Lt. Mark Bashaw’s arraignment is “pending” on three specifications of “failure to obey lawful orders,” said Becca Nappi, a spokesperson for the installation.
Although other troops have faced discipline for failing to follow COVID-19 protocols, Bashaw is the first case in the Army referred to a court-martial for such incidents, Army spokeswoman Col. Cathy Wilkinson confirmed in a statement to Army Times.
Bashaw is the former headquarters company commander for the Army Public Health Center, which oversees occupational and environmental health initiatives for the service.
He’s charged with refusing an order to telework and showing up to Aberdeen Proving Ground “after failing to submit a negative COVID-19 test or [submit]” to a test, Nappi said. The installation requires that unvaccinated personnel submit a negative test result before entering their worksites, according to its website.
Bashaw also is charged with allegedly refusing to leave and “wrongfully remaining at his place of duty” after his failure to get tested, according to Nappi.
The officer is also charged with refusing to wear a mask while indoors, Nappi added. All Aberdeen Proving Ground troops are required to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
Army Times could not immediately locate Bashaw’s attorney.
The spokesperson stressed that Bashaw is “presumed innocent until proven guilty” and clarified that he isn’t facing court-martial “for refusing the order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but...[rather for violating] COVID-19 infection mitigation measures designed to protect the force.”
Troops who refuse the vaccine will soon face other repercussions, though.
The Army announced Wednesday that it is beginning involuntary discharge procedures for the approximately 3,500 active duty troops who have declined the vaccine. Another 3,600 currently have pending requests for medical or religious exemptions for the shot.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.