An officer who formerly served as the Army Public Health Center’s headquarters company commander was convicted by a special court-martial Friday of two specifications of violating lawful orders to comply with COVID-19 mitigation measures at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
1st Lt. Mark Bashaw was found guilty of refusing an order to telework and reporting to his office without submitting to a COVID-19 test or otherwise furnishing a negative test result, according to installation spokesperson Amburr Reese. Those mitigation measures were required of unvaccinated troops at Aberdeen.
Bashaw, a former Air Force NCO and father of three, was also found guilty of failing to wear a mask indoors. The trial concluded 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 opted not to punish him. However, the conviction gives Bashaw a criminal record that may impede future employment opportunities.
“After a careful consideration of the evidence, a military judge exercised lawful authority not to adjudge punishment for 1st Lt. Mark Bashaw,” Reese said in a statement to Army Times. “Receiving no punishment at a court-martial is not without precedent.
“While the Army does not categorize court-martial convictions as felonies or misdemeanors, many civilian jurisdictions treat a conviction in special court-martial convened by military judge alone, which this one was, as a misdemeanor,” Reese added.
Col. Yevgeny Vindman, the top lawyer for Army Communications-Electronics Command, which oversees Aberdeen Proving Ground, tweeted that he was “proud” of the “first in the nation conviction.”
Other troops have faced discipline for failing to observe COVID mitigation protocols, but Bashaw faced the first known court-martial.
It’s not clear whether Bashaw will remain in the Army after the conviction, and Reese did not answer a question from Army Times on the officer’s future. It’s also unclear whether Bashaw has received the vaccine since the incident that led to his court-martial.
The service has kicked out 426 active duty troops for refusing to receive the mandated COVID-19 vaccine, and 3,381 have received official reprimands. Roughly 5,000 exemption requests await adjudication.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.