I have never been in the military. But, my understanding is, you can't disobey an order or you can be court martialed.
It is the duty of every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, and coast guardsman to obey the lawful orders of their superiors. Failure to obey a lawful order is a violation of one of several articles (article 90, article 92) of the Uniformed Code of Military Justince, and may result in a court martial.
If the Marines had refused to code red the dead marine, wouldn't they be in serious trouble?
No. They key word in the law is the word "lawful". We have an obligation to follow all lawful orders. However, there is no such obligation to follow an illegal order. And depending on what the order is, it would be your duty to disobey that order. Otherwise you could be held legally accountable for the commission of a crime. In military law, there is something known as the "Nuremberg defense", which is a case in which a soldier claims to be innocent of a crime because "he was only following orders". This defense NEVER works because it ignores the law, which specifically states that there is no obligation to obey an illegal order. The order that Kendrick gave Dawson was illegal. Code red's were illegal, thus LT Kendrick had no legal authority to order one. You cannot order someone else to commit a crime! Consequently, the correct course of action would have been for Dawson to ignore the order, then to submit a complaint to Inspector General if he had received any reprisal for disobeying an illegal order. Then Kendrick (and eventually Jessup) would be in legal trouble, while Dawson would be exonerated.
At the end, one marine says, "They were suppose to protect Willie (the dead marine)". How could they do that without disobeying an order?
They couldn't. That's why they had to disobey the order. It was fear of reprisal which compelled Dawson to follow Kendrick's order. So he failed to protect Santiago because he was more concerned about protecting himself. That's not what being a marine is about. A marine's job is to risk their own lives to protect the innocent, not vice versa.
This artist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMPvcgejKpw
Okay thanks captain bryce.
Not true at all.
Dawson carried out the order because he believed it was the right thing to do. As for avoiding prosecution, “I’ll accept whatever punishment they see fit” was his answer.