AWOL Purple Heart Recipient Turns Himself In

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War Deserter turns Himself in After 2 Years AWOL

An Army soldier who fled to Canada rather than redeploy to Iraq surrendered Tuesday to military officials after asking for leniency.

Spc. Darrell Anderson, 24, said he deserted the Army last year because he could no longer fight in what he believes is an illegal war.

“I feel that by resisting I made up for the things I did in Iraq,” Anderson said during a press briefing shortly before he turned himself in at nearby Fort Knox. “I feel I made up for the sins I committed in this war.”

Lexington’s Darrell Anderson said he is no coward and called the war in Iraq illegal and immoral just minutes before turning himself into the Army, which he deserted almost two years ago.

After speaking to the media, Anderson left Colvin Community Center to drive to Fort Knox and face whatever punishment the Army imposes…

     

But Anderson’s attorney, Jim Fennerty, again said he has been told by the Army that Anderson will not be court-martialed and will be released within three to five days.

He said Anderson then would be mailed an other- than-honorable discharge.

Anderson arrived here accompanied by his wife, Gail Greer; his mother, Anita Anderson; and his stepfather, Steve Dennis. Darrell Anderson left Canada, where he’d been staying to avoid returning to Iraq, for the United States on Sunday.

As Anderson entered the community center today, he drew applause from a few representatives of peace groups, including Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

One woman shouted Thank you, Darrell thank you.

Among those speaking in support of Anderson was Lexington’s Don Pratt, who went to jail for refusing to serve in the Army during Vietnam. But as Anderson left the news conference, he was confronted by Les Powers, 83, a retired Army sergeant major who lives in Radcliff.

They should have shot you, Powers shouted at Anderson’s vehicle.

Anderson replied by giving Powers the peace sign.

Powers, a World War II veteran, said the Army should court-martial Anderson and give him a dishonorable discharge.

He’s a deserter; he’s a coward, Powers declared.

Powers said he thinks the war in Iraq is necessary but that America should get out as soon as we can.

Anderson, who joined the Army in January 2003, said he initially went to Iraq anxious to serve his country and willing to die in combat.

But he said he became disillusioned after seeing innocent Iraqis killed, which led him to believe that the war was wrong.

This is not what I raised my right hand for, he said.

Anderson who was wounded and received the Purple Heart while serving in Iraq in 2004, fled to Canada in early 2005. He has been living in the Toronto area, becoming a highly visible war critic and spokesman for Canadian peace groups.

But when Anderson’s application for Canadian refugee status was filed too late, he could not get a government work permit and was unable to work. Unsure of his future in Canada, he decided a few weeks ago to return to Kentucky and accept whatever punishment the Army imposes.

Anderson said if he is released, he simply wants to lead a normal life for a while. But he will remain an activist against the war if he is needed.

Members of Anderson’s family asked that the media not accompany Anderson to Fort Knox today at the request of the Army.

Fort Knox spokeswoman Gini Sinclair said last week that when Anderson turns himself in, he will be assigned to a special processing company for AWOL soldiers. She said the commander of that unit, a captain, would review Anderson’s case and make a recommendation to the fort’s garrison commander, a colonel, who would make the final decision.

According to Sinclair, processing such cases usually takes a few weeks, and most soldiers get less-than-honorable discharges. But some get more serious punishment, she said.

 

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