AWOL Soldier Plans to Return From Canada

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The Associated Press
Saturday, September 23, 2006; 4:41 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A soldier who fled to Canada two years ago after serving in Iraq said he would return home to face consequences from the U.S. Army.

"I decided that I've got to go back and get this over with once and for all, instead of living in limbo up here forever," Darrell Anderson told the Lexington-Herald Leader for Saturday's edition from Toronto.

Anderson, 24, served seven months in Iraq with the 1st Armored Division. He received a Purple Heart after being wounded by a roadside bomb. But he said he quickly became disillusioned with the war.

Anderson, who arrived in Canada by way of Niagara Falls in January 2005, had hoped to build a new life north of the border. But his Canadian attorney missed a deadline for filing paperwork to have him declared a refugee, which would have allowed him to remain in the country.

He said that not only meant he could not qualify for a government work permit _ which he had to have to get a job _ it also opened the possibility that Canadian authorities might deport him, even though he had married a Canadian woman.

He said he's been scraping along, working odd jobs, relying on the generosity of Canadian friends and help from his family in the United States.

This summer, Anderson was among a group of American military deserters visited by "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan, who was in Canada to support sanctuary for those fleeing the U.S. military.

Now, Anderson said he is planning to turn himself in to a special processing unit at Fort Knox for soldiers absent without leave and accept whatever punishment he's given.

"I just decided that I've got to face my demons, put on my uniform, and go back and tell the Army that I don't want to participate in this war," he said. "I feel like I have to tell them face-to-face; I have to make my stand once and for all."

After reviewing Anderson's record, the commander could order a less-than-honorable discharge or refer the case to a court-martial, which could impose a prison term and a dishonorable discharge, said Fort Knox spokeswoman Gini Sinclair.


© 2006 The Associated Press

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