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AWOL Iraq Vet Surrenders To Army

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."

Anderson, of Lexington, returned to the United States from Canada on Saturday. He could face a charge of desertion.

Attorney Jim Fennerty of Chicago said Anderson will be interviewed by military investigators, given a uniform and assigned to a barracks while his case is processed. In three to five days, he will be given a discharge of other than honorable. At that point, he should be free from his military commitment and face no other charges, Fennerty said.

"He's not a criminal," Fennerty said.

As Anderson left the news conference, World War II veteran Les Powers confronted him, and shouted: "They should have shot you."

Powers said Anderson abandoned his military commitment and should face a court martial, not receive a deal that lets him out of the Army.

"He's a deserter. He's a coward," Powers said after Anderson was gone. "He should be given a dishonorable discharge."

Gini Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Fort Knox, would not discuss Anderson specifically, but said officers review AWOL soldiers' cases before they are discharged.

"In some cases, you can be here only a few days," Sinclair said.

Anderson joined the Army in January 2003 and went to Iraq a year later with the 1st Armored Division. He was wounded and received a Purple Heart in 2004.

He fled to Canada in early 2005 after receiving orders to return for a second tour of duty in Iraq, becoming a highly visible war critic and spokesman for Canadian peace groups.

Anderson's mother, Anita Dennis, said the military failed in its responsibility to take care of her son after he returned from war.

"They treated his physical wounds, but they left his emotional wounds untreated," Dennis said through tears.

Anderson said he suffered from nightmares and was unable to get the treatment he needed by the time he was ordered to redeploy. He said he was able to get some treatment for emotional distress while in Canada.

Anderson's Canadian wife, Gail Greer, said she supports her husband's decision.

"I'm really anxious and nervous, but he's definitely doing the right thing," Greer said. "I just hope people listen to what he has to say."

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