Kyle Snyder, 23, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was supposed to return to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., by bus from Louisville but didn’t go. Snyder told The Associated Press that he went absent without leave on Tuesday after being dropped off at the Greyhound Bus station in downtown Louisville.
“I realized this deal was going to go bad,” Snyder said Wednesday evening.
Snyder, a former combat engineer, left the United States in April 2005 while on leave to avoid a second deployment to Iraq. Snyder returned to the United States on Saturday, saying he reached a deal to receive an other-than-honourable discharge.
Snyder’s lawyer, James Fennerty of Chicago, said a deal had been reached for Snyder to surrender, then be discharged within a few days.
Shortly after surrendering Tuesday afternoon, Fort Knox officials said Snyder’s unit, the 94th Engineer Battalion, was stateside, so he would be returned there and his commanders would determine his future, Snyder said.
“I came back in good faith,” Snyder said. “I put my trust in them one more time. Why should I put my trust in them again when I can just go back to Canada?”
Fennerty, who negotiated the discharge of another war deserter earlier this month, said he received a phone call from Snyder, saying the military planned to return him to his unit.
Fennerty said the deal reached with the army would have spared Snyder a court martial.
Fennerty said he spent much of Wednesday trying to reach someone at Fort Leonard Wood to determine Snyder’s status.
“I’ve been on the phone all day,” Fennerty said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
Calls to Fort Leonard Wood spokesman Mike Alley were not immediately returned Wednesday evening.
Gini Sinclair, a Fort Knox spokeswoman, could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening. Previously, Sinclair said deserters whose units are deployed overseas are generally brought back to Fort Knox or Fort Sill, Okla., and assigned to a special processing company. The army then opens an investigation into the desertion.
She said deserters whose units are not fully deployed are returned to their original unit.
Snyder was with Gerry Condon, an antiwar activist who refused to fight in Vietnam. They did not disclose their location. Condon said he hopes the deal fell through because of miscommunication within the military.
“Perhaps the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” Condon said. “Because of either ineptitude or bad faith, he’s back on AWL status.”
Snyder said he began to turn against the war when he saw an innocent Iraqi man seriously wounded by American gunfire. He said the shooting was not properly investigated.
Snyder is the second Iraq war veteran to return to Kentucky after fleeing to Canada.
Darrell Anderson, 24, of Lexington, surrendered at Fort Knox on Oct. 3. Anderson was held for three days while his case was processed, then released with an other-than-honourable discharge. Fennerty was Anderson’s lawyer.
Snyder fled to Canada in April 2005 while on leave from the army and applied for refugee status. He said he worked as a welder and at a children’s health clinic while there but was also outspoken about the war, calling it “illegal and immoral.”