HYANNIS, Mass. – A North Carolina Army sergeant critical of the war in Iraq could face military charges for telling a story to local high school students about a war experience that his superiors concluded never happened.
Sgt. Dennis Edwards (search) described killing a 10-year-old boy in Iraq who had approached a U.S. base pretending to have a wounded leg, according to newspaper accounts of comments Edwards made last month at Dennis-Yarmouth High School (search).
He said the boy then pulled out an AK-47 rifle and began shooting. After he and two other soldiers shot and killed the boy, Edwards said, they found explosives strapped to his body.
Edwards told the story during a question-and-answer session before about 95 students, and elaborated during subsequent interviews with the Cape Cod Times, the newspaper reported Thursday. His comments were included in a Times story about the talk published Nov. 24.
Edwards' superiors learned of the comments from the Times' story, said Maj. Amy Hannah, a spokeswoman for Edwards' division, the 82nd Airborne (search) at Fort Bragg, N.C. An investigation found no evidence that the incident occurred, she said.
"His chain of command has determined that he made some false statements," Hannah told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Edwards admitted to superiors during the investigation that the account was untrue, Hannah said.
Edwards, a 23-year-old Barnstable High School alumnus, could not immediately be reached for comment. The AP left a message Thursday on a phone listed to Edwards' name in Spring Lake, N.C., near Fort Bragg.
The Times said Edwards had spoken with a reporter several times after his school talk but had not communicated with the newspaper since Saturday. And he did not return a message left at his home Wednesday or respond to the Times' interview requests this week.
His military lawyer advised him not to talk to reporters, according to his family. His mother, Edna Marceline of West Yarmouth, said Wednesday that he had not spoken with her yet about the Army's statement that he fabricated the story.
"All I know is my son's never lied before," she said. "So I don't know why he would start lying now."
During the school talk, Edwards also criticized U.S. policy in Iraq and said his country went to war because of President Bush's "personal vendetta," the Times said.
After superiors learned of those remarks, they counseled Edwards about what soldiers can and cannot say in public in accordance with military conduct rules, Hannah said.
She said commanders would decide whether to charge Edwards under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which could lead to administrative, nonjudicial or judicial penalties.
"At this point, it's the commander's option based on the investigation," Hannah said.
Edwards remained on active duty Thursday assigned to Fort Bragg, she said.
He returned to the United States in March after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was on leave visiting family when he spoke to students at the invitation of a teacher.