Purple-Heart Soldier Returns to U.S. After Fleeing to Canada to Avoid Iraq Tour

A decorated soldier who deserted from the U.S. Army to avoid a second tour of duty in Iraq has crossed back into the United States after fleeing to Canada almost two years ago.

Army Spc. Darrell Anderson, 24, of Lexington, crossed the U.S. border on Saturday and plans to turn himself in at Fort Knox on Tuesday.

Anderson said he is hoping for leniency from the Army but isn't taking anything for granted.

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"You never know what's going to happen until it happens," he told the Lexington Herald-Leader before starting for home. "I'm sort of hoping for the best but planning for the worst."

Anderson's lawyer, Jim Fennerty, said an officer at Fort Knox told him by phone last week that the Army has decided not to court-martial Anderson, and plans to release him within three to five days. Fennerty said the officer told him that a discharge would be mailed to Anderson within a few days after that.

Fort Knox public affairs officer Connie Schaffery said officers had been in touch with Anderson, his lawyer and his family to "explain the process." Schaffery said she "cannot speak about what's going to happen when he gets here until he gets here."

Anderson, who was wounded and received the Purple Heart while serving in Iraq in 2004 with the 1st Armored Division, fled to Canada in early 2005, hoping to avoid another tour in a war he no longer supported. 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. Unsure of his future in Canada, he decided to return to Kentucky and accept whatever punishment the Army imposes.