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Lebanon man turned over to Army
Aug 09, 2004 12:00 am
A local man jailed as a possible Army deserter was returned to Fort Campbell, Ky., on Thursday to face charges he has been absence without leave since January 2002.
Wilson County Sheriff's Department officers met military police near Clarksville yesterday to turn over Michael Wayne Alford, 24, a City of Lebanon wastewater treatment plant employee who came to the attention of local authorities when he was arrested on a bad check charge.
Though Alford protested his innocence military officials asked he be held without bond as a possible deserter. Military police in Fort Campbell earlier this week refused to discuss the case, referring questions about the prisoner to the Pentagon.
Sheriff Terry Ashe said military police faxed records to his department Thursday indicating Alford has been AWOL since January 2002.
Though it did not identify his attachment, the military information noted Alford was reported AWOL shortly after the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne was deployed to the Middle East.
Some local authorities initially expressed hesitance about continuing to hold Alford for military police. Described as a cooperative prisoner, he was said to strongly protest the deserter accusation, claiming to have fulfilled his military obligation.
Ashe said by the time officers left to turn Alford over to MP's, he became convinced the one-time soldier is a deserter.
"First of all, you can bet somebody would have filed a writ to get him out of jail if he'd really fulfilled his obligations," Ashe said. "And as the hours passed and that didn't happen, and we didn't hear from any outraged relatives, I started to suspect it was probably true, that he probably is a deserter."
Ashe, a decorated Vietnam veteran wounded twice in Southeast Asia, admitted to some degree of personal emotion in dealing with the case.
"Since you asked, to be real honest, no I don't feel good about somebody who dodges their service to their country," Ashe said. "I had to leave blood, bone, flesh and muscle on foreign soil in an unpopular war, and I had to watch a lot of other people do the same. Now here we are at war again, and this boy is no better than all the other young men and women doing their part over there right at this very minute. So to answer your question, no I didn't feel real good about him."
Ashe said military police were reluctant to share details about Alford with his office and agreed to take custody of the prisoner Thursday "only after we threatened them."
"We pretty much told the Fort Campbell people if they didn't come and get him we were going to let him go," Ashe said. "They said they didn't have many MPs on duty, and we agreed to take him up near Clarksville, and they were going to meet our officers there and take him on back to Fort Campbell."
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.