Instead of fighting for his country in Iraq, a Charlotte County teenager is in jail accused of deserting the military during basic training. He said it was a risk he was willing to take to avoid the horrors of war.
Lawrence Henson says he walked away from basic training in Fort Banning, Georgia back in 2007.
“If you’re voluntarily signing up for something, then you should be able to voluntarily leave,” Henson said. “I mean if it’s a draft I understand, but I volunteered.”
Unfortunately for Henson, the U.S. Army doesn’t see it that way.
During a weekend traffic stop of his friend, Charlotte deputies arrested Henson on an outstanding Army desertion warrant. He’s being held at Charlotte County Jail awaiting the Army’s next move.
Henson spoke Monday about his situation. He says he left the Army because “it wasn’t for me,” and says he’s opposed to the war in Iraq.
“I had my station in Texas and then I was going to Iraq within a month,” Henson said. “Me, I don’t even think we should be there, not in a war, and I don’t care, and I wasn’t down with shooting innocent people. I’m just not like that. I won’t shoot people.”
Henson says he’s been working a tree-trimming job while trying to stay out of trouble, something he says originally lured him to the promise of a better future in the service.
“Because I was getting into so much trouble around here, fighting, hanging around with the wrong crowd. They waved $20,000 in front of my face, and I’m a minor. I took that.”
This is the second time Henson says he’s been behind bars with the desertion charge. The first time was about a year ago in Gainesville.
“They released me pretty much on my own terms to make it to the airport without directions anywhere to stay overnight, and I missed that and just came home,” Henson said.
Despite his second time in jail, Henson says he isn’t ready to apologize for his decision to walk away.
“I don’t want to go back in so I’m not going,” Henson said. “I won’t go to Iraq. They can dishonorably discharge me all they want.”