Texas — A soldier who admitted fleeing from the Army rather than deploying to Iraq for a second time was sentenced Thursday to seven months in a military prison and given a bad conduct discharge.
Spc. Mark Wilkerson, who pleaded guilty to desertion and missing troop movement earlier Thursday as part of a plea deal, faced a maximum sentence of 10 months.
Wilkerson, 23, surrendered at Fort Hood in August - about a year and a half after failing to return from an approved two-week leave. He said he was tired of running and wanted to move forward with his life.
Wilkerson said he decided to go AWOL because his conscientious objector status was denied a month before his unit was to return to Iraq in early 2005. Wilkerson, who was 17 when he enlisted, has said his views on the war changed after he served in Iraq for a year beginning at the start of the March 2003 invasion.