The next morning we all headed back to Leesville. Having fallen asleep in the car, I don’t remember the ride.
Once we arrived, we drove to Jane’s house to drop her off. I changed back into my jail clothes and Thundercloud took me back to VPSO. Jane’s house was just two streets over from the jail so it did not take long.
He took me in and turned me back over to the Sheriffs and said he would see me at my Court-Martial.
When I walked back into the block of cells, I noticed something strange. Several inmates were wearing t-shirts and socks that looked a lot like the ones the Army issued.
When I got to my cell I realized that all of my clothes were gone. They were wearing all my stuff!
The inmate who was sharing a cell with me said that when I left the day before, everyone thought I was gone for good. So they went through my Army laundry bag and divied up some of my stuff.
Being able to get most of my stuff back was a challenge but luckily most everyone just handed it over.
The guards took me to another area of the jail where all of the military prisoners were being kept. Some one had moved on and there was a vacant cell. This one was a little different.
It did not have a common area or a hall connecting multiple cells together. It was a two man cell with a metal wall with a door, two more metal walls on the sides, and bars at the back.
It had the two metal bunks, a toilet, and a shower. Through the bars at the back, was the walk way that wrapped around the whole jail.
On the other side of the bars sat a tv. The only way to watch it was to pay a fee for cable costs. I did not have any money and so I did not pay for cable.
Over the next couple days I settled in and started writing letters. Mostly just wondering how my family was doing back in Germany.
My brother Darren, was serving in the Air Force and was stationed in Germany at another base and my sister Dana and youngest brother Daniel were still at home with my parents.
Article 15 UCMJ
Because I ran away the second time, I was going to receive an Article 15. This is a non-judiciary punishment that defines what happened and what the recourse would be without having to go to court or talk to a judge.
Someone from my unit brought up the paperwork for me to sign. I was reduced in rank from an E-3 to an E-2 and I had to forfeit one week’s pay (must be standard because I wasn’t getting paid).
I also had to meet with my lawyer, CPT Jokinen. His concern was that the desertion charge carried more time than AWOL.
I needed to convince the judge that I had intended to return at some point during the time that I was gone. Being gone so long, changing my appearance and then running away again did not help the situation.
Besides that issue, he told me that due to the charges that had been filed against me he felt that I realistically would be serving about four years.
That did not sound good but it was better than what I was told before.
I had about two weeks before the Court-Martial and I was told I needed to write what I would say to the judge before sentencing.
In the walk way behind the bars there was a little rectangular window at the top of the wall. I stood up on the bottom of the bars and looked out to see the view.
To my amazement, just two streets over I could see Jane’s house. To my despair, sitting right across the street from her house was my car.