NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A soldier who is again absent without leave said his lawyer has repeatedly tried to speak with the Army about his status but the military is ignoring the subject.

Pvt. Kyle Snyder, 23, a former combat engineer, went AWOL from his Army unit after failing to report to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., on Nov. 1 – a day after turning himself in after an 18-month AWOL stint. He had fled to Canada in April 2005 while on leave to avoid a second tour in Iraq.

“Legally, I’m AWOL again,” Snyder said Friday. “My lawyer has tried to contact Fort Leonard Wood like 75 times – it’s documented, 75 times – and tried to get in touch with the military. They’ve avoided this entire subject.”

Snyder was among two dozen volunteers from Iraq Veterans Against the War spending the week in New Orleans, gutting houses belonging to veterans and musicians that were flooded more than a year ago by Hurricane Katrina.

Snyder has said he was put on patrol when sent to Iraq in 2004, which he said he was not trained to do, and that he began to turn against the war when he saw an innocent Iraqi man killed by American gunfire.

Snyder turned himself in on Oct. 31, after his lawyer said he had reached a deal to have Snyder processed back into the Army at Fort Knox in Kentucky and be discharged without a court-martial. However, he went AWOL again a day later. Attorney James Fennerty said the Army wanted to send Snyder back to his original unit at Fort Leonard Wood, where commanders would determine his future.

Mike Alley, a public affairs officer at Fort Leonard Wood, said Snyder never arrived at the post. He directed calls to the public affairs office at Fort Knox, where nobody answered the phone Friday.

Snyder said the military doesn’t chase down people who are absent without leave. “I’m not a rapist, not a murderer, not a child molester. I’m not doing anything negative,” he said. “I’m doing what I feel I have to do as a human being.”

The 300-member Iraq Veterans Against the War has been arranging for groups to spend two weeks each helping to gut houses from June through August, executive director Kelly Dougherty said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.