Soldier who was captured will leave the Army

Tuesday, September 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.– One of three U.S. soldiers captured during NATO's military campaign against Yugoslavia says he's leaving the Army.

Staff Sgt. Andrew A. Ramirez, who has spent eight years in the Army, said he wants to remain with the military, possibly as a recruiter for the National Guard, but he expects to leave the Army in a few weeks.

Sgt. Ramirez, Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Stone and Spc. Steven Gonzales were captured by Yugoslav forces on March 31, 1999, while on a reconnaissance mission near the Kosovo and Macedonia border.

They spent 32 days in captivity before the Rev. Jesse Jackson negotiated their release May 2, seven weeks before the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia ended.

Sgt. Stone and Spc. Gonzales have both left the Army.

Sgt. Ramirez, a 26-year-old Los Angeles native, spoke to the local chapter of the Association of the United States Army over the weekend and described the ordeal.

"At first I really didn't think it changed me much, but now I think I don't take things for granted," he said.