Soldier gets 3 months in military prison for deserting unit on day before deployment

Monday, February 5th 2007, 6:26 pm
By: News On 6

FORT BLISS, Texas (AP) _ A soldier was found guilty Monday of deserting her Army unit on the eve of its deployment to the Middle East and was sentenced to three months in military prison.

A guilty plea by Spc. Melanie McPherson, a 28-year-old reservist from Tofte, Minn., to going absent without leave was superseded by a military judge's ruling on the more serious charge of desertion. McPherson told the judge she hitchhiked to Minnesota after leaving Fort Bliss the day before her unit was to leave for Kuwait, in July.

McPherson was also reduced in rank to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge after her prison term.

Trained as a military photojournalist, McPherson said she left because she was afraid she would eventually be deployed to Iraq as a truck driver or military police officer. She said she feared that if she were sent to war as anything other than a photojournalist, she would endanger herself and those around her.

McPherson also pleaded guilty to missing her deployment.