Purple Heart winner flees to Canada

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) —Rather than face another tour of duty in Iraq, a Lexington soldier who won a Purple Heart after he was wounded by a roadside bomb has fled to Canada. Darrell Anderson, 22, wounded last April, was deeply disillusioned about the war, according to his mother, Anita Anderson. The possibility of another tour in Iraq this summer was something he couldn’t face, she said.

When Anderson’s holiday leave in Lexington ended three weeks ago, he didn’t return to his Army unit in Germany. Instead, he fled to Canada, where he is hoping the Canadian government will provide refuge for him and a small number of U.S. military deserters who want to avoid the war.

“I started to think ... what’s it really for? I was willing to die for my country. I thought I was going over there to defend my country. But that’s not what I was doing,” Anderson said by telephone, Jan. 31, from Toronto. Anderson joined the Army in January 2003. He went to Iraq a year later with the 1st Armored Division.

Over the next seven months, mostly in Baghdad, he was in the thick of the fight against insurgents.

An incident last April apparently changed his views concerning the fighting.

Anderson was with a group of soldiers helping to defend an Iraqi police station that was under fire. Suddenly, a car swerved into the area, refusing to stop.

Soldiers are expected to open fire when that happens in a place where any stranger is a potential enemy. But Anderson never pulled the trigger of his M-16.

“This car kept coming, and the other guys were yelling, ‘Why don’t you shoot, why don’t you shoot?’ But I felt the car posed no threat,” he said.

“Then the window of the car rolled down, and it was just an Iraqi family.

“I said, ‘Look, it’s just innocent people.’ But they kept telling me, ‘The next time, you open fire. We don’t care.’”

Anderson was wounded by a roadside bomb a few days later and received the Purple Heart.

But he said the incident at the police station convinced him that the war is wrong.

He said he felt he was being forced to possibly gun down innocent Iraqis.

“Innocent people are being killed every day. It’s a war about money — to keep money in rich people’s pockets,” Anderson said.

“There is no way I can believe in that. I still believe in my country, but I can no longer be a part of the Army or that war.”