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SEOUL — Geraldine Bromell said she received the Christmas present she’d prayed for since June: a Dec. 25 call from her son.

Before that day, she’d gone for almost half a year not knowing if her son, Army Sgt. Scottie Robinson, was alive or dead. She knew only that he’d been missing for months.

Robinson, a cook at the 2nd Infantry Division’s Camp Castle, was reported absent without leave from his unit on June 19. In mid-July, he was declared a deserter, his name was dropped from his unit’s records and his pay was stopped.

During a Monday phone call from Bolivia, N.C., Bromell said she’s still puzzled over what happened but is “thankful that he’s alive.”

Bromell said she was shocked when her son called on Christmas to tell her he was back at his camp, working again with his unit. So shocked, she said, that she didn’t ask him where he’s been.

Army officials confirmed Monday that Robinson is back with his unit pending results of an official investigation but wouldn’t comment on his whereabouts since June.

“Our policy is to not talk about specifics of an ongoing investigation,” said Maj. Brian Maka, 2ID spokesman.

Maka said Robinson turned himself in to legal officials on Dec. 28 — three days, his mother said, after he told her he was back with his unit.

Bromell said her 31-year-old son had a perfect Army career. He re-enlisted in February and was promoted to sergeant in April.

Military officials had told Stars and Stripes that Robinson, attached to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the division’s 2nd Engineer Brigade, faced no investigation at the time of his disappearance.

This was Robinson’s second tour in South Korea. He planned to travel to the United States in December to buy his sister a car to go to college, his mother said, and to visit his 9-year-old son.

Bromell traveled to South Korea in September to search for Robinson. She spent almost two weeks in the country, canvassing the streets, looking for her son’s face.

She said the Army was extremely helpful. They let her stay in base lodging at Camp Casey and provided her a driver.

“But after two weeks, I just got tired,” she said. “I’m 53 years old, and I was worn out.”

Bromell said when she told him on Christmas that she’d traveled to South Korea in vain to find him, he said, “Ma, I just didn’t know.”

“I think there were some things he didn’t want to talk about, so I didn’t push the issue,” his mother said. “He really didn’t sound himself on the phone. He sounded a little confused.”

Maka said Army AWOL and deserter cases are not rare. “We had 17 soldiers go AWOL from 2ID in July,” Maka said Monday. “That’s average.”

He said officials post photos of AWOL soldiers at the gates of every camp in South Korea.

A soldier who deserts can face anything from nonjudicial punishment to court-martial, according to Maka. The maximum court-martial punishment for absence without leave is reduction to E-1, dishonorable discharge, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a one-year confinement. The maximum punishment for a deserter is the same, with up to a two-year confinement.

Bromell said she’s not really concerned about her son’s whereabouts the past six months.

“I’m just happy that he’s back and that he’s safe,” she said.


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