BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Robert Przybylski was a rising lieutenant when the Iraq war started, leading his airborne scout platoon through dangerous raids and at one point coming to the rescue of his injured battalion commander.

Now a captain, Przybylski was slated for another deployment to Iraq this spring as a company commander with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment in Baumholder.

But about three weeks ago something went wrong.

Today, Przybylski is the only officer in U.S. Army Europe to be listed absent without leave, a position he’s been in since Oct. 10. And in a matter of days he faces the prospect of being classified as a deserter, which takes effect after 30 consecutive days of unauthorized absence.

As authorities investigate the case, the circumstances surrounding Przybylski’s disappearance remain shrouded in mystery.

“The investigation into the whereabouts of Captain Przybylski remain under investigation by CID and the soldier’s command,” Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Chris Grey said in a prepared statement.

“CID is working closely with German authorities and is keeping the command updated concerning the case. At this point we have no indication that foul play was involved, but to ensure we conduct a complete and thorough investigation we have not totally ruled it out.”

Soon after Przybylski’s disappearance, CID placed a radio spot and television crawler on the American Forces Network, but the requests for the AWOL captain to report to his unit apparently had no effect. On Oct. 22, CID requested that the spots be pulled, according to AFN.

Przybylski, the son of an Army officer, spent part of his youth in Germany. His father, a retired lieutenant colonel, declined to comment this week on his son’s disappearance.

At the start of the Iraq war in 2003, Przybylski was a member of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy. The unit’s experiences in Iraq were chronicled in a report — “Red Devils: Tactical Perspectives from Iraq” — by then-battalion commander Lt. Col. Harry D. Tunnell. In one episode, Tunnell describes how he was shot through the leg during an ambush and how Przybylski and other soldiers responded during the Oct. 11 firefight.

“The battalion Scout Platoon — led by First Lieutenant Robert Przybylski — and other elements of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, observed the start of the ambush and without a second thought moved to the area. The Scout Platoon Sergeant — Sergeant First Class William Stanton — flanked the enemy with one element while Przybylski assaulted with the rest of the platoon through the kill zone, and successfully relieved their fellow paratroopers in contact,” Tunnell wrote.

The Army is asking that anyone with information on Przybylski contact the local CID office or the military police, or send it to “Report a Crime” on CID’s Web site,

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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