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Military officials in Europe are seeking a 34-year-old soldier from Schweinfurt, Germany, who went absent without leave earlier this month while his unit was deploying to Iraq.

Spc. Agustín Aguayo, a medic with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, was last seen by authorities on Sept. 2 when he turned himself into the local provost marshal’s office, according to a news release from his family. The California native was told to go home, grab his gear and return to his unit, whose members were boarding buses to catch a flight, the release said.

Instead, Aguayo, who applied for conscientious objector status more than two years ago, opted to go AWOL, said Meike Schubert, a spokeswoman for the family. She added that Aguayo had already served a year in Tikrit, Iraq, while his request for conscientious objector status was being considered. Aguayo returned from Iraq in February 2005.

Schubert said Aguayo continued to seek conscientious objector status even though his four-year enlistment with the Army is due to expire in January. Between deployment orders, the Army’s denial of his request and legal wrangling, Aguayo didn’t know what else to do, Schubert said.

The Aguayo family “played by all the rules,” she said.

An Army spokesman with the 1st Armored Division confirmed late Friday that Aguayo is AWOL.

“His unit needs him; his country needs him,” Maj. Wayne Marotto said. “We want him to return to his unit as soon as possible.”

Marotto added that the conscientious objector review process is continuing.

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