Ramstein airman ruled a deserter found in Georgia
January 22, 2006
A Ramstein, Germany-based airman who was missing and had been ruled a deserter was found Friday night in Valdosta, Ga., near Moody Air Force Base.
Airman 1st Class Edward Hunter was found outside a Laundromat, sitting in a car that had been reported stolen, according to Capt. Jennifer Lovett, a spokeswoman for Ramstein Air Base.
A spokeswoman for the Lowndes County Jail in Valdosta said that Hunter was being held there without charges until he could be turned over to Moody’s Office of Special Investigations.
Hunter was found after an airman at Moody, who had heard about a Friday story in Stars and Stripes, told a fellow airman at Ramstein that Hunter was in Georgia, Lovett said. Valdosta police were called and followed leads that led them to Hunter.
Hunter’s wife and four children were forced to vacate their housing at Sembach Annex because of his deserter status. Hunter, who worked in the supply department for the 435th Logistics Readiness Squadron, had been missing since Jan. 6.
The Air Force paid for the family to fly to Nashville and live with a relative, but their military benefits were revoked.
Lovett said the Air Force had the address of a sister-in-law in Tennessee and was attempting to contact the family.
“As soon as he comes into Air Force custody [in Germany], his spouse will be able to apply for limited benefits,” Lovett said. “Right now, the only one we know for sure is medical benefits. We’re trying to get together with personnel to see what else she can get.”
Upon his return to Germany, Hunter has been ordered by Lt. Col. Richard Moon, the squadron commander, to be confined on charges of desertion and being absent without leave.
The Air Force declared Hunter a deserter after he didn’t return from leave in the U.S. over the holidays. The 13-year veteran had received orders in November to be discharged from the Air Force, but Dawn Hunter said he never told her he had been separated from the service and said he never told her that he had made an appointment to have movers pick up their household goods.
He was granted time off by the squadron before planning to move with his family back to the States around Jan. 9, Lovett said. He was supposed to return Jan. 3, but he was given a verbal extension by the command for a couple of more days.
When he failed to report to duty, the command put him on absent-without-leave status. He was later declared a deserter because he was under investigation for another matter, Lovett said.
The Stars and Stripes story generated an outpouring of messages from Europe and the United States along with offers to help Hunter and her children.
Stars and Stripes reporter Scott Schonauer contributed to this story.