Ramstein airman’s wife angry, but glad husband found
January 25, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An Air Force wife is relieved that police captured her husband in Georgia after the Air Force declared him a deserter from his Ramstein, Germany-based squadron.
But Dawn Hunter also is furious that he abandoned her and their four children in a foreign country with no place to go, no money and an uncertain future.
With him safe behind bars, Dawn Hunter is anxious to see him for the first time in more than a month. She has no intentions of bailing him out and making amends. She wants to give him a piece of her mind.
“I want to know why,” she said by telephone from Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday. “Right now, I just need to know. I need to know why he did this. I need to know why he left his children; why he left me.”
Police arrested Airman 1st Class Edward Hunter outside a coin-operated laundry Friday, sitting inside a car reported stolen. He had been missing since Jan. 6.
Because the Air Force declared him a deserter, Dawn Hunter and the children were forced to leave Germany last Friday. They are staying temporarily with a relative in Nashville. But a friend, whose husband is considered a deserter by the Army, has offered to help her and the children find shelter in North Carolina until they can get into government-funded housing.
Answers to some of her questions could come out soon with her husband’s arrest. Edward Hunter, who worked in the supply department of the 435th Logistics Readiness Squadron, remains locked in the Lowndes County Jail in Valdosta, Ga.
Air Force and county officials are trying to figure out how and when Edward Hunter might be turned over to Office of Special Investigations agents at nearby Moody Air Force Base, said Capt. Jennifer Lovett, an Air Force spokeswoman at Ramstein Air Base. Once the Air Force takes custody of him, he will be transported to Ramstein to be confined on charges of desertion and being absent without leave.
It is possible he could face other charges. Before going on leave to the United States over the holidays and never returning, Hunter was under investigation for a matter the Air Force will not release until he is charged.
Hunter, 33, who grew up an orphan most of his life in Queens, N.Y., has been in trouble before in his Air Force career. Last summer, he was reprimanded for bouncing checks, his wife said. Although he rose to the rank of staff sergeant in his 13-year military career, he was demoted to the rank of airman first class last year.
He received orders in November to be discharged from the military because the Air Force does not allow airmen in his pay grade with that many years of service to stay in. Dawn Hunter, who left their Sembach Annex apartment with the children last Friday, said she didn’t know the Air Force discharged her husband and felt blindsided by the eviction from housing.
Because her husband was classified a deserter, the family lost all military benefits and could not stay in Germany.
Although there is a possibility she could be eligible for some benefits when her husband is taken into custody by the Air Force, she is worried about how she and her children are going to survive. She is a stay-at-home mother who hasn’t had a job outside of the home in 13 years. She last worked at a pizza delivery shop.
While her story in Stars and Stripes last week prompted an outpouring of help from Europe and the United States, she fears the trauma of the last few weeks will be devastating to her children. She said the last couple of weeks have taken a toll on her and her children, three girls and a boy — all of whom are under 10.
When asked how her children are handling the situation, she began to sob. She said the worst part of the whole ordeal is she can’t explain to them why their father left them in Germany.
“He damaged his kids,” she said. “They’ll never be the same. I’ll never be the same.”