Army Says He's AWOL; He Says He's Not

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A Pittsburgh man wants to know why Fort Drum has its sights set on him. Lamar Lawshe says he has been kept on post for weeks - away from from his job and family.

Lawshe says it's a misunderstanding, but Army officials have decided to press charges, accusing him of being absent without leave (AWOL) for 13 years.

Lawshe says he finished up his service in 1998, so when he learned  the Army had issued a warrant claiming he had gone AWOL, he got on a plane and headed to Fort Drum to resolve the issue.

He arrived on post October 25, expecting to spend two or three days in the North Country, but Lawshe says things changed quickly.

"I was told that I was going to be able to leave," he said. "And then I was told I wasn't able to leave."

Lawshe says he has been kept at Fort Drum for almost a month now. For half that time, he claims he wasn't given a place to sleep and made a home out of a recreation room.

"It was a locked room and I just slept on the couch," he said.

With two sons, a fiancee and a job waiting for him back in Pittsburgh, Lawshe says he has had enough. That's when he got a lawyer.

"It's a travesty that the Army won't move forward on these charges," said his attorney, Scott Bielicki.

"If they had enough to put a warrant out for him, then bring him back and put him out of his life in Pittsburgh, they ought to be ready to take him to trial immediately," Bielicki said. "Either that, or let him go."

Bielicki says the AWOL charge against Lawshe is bogus. He's been trying to get his client off post and back home, but says so far, the Army is dragging its feet.

A military court date has been set for December 16, meaning Lawshe could be stuck on post for another month.
 
He's optimistic it won't come to that.

"I just hope to see my family. I just hope I get out of here, have everything fixed," he said.

"Obviously, it's a big misunderstanding."

Meanwhile, Fort Drum officials say they have a good case. The chief of justice on post is saying evidence supports the Army's claim that Lawshe went AWOL.

The Army also contends Lawshe hasn't provided any proof that he was lawfully discharged. 
 

Saturday, November 1, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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