A U.S. Army deserter who went AWOL in 1984 has come forward in Sweden, where he says he has been living ever since. David Helmer says he dropped out of the military after becoming a pacifist and growing disillusioned with then-President Ronald Reagan’s policies.
David Helmer: "I discovered the world of solving problems by peaceful methods, like Gandhi’s peaceful fight against the British, which my school forgot to tell me about. I eventually asked for a discharge, on the grounds of my affiliation with a peace church. That is a legal channel of getting a discharge in the military. But after one year, I understood that they just ignored my request completely, and they gave me orders to transfer to another base. And at that time, it felt hopeless."
In coming forward, Helmer also contacted his family, who had no idea he was still alive.