Salinas soldier arrested for desertion

By: Associated Press

SALINAS -- A 19-year-old soldier was arrested after he stayed home about four months longer than his 10-day leave allowed, according to authorities and the man's mother.

U.S. Army Pvt. Omar Garcia-Sanchez was arrested for desertion late Tuesday at his mother's home in Salinas, police said.

Garcia-Sanchez was held briefly at the Salinas County Jail before military police from the Presidio of Monterey picked him up Wednesday, according to a woman who answered the phone at the jail.

Steven Fields, a spokesman at Fort Lewis, Wash., said Garcia-Sanchez had been absent without leave and was en route back to his home base, where he's a combat specialist with the 73rd Engineer Co. It was unclear whether he was an active duty or part-time soldier.

Formal charges have not yet been filed against Garcia-Sanchez, Fields said.

The man's mother, Esperanza Garcia, told the Salinas Californian she has cancer and her son never meant to shirk his military duties. She said her son was slated for duty in Iraq and instead stayed home to help care for her.

Garcia-Sanchez will likely face a court-martial for desertion, an Army spokesman said.