Army arrests local civilian after bizarre mixup

Army arrests local civilian after bizarre mixup »Play Video
Chris Parks
SEATTLE - A local man returning from a trip to Central America was dumbfounded when military officials had him arrested for being a deserter - even though he was never in the military.

"To one day just be arrested, and like - here you go, you're detained, and not have any idea why ..." says Chris Parks of Seattle, his voice trailing off.

For Parks, 27, the incredible headache began a few weeks ago as he and some friends were coming back to the United States after a trip to Mexico and Central America.

As he went through customs at the Charlotte airport in North Carolina, his name caught the attention of Homeland Security personnel.

Parks' name was flagged as being a deserter from the military.

"I've been in the Army for 10 years, and didn't even know it," he says. "Just seems kind of odd."

He was tossed into the county jail in Charlotte and locked up for one week. When told he was a fugitive, he was floored.

Parks was then ordered to report to Fort Knox in Kentucky - where he sat and waited and waited some more with actual military deserters.

His head was shaved, he was issued fatigues. He was afraid he would be court-martialed.

"I was at Fort Knox for one week - and I almost didn't get out," says Parks.

Parks says when he was 18, he nearly joined the Army. But at the last minute, he backed out.

Apparently, that message never got through military's system.

"How paperwork could have gotten messed up enough to say that I was actually in the military and made it there - and it actually says that I was in there for two years before they finally figured out that I wasn't - and started counting me as a deserter," says Parks.

Army records showed that Parks had gone through basic training in South Carolina, then went AWOL from a base in Georgia.

He insists that never happened, and wonders if his military recruiter from 10 years ago hung him out to dry by never processing his paperwork to "de-enlist."

Says Parks: "I think it's probably something they don't want a lot of people to know about. And I don't really blame them."

Parks says he now carries documents to prove to authorities he's not a deserter. But he still hasn't received a full explanation from the Army about how this all happened.

He says being detained cost him about $1,500 - plus lost time at work.