SeMo Sailor Says Debt Led to Desertion

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO - Crushing debt...not a desire to avoid military service, is being blamed for a sailor from southeast Missouri's decision to leave his naval base and return home.

That's according to Seaman Apprentice Justin Burns, who was arrested on desertion charges May 26 at his home in Cape Girardeau.  Also arrested at the home was Seaman Recruit Zachari Valentin of Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Both were listed as deserters from the U.S.S. Carr, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.

In an e-mail and interview with the Southeast Missourian newspaper published today, Burns says he and his wife were $22,000 in debt, in part because of a kidney ailment that left her hospitalized.

Burns says he always planned to eventually return to the ship.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)