Local Mother stands by AWOL Son

Specialist Mark Wilkerson is in Fort Hood, Texas, after turning himself in days ago.

He spent his days away from his army unit in Colorado Springs.

His mother says his decision is difficult to accept...but as a parent, is standing by her son.

"How would you feel if I died doing something I don't believe in? That's a hard question to answer for a mom," said his mother, Rebecca Barker.

Wilkerson asked her the question as he faced a return trip to Iraq in early 2005.

A trip he didn't want to make...and went AWOL to avoid.

"His reason wasn't running away because he's a coward or afraid, it's because it's against every value he stands for," said Barker.

Wilkerson signed up for the army at 17...a tender age by Rebecca's standards.

"I don't think a child at that age could really know what he was getting into," she said.

But mark joined anyway, driven by a sense of duty he felt... Coming from a military family...gaining interest following the events of September 11th.

Rebecca supported her son, but had her doubts from the beginning.

"He's not a military type of personality, not everyone is fit for the military," Barker said.

And by 19, he'd been to war and came home changed. The peace-keeper his mother knew was an angry young man with a new perspective on life and war...he wanted out.

"It was very tough for us, because it's like, we don't raise quitters," she said.

But his family also won't turn their backs on Wilkerson.

"When he started telling us why he did what he did, we understand because we know Mark," said Barker.

Even though they believe he'll find little sympathy from many others.

There is no punishment set for Wilkerson yet. He'll be re-united with his unit at fort hood, where commanders will decide what the next steps will be.


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